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"The Wedding Singer" Review

I've written before about how I've boycotted every Adam Sandler movie since 1998's The Wedding Singer with only two exceptions: 2009's Funny People (which I broke boycott for because I was - note was - a Judd Apatow fan, but resulted in adding him to the boycott list) and 2019's Uncut Gems, which I only decided to watch after seeing his hilarious Independent Spirit Awards acceptance speech after he'd been snubbed for an Oscar nomination. But as I look at his IMDB page now, I realize that I didn't stop being a fan; I never was an Adam Sandler fan. 

Not counting his bit parts or cameos in pal's films or animated work (the Hotel Transylvania series), I just realized I have only seen FOUR of his nearly 40 feature films: the above-mentioned trio plus Airheads. I liked him on Saturday Night Live, but it appears I have never had much interest in his movies. My girlfriend has seen multiples more of his movies than I have and has been on me to give 2011's  Just Go With It a chance for a decade now, but my boycott has been too firm. But now that I look at things, is it really a boycott when you were never really a customer in the first place?

 Needing a comedy the other night, the missus and I watched The Wedding Singer, the first of his three collaborations with Drew Barrymore (the others being 2004's 50 First Dates and 2014's Blended) which was also the last of his movies before my boycott was triggered by the Big Daddy trailer. It's a testament to how triggering that trailer was because The Wedding Singer is a sweet and funny example of late-20th Century rom-coms and comedies in general. 

Sandler is the titular singer, Robbie, whose motley wedding band is inexplicably in demand, though it is New Jersey. Opening at a reception where we see his limited vocal (but more impressive people) gifts, we're also introduced to the new waitress Julia (Barrymore), the new-in-town cousin of Holly (Christine Taylor), who is also a waitress at the wedding hall and is a bit of a tramp. Robbie's own wedding to Linda (Angela Featherstone) is coming up in a week and Julia has been engaged for years to an aloof rich jerk, Glenn (Matthew Glave), who has been reluctant to set a date.

 When Linda doesn't show up for the wedding because while she fell for Robbie when he was in a rock band she couldn't imagine being happy being married to just a wedding singer, Robbie is crushed, leading to a hilarious meltdown at a subsequent gig. (Why a wedding band even has "Love Stinks" in the set list is unexplained.) Meanwhile Julia finally get Glenn to set a date, but he's clearly not into it.

Since Robbie knows all the local wedding businesses and how to wrangle bargains, he helps Julia plan her wedding since Glenn's too busy making big bond trader money in NYC. Naturally, they seem to be perfect for each other though they don't realize it because this is a rom-com after all. While on a double-date with Glenn and Julia while he's with Holly, Robbie learns what a weasel Glenn is, but how do you tell a girl her man's a rat? And what to do if your ex comes back around? Will these two crazy kids be able to find love and grow old together? (Spoiler: It ends in a murder-suicide. Just kidding! Duh!)

There are a handful of memorable classic bits and everyone is fine and funny in their performances. I'd forgotten it was set in 1985 and who the big cameos were and while it's very predictable in its story beats, it doesn't overstay its welcome at 97 minutes long. (You hear that, Apatow? Comedies shouldn't rival Lord of the Rings movies for runtime!) My girlfriend was snarking that Barrymore looked like a child, but she looks at least 14 which is impressive considering she was 22 when shooting this. 

As for Sandler, the seeds for my boycott are visible here. While it works here for the character, it showcases my knock on him that he had exactly two gears for "acting": the meek quiet baby-voiced mode and the LOUD BELLOWING JOCK GOON mode. I had missed Happy Gilmore, but was aware of the second mode, but it was the moment in the Big Daddy trailer where he's screaming for a Happy Meal that I noped out of wanting to see anything he was in for another decade. Robbie is mostly a Mode #1 performance, but he edges into restrained Mode #2 territory, but it works because it's limited. But I can see why I flipped on him. 

Was I wrong to write him off so completely? Probably not. Maybe I'll finally give Just Go With It a look since I've already warned the missus that if it sucked she'd be finding out what domestic violence is like. (Not sure if I'm kidding here.) But at least The Wedding Singer is a movie of Sandler's that I'm cool with having seen. Now concerning Funny People, I need to pay Judd Apatow a visit and have to pick up an axe handle somewhere on the trip.

Score: 6.5/10.  

Note how they give away the whole plot and some big gags in the trailer and also Sandler's baby voice to bellow schtick.


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