REVIEW: The Wedding Singer [1998]

“Kiss my grits”

No matter how big an Adam Sandler fan I am, I will admit that most of his films are crap. I don’t mean the three “serious” movies he’s done, as I have liked or loved all of them, I am talking about the comedies he helps produce. After hitting the ball out of the park first time out with Billy Madison, one of my favorite stupid comedies ever, he has been hit or miss, with a lot of misses. Luckily most often than not, he follows a letdown with a winner. I’m not saying Happy Gilmore was a letdown per se, but it is not one of my favorites of his. However, right after came the 80’s pop culture referencing The Wedding Singer. While not the funniest of his films, it balances the sentimentality, the heart, and the laughs better than any of his work. I could truly watch this movie anytime it is on tv; it never gets old.

The story is not an original masterpiece as we have Sandler’s character falling for a girl who is engaged to a jerk/adulterer. We all know how it will end up, so it is the exposition and the plot progression that needs to work in order to sell us what will ultimately happen. This one hits all its marks flawlessly. Between the crazy scenarios that our main characters end up intertwining themselves in, to the fantastic soundtrack, to the clothing and technological advances of the decade being sprinkled throughout, to the genuinely priceless singing scenes, it all works. The opening wedding helps start everything out on the right foot with a great cover song, a cameo by Steve Buscemi which is hysterical, an introduction to all our main players and where they are in their lives, and many big laughs. Counter this with Sandler’s next gig, while depressed beyond belief, and you have two polar opposite situations that deliver the goods with equal success.

All the performances work and it is the cameos that sometimes overshadow the leads. Adam Sandler is probably at his best here as far as comedic roles. Unlike his previous efforts, portraying dimwitted goons that speak like they are mentality deficient, here he shows some nuance as a character with fully fleshed out motives. His Robbie Hart is a guy that people can relate to; a nice guy trying to show that sometimes even they can finish first. Drew Barrymore is the weak link as usual. She is brimming with happiness and possesses a cheery disposition, but she just isn’t a terribly good actress. For a role like this she is not too bad, especially in parts where she is allowed to just go with it. When Barrymore and Sandler are getting price quotes for wedding photos and pretend to be brother and sister, there is a real moment that almost makes her seem natural. Unfortunately, most times she just looks like she is trying to act and therefore coming off as unnatural and awkward.

As said before though, it’s the cameos that steal this film. The aforementioned Buscemi is top-notch as usual in Sandler-fare, Jon Lovitz—who generally annoys me—is very funny, Billy Idol is classic, Christine Taylor effective, and Allen Covert shows why Sandler puts him in almost all his films. I don’t quite know how these two met, but it seems that they are pretty good friends and it comes across onscreen. He is the confidant, the ying to his yang, the comic relief, and the voice of reason at some point during the film. It is interesting that he has never had this prominent of a role in a Sandler-vehicle since, because he does a great job with this one.

The Wedding Singer 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

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