Apr 9, 2015

Review: The Wedding Singer (1998)

There aren't too many comedy figures more reviled than Adam Sandler these days. Grown Ups 2, That's My Boy, Jack and Jill, Just Go with It... should I stop? I could go on, but at this point everyone is familiar with Sandler's unique brand of PG toilet humour. At the same time though, I can't help but be impressed with the operation that he has going on. Adam Sandler has confirmed point blank that his movies are paid vacations. If you were an actor, wouldn't you take a big salary and a bunch of your friends to shoot a lazy, half-assed movie for fun? I know I would.

Going back to 1998, Sandler's fresh-faced career was still young outside of Saturday Night Live. Sure he had made some movies during his time there, but Happy Gilmore  was his first real stand-alone effort. Critics hated it pretty hard, but the people loved it. It's the movie that most people hold as the standard that Sandler had to live up to for comedy movies and The Wedding Singer solidified that even further. The rest is history.


At a Glance

Genre: comedy, romance
Directed by: Frank Coraci
Produced by: Jack Giarraputo, Robert Simonds, Brad Grey, etc.
Written by: Tim Herlihy
Music by: Teddy Castellucci
Running time: 95 minutes
Production company: Juno Pix, New Line Cinema, Robert Simonds Productions
Distributed by: New Line Cinema, Abbey Films, Warner Bros., etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $18,000,000
Box office: $123,306,987 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Christine Taylor, Allen Covert, Matthew Glave, Ellen Albertini Dow, Angela Featherstone, Alexis Arquette, Christina Pickles, Jodi Thelen, Frank Sivero



It's 1985 and Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is on top of the world. He once dreamed of being a rock star, but he's become content as a wedding singer. He's engaged to his long-time girlfriend Linda (Angela Featherstone) and they're to be married quite soon. The reception hall that he works at hires a new waitress named Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore) who's also to be married soon. Greatly enjoying his performance, Julia asks for him to sing at her wedding as the two become friends.


The Wedding Singer knows that it's silly and the cast clearly had a great time diving head first into a visual exaggeration of the 80's. I personally love the 1980's. I love the styles, the music, the cars and I love how everybody seemed to be having a good time. I was born in the 90's and as much as there are certain things I like about my decade, I'll always be envious over the free flowing awesomeness that was the 80's. All I can do is live it through movies like this as well as all the 80's rock that I refuse to let go of.

Anyway, The Wedding Singer is chock full of 80's pop culture references and it takes full advantage of all the different styles of the time. It shouldn't be any surprise that there are many musical performance scenes with Adam Sandler actually doing the singing and they're actually quite fun to watch. He's got a legitimate set of pipes surprisngly. I'm not a fan of necessarily ALL his original compositions, but it's great to see Adam Sandler actually giving it his all after becoming so used to his current and seemingly permanent zombie state. 

Sandler's trusty angry outbursts-type comedy makes several appearances. Although it's the kind of thing that feels a bit repetitive and not all that funny, director Frank Coraci keeps him relatively reigned in. He's a natural for Robbie Hart though and he has a natural knack for interacting with large groups of people. I've also always thought that Sandler had a talent for acting with more elderly characters and that's well on display again in The Wedding Singer. Yeah we've already seen that before in Happy Gilmore, but it's still funny.

In terms of the comedy as a whole, it's a mix of some amusing gags, some over-the-top angry Sandler scenes as well as some funny throwaway characters who interject with random lines. The latter is the kind of thing that appears in later Sandler movies as well, but the difference is that the ones in The Wedding Singer are actually funny. Throw in some good cameos from John Lovitz, Steve Buscemi and Billy Idol and TWS comes off pretty strong. It's not an infinitely funny movie, but there are more hits than misses if you ask me.

There aren't any surprises in the storyline of The Wedding Singer, but it does fit the description of a satisfying feel-good romantic comedy. I was content enough in giving TWS a 6, but those final ten minutes were enough to bump it up another half point. The chemistry between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore becomes more obvious than ever and it easily makes you forget the predictable climax and falling action.

The Wedding Singer doesn't belong in the pantheon of classic romantic comedies or anything like that, but there are worst ways to spend an evening if you have a loved one with you. The singing scenes are good fun, the comedy mostly succeeds and Sandler plus Barrymore just works. The 80's setting adds another layer of fun and those last ten minutes make the whole movie worth it anyhow. It's a shame that subsequent Sandler and Barrymore pairings haven't worked anywhere near as well.



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