(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: The Wedding Singer
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: Flashback to 1985, when Billy Idol was king, fashion was outrageous, and CD players were not only still a thing, but they were only for the rich. This is where we find Adam Sandler as Robbie Hart, a wedding singer who’s about to tie the knot himself. But when he’s left standing at the altar, he falls into a dark depression and has given up all hope of love. Then he meets effervescent Julia Sullivan, a wedding venue server, who is about to get married to a douchebro stock broker. What starts as an innocent friendship where Julia needs Robbie’s help navigating the planning of her wedding slowly turns into love in a most charming and funny way.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: It’s no secret that Adam Sandler doesn’t make the kind of quality comedies that he became beloved for throughout the 1990s. During that time, not only did he deliver favorites like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Big Daddy, but he gave us one of the best romantic comedies of the decade. Sparking immediate and undeniable chemistry with an irresistible Drew Barrymore, Sandler is not only hilarious, but effortlessly charming, and the result is a movie that is endlessly entertaining and amusingly uses the nostalgia of the 1980s to great comedic effect.
Aside from the delightful connection that Sandler and Barrymore have to fuel the romance, the movie has a great array of supporting characters and fun cameos. This was the first time Steve Buscemi was featured in an Adam Sandler movie, and he’s appeared in many more since. Fellow Saturday Night Live veterans like Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, and Robert Smigel make appearances, the former appearing in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. Christine Taylor and Allen Covert play Julia and Robbie’s respective best friends, each thoroughly ingrained in the fashion of 1980s MTV (the soundtrack follows suit too), and Matthew Glave is the perfect dickhead fiancé.
What makes The Wedding Singer work infinitely better than any comedy Sandler has made in the past 20 years is who he’s working with behind the camera. The script comes from Tim Herlihy, who wrote the rest of Adam Sandler’s best comedies of the 90s, including the aforementioned Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Big Daddy, as well as The Waterboy. Directing is Frank Coraci, and it’s a shame that he never had quite as worthy of a reunion with Adam Sandler, despite trying by getting him back together with Drew Barrymore for Blended. Thankfully, what they create with The Wedding Singer is a movie that avoids all the pitfalls of that later collaboration. There aren’t any insanely over-the-top characters played by Sandler’s usual suspects, stupid pratfalls are completely absent, and it has a big beating heart at the center of it.
It’s a shame that Adam Sandler can’t tap into this kind of quality moviemaking anymore. It seems like the only time he really shines anymore is when he’s taking on a serious role like Uncut Gems. But The Wedding Singer allowed him to be funny and endearing, and he even gets to display the musical talent that made him a favorite at the Weekend Update desk on SNL. It seems like Barrymore can easily bring out the best in Sandler, especially since 50 First Dates was able to capture a bit of this magic again. But even so, The Wedding Singer is in a league of its own, and few movies from Sandler’s filmography can shake a stick at this superb standout of the 1990s.
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