The Wedding Singer
1998, PG-13, 96 min. Directed by Frank Coraci. Starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Steve Buscemi, Allen Covert, Angela Featherstone, Matthew Glave, Billy Idol, Christine Taylor.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 13, 1998
I can't help but think that retro-Eighties nostalgia trips like this one would be a lot more effective had we all not been rehashing the whole Eighties music thing since January 1, 1990. I was sick of the Eighties then, and by now I've gotten to the point where the very mention of the Thompson Twins or Kajagoogoo causes me to swerve my car into oncoming traffic. The Wedding Singer does little to alleviate this overkill situation, though it is a harmless and occasionally hilarious pop comedy good for a few bargain yuks. It's 1986, and Sandler plays Robby Hart, a failed rock & roller whose current career as a wedding singer isn't exactly what his fiancée (Featherstone) had in mind when she said yes. In a brilliant show of bad taste and even bigger, badder hair, she leaves him standing at the altar, which sends him into a vicious emotional tailspin that he then takes out on his bride and groom clients. Luckily, he quickly falls for Julia (Barrymore), a plucky, naïve wedding caterer who, unfortunately, is also about to marry the wrong person. As Glenn, her betrothed, Matthew Glave is a two-timing Wall Street slimeball, the kind of reptile that was an icon of Eighties materialism. Will Robby rescue Julia from her marital doom? Will the two of them finally act on their mutually lovestruck impulses before it's too late? If you have to ask, I'm demoting you to the remedial film class right now. Coraci and company pile on the Eighties touches as though this were some sort of Biblical epic and Boy George wrote the Ten Commandments. Everything from Dallas jokes to rubber bracelets, Michael Jackson gloves, and the Buggles make indiscriminate appearances. It's all a bit desperate, and by the time Billy Idol (he's alive?) appears in the film's final minutes, you're practically screaming for Nirvana to swoop down from the heavens and smite the whole mess with one big Sub-Poppy chord. Okay, it's not that painful, but really, there's only so much pastel pink and purple set design a guy can stand. Sandler is actually at the top of his game here; he plays Robby as a genuinely nice guy (with Fee Waybill's hair) who truly enjoys the fun-lite he brings to his wedded clients. He gets off on the whole idea of marriage and commitment, and he makes full use of that puppy-dog face and atonal snivel. He and Julia are a pair of naïfs lost in a world run by Gordon Gekko and his ilk. At times it borders on the abyss of perpetually cute, but a nicely contrived endgame á la The Graduate manages to cinch things up. Like the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy, it might make you yak, but it tastes pretty good going down.