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Friday Film Review: The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer (1998)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Grade: B-

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t expect I’d like this movie. Drew Barrymore is an actress who works for me about 50:50 while Adam Sandler is someone I’ll dive for the remote to change the channel away from. But the comments about the movie in the “Ever After” thread made me shrug my shoulders and say “why not?”

Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) has dreams of becoming a songwriter but somewhere along the way, his gigs as a wedding singer to make extra cash turned into what he does for a living. He does it well but it’s not a chick magnet profession. Julia (Drew Barrymore) is a waitress he meets at some of the weddings they both work at and the two exchange small talk and discuss their own upcoming nuptials.

But when Robbie is stood up at the altar, it’s Julia who tries to bring him out of his funk by asking him to help her plan her wedding to a slick Wall Street bond man. As they test cakes, check out dresses and bargain down photographers they begin to have feelings for each other. But will Robbie get the courage to tell Julia how he feels for her – and what a schmuck her fiance is – before it’s too late?

I hadn’t realized that this movie is an homage to the 1980s. Oh, the fashions that I remember: trampy Madonna lace gloves, workout wear, RELAX t-shirts, gelled hair that could withstand a wind tunnel, Miami Vice pastels and Michael Jackson’s red jacket – it’s all there and had me laughing. The music, however, is what takes the cake and makes the film. It not only sets the 80s mood but the lyrics are spot on for the feel and needs of the scene they’re used for. And they even got Billy Idol and a Boy George imitator!

Drew Barrymore is perfect as the perky “girl next door” type. She’s sweet without being saccharine and manages not to come off as too much of a chump for not having seen the truth of her fiance. Matthew Glave as fiance Glenn is a good mix of too suave player whose eyes are still roving but who doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. After all, he’s doing what he thinks he has to and marrying Julia, right?

There are lots of wonderful secondary characters played by fabulous actors including Steve Buscemi, Allen Covert, Frank Sivero, Ellen Albertini Dow and Christine Taylor. You might not immediately know their names but the faces will be familiar and they do well with their parts.

But the true surprise for me is Adam Sandler’s performance. I like Robbie Hart. I want him to pull himself together, realize what a putz Glenn is and a treasure Julia is and make everything right at the end. And when he does, it’s fabulous. The last scenes on the plane with the first class conspiracy to get these two together is a scream plus the song Robbie sings to Julia makes me smile as well as laugh.

I’m glad I gave this one a shot since up til now, I’d avoided it like the plague. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy and campy and feel good but it doesn’t make fun of anyone unlike so many romantic comedies that must make either the hero or heroine – or both – look like fools. And the way Sandler and Barrymore play their characters, I truly can see them growing old with each other and singing at their 50th Anniversary. B-

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

23 Comments

  1. Belle
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 04:02:46

    I love The Wedding Singer! I’m like you, I can’t stand Adam Sandler, but I actually think he’s pretty great in this film. Always makes me laugh!

  2. sarah mayberry
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 06:18:47

    I love this movie. And I love Adam Sandler – but selectively. Happy Gilmore is my fave of his – it’s just dumb and funny. But I love The Wedding Singer a great deal. I love the Steve Buscemi cameo – Thanks for those guitar lessons, Pa! – and that scene where Robbie tells Julia about his friend telling him that she “was going to get it and she didn’t even know it yet” and his friend gets all embarrassed and slinks off… If you aren’t afraid of a little odd arthouse action, Punch Drunk Love showcases Adam’s Sandler’s less gross side (he acts! it’s a little serious!) and I also really enjoyed Funny People, although it’s a little long.

  3. Julie L.
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 06:55:12

    I love this movie too and was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw it. I had no idea it would be so cute. It’s one of the few DVD’s I own, and the extras on it are fun too because you can sing along with it karaoke style. All the 80′s fashions are hilarious and it’s one of the few movies with Drew Barrymore I like (as well as Never Been Kissed, another fav.)

  4. Kim in Hawaii
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 06:59:42

    Like you, I shy away from Adam Sandler movies …. but I loved this movie! I graduated from high school and college in the ’80s so I have very fond memories associated to the music played throughout the movie. Plus I laughed when Robbie woke up from a hang over to find Linda (the ex) in his Van Halen shirt. He claims that ehe’ll bring the band bad luck and “they’ll break up” which they did!

    The entire cast, even Billy Idol, is charming in this movie!

    (I did not care for their next movie colloberation, 50 First Kisses. The only redeeming value was its backdrop in Hawaii).

  5. Edie
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 07:07:35

    @Kim in Hawaii: that is my favourite line!! I went to the cinemas to see this, long story, and the cinema was full of kidlets and I absolutely roared when he said that! I think only one other person in the cinema got it with me.. but hey.

  6. Tabs
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 07:09:50

    “I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad. Carry you around when your arthritis is bad. Oh, all I wanna do is grow old with you.”

    That song! So adorable! I love it so much.

  7. Jayne
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 07:19:37

    @sarah mayberry: Okay Sarah, you’re going to make me step out of my comfort zone and try some more Adam Sandler movies.

  8. Jayne
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 07:22:39

    @Kim in Hawaii: I loved that bit with the Van Halen t-shirt too.

  9. Jayne
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 07:26:58

    @Julie L.: LOL, considering how badly I sing – the cat winces when I try – I passed on the karaoke.

  10. Bronte
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 08:09:33

    I’ll confess that I don’t mind quite a few Adam Sandler movies. Loved Mixed Nuts (which he only has a small role in). Happy Gilmore is also a many watched movie in my household. However the Wedding Singer is my favourite by far, I think it might actually be in my top five comedies of all time. Yes, I might be easily amused, but this movie always leaves me feeling good.

  11. Kerry Allen
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 08:34:48

    I like the “Somebody Kill Me” song waaaaaaaaay more than that schmaltzy thing at the end.

    This is one of two movies (the other being 40-Year-Old Virgin) that, on paper, I ought to hate but through some bizarre alchemy actually think is almost perfect. I don’t own it, but I have never, ever flipped past it the hundred times I’ve found it on TV.

    My daughter likes to watch all those wedding shows on TLC, and every time the couple starts devouring each other’s faces at the altar, she shouts, “That is not church tongue!”

  12. Susanna Kearsley
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 09:06:53

    Jayne,

    Yep, we were definitely separated at birth. Yet again, this is one of my favourites.

    Try Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories — I liked him in that one, as well. His character is similarly endearing and likeable, and the romance is sweet…and even if the movie as a whole doesn’t top The Wedding Singer it does have Guy Pearce as the bad guy and Russell Brand as the best buddy.

  13. Sunita
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 09:14:38

    Add me to the “can’t stand Adam Sandler but love this movie” list. I can watch this pretty much any time it’s in rotation on a movie channel. Drew Barrymore does sweet and ditzy here as well as she’s ever done it, and Sandler’s mumble-acting shtick is perfect for the part.

    As soon as I saw which movie was being reviewed I instantly flashed to the scene w/the Van Halen T-shirt. Yes I’ve seen it too often.

    Susanna, I’ve avoided Bedtime Stories but you make it sound really good.

    Oh, to be fair, I did like Sandler’s Opera Man character in SNL. So that’s two roles.

  14. Isabel C.
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 10:05:06

    Can’t stand either Sandler *or* Barrymore. Love this movie anyhow.

    I think it’s that Sandler doesn’t go as deeply into his stunted man-child act as he does in most movies. Robbie’s not ambitious, but he has a life, he has a job, and he seems functional. Every other Sandler character I’ve seen, Gilmore included…seems like he shouldn’t be allowed out in public. Blech.

    Also, Billy Idol.

  15. Jayne
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 10:10:18

    @Kerry Allen: LOL “church tongue!” I’d forgotten that part.

  16. Rhianna
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 10:12:06

    Awww! I haven’t watched this movie in ages. I got my first kiss during the scene where Robbie and Julia have that “practice kiss”. :) (…12 years later we’re happily married with 2 kids). Just seeing this discussion makes me want to pop the DVD in.

    There’s just something kind of charming and sweet about this movie, glad you liked it Jayne.

    I find Adam Sandler to be a bit hit and miss sometimes but as far as roles where there’s a romance involved I also liked 50 First Dates which he was opposite Barrymore in as well and Click which is a bit more serious and always makes me cry. I did love Bedtime Stories but I think Russell Brand kind of steals the show in that one.

    I think one of the secrets to finding likable Adam Sandler movies is what secondary characters support and compliment his.

  17. Samantha
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 10:20:38

    I never saw this movie when it was out in the theater and by the time it came out on video, everyone I knew had hyped it be “the funniest thing EVER” that when I saw it, my reaction was “meh”. I still feel the same way. It was cut but I would never go out of my way to watch it.

  18. Jayne
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 11:03:57

    OMG, y’all have me filling my Netflix queue with Adam Sandler movies. I would never have believed it…

  19. Cherrie Lynn
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 13:21:51

    We adore Sandler and his crew at my house. Faves are Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore and Click (I bawled uncontrollably at one scene in particular in Click–that scene had me calling my dad, who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. People who’ve seen it probably know which scene I’m talking about.)

    I love Wedding Singer too. Julia Goolia. LOL

  20. Gina Ardito
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 17:18:02

    I’m definitely not an Adam Sandler fan for the reasons already cited: he seems to come across as intellectually stunted most of the time. But I *love* this movie and have the soundtrack on my iPod. There are just so many great scenes. The old lady singing hip-hop? Priceless!

  21. sarah mayberry
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 18:14:35

    Jayne, Happy Gilmore is just plain silly, but I have an abiding fondness for it. I really love the bit at the beginning when his girlfriend leaves him and he has a fight with her via the intercom, alternating between being angry and hurt and abusing her and then trying to wheedle himself back into her good books. My man and I always refer to his “I’m sorry baby I didn’t mean that either. I just yell sometimes, because I get so scared” line when one of us has been snappy. Also has an awesome Ben Stiller cameo and the funniest take on nursing homes ever. Punch Drunk Love has this great scene in it where Adam Sandler’s character is so overwhelmed and frustrated and put upon by his 4 sisters that he smashes a glass sliding door. There’s a clip over at IMDB under the movie title. Not the best movie in the world but sweet and interesting and quirky. And Funny People is also interesting and funny and a great examination of the world of stand ups and fame and what could-have-been. (Being Australian, I love the scene where Eric Bana explains Aussie Rules Football to Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. Lots of swearing. Very authentic!)

  22. dri
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 05:09:35

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy Adam Sandler! Yaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy Drew Barrymore! Oh gosh, I’m so delighted you were won over by this film, Jayne. I didn’t expect to love it either but this and Big Daddy totally began my love for Adam Sandler. I just watched Grown Ups for the second time and man, it’s such a great evolution of his comedies. It looks like it’s going to be a gross-out comedy but it’s really not and the messages are so very mature and evolved … kinda like Drew Barrymore’s speech at the end of Never Been Kissed.

    And yes, @ Kerry Allen, I totally agree about loving Somebody Kill Me more than the song at the end although I’m always getting sniffly when he sings the ‘growing old’ line. But the Cure song totally wins out. I love Julia’s reaction when he goes into the chorus, exactly the same as mine. Bahahahaha!

    Um, has anyone also mentioned how *intense* Punch Drunk Love is? I mean, I adore it but gad, I can’t watch it more than twice. :p

  23. Kelly in Hockeytown
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 20:00:29

    If you like/love THE WEDDING SINGER, give 50 FIRST DATES a shot as well.

    I too am one who avoided any/all Adam Sandler movies up until The Wedding Singer and then 50 First Dates.

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