The Wedding Singer
directed by Frank Coraci
(NewLine, 1998)

I didn't set out to enjoy The Wedding Singer. After all, Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) is not an actor I'd ever go out of my way to see perform. But the film was recommended to me for reasons of '80s nostalgia and, hey, I wasn't paying to see it.

I was actually surprised to find myself liking it.

Adam Sandler is Robbie Hart, who makes his living singing at wedding receptions and trading voice lessons for meatballs. He's quite good at his job, finding the right thing to say in every situation and saving the day when even the most awkward of circumstances crop up at his receptions. But his attitude turns bitter when his own bride-to-be (Angela Featherstone) leaves him standing at the altar in a tacky tuxedo.

Drew Barrymore is Julia Sullivan, the new girl in town, a waitress at the reception hall where Hart works. She's moved to town to be closer to her fiance, junk bondsman Glenn Gulia (Matthew Glave), who lives up to the standards of most obnoxious twit boyfriends.

The attraction between Robbie and Julia is immediate and obvious, and yet it's still fun to watch it unfold. Even more enjoyable is the interplay among friends, including Julia's best friend, the easy Material Girl (Christine Taylor), and Robbie's, the limo-driving slave to pop culture (Allen Covert). Particularly priceless are uncredited performances by Jon Lovitz as competing wedding singer Jimmie Moore and Steve Buscemi as the drunk and bitter best man at the opening wedding. They even managed to pull Billy Idol's career out of the trashcan long enough for a save-the-day cameo at the end.

But innocuous love story and chummy '80s schlock aside, the star of The Wedding Singer is not Adam Sandler, but Adam Sandler's voice. Don't get me wrong, Sandler will never shake the roots of modern music. He's not even all that good. But the manner in which he thrusts himself into the music, making '80s pop his battle cry, is a treat. And for those sentimental nods to the '80s alone, The Wedding Singer is worth watching.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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