The Wedding Singer

Ealasaid/ February 20, 1998/ Movie Reviews and Features

Originally written for The Occidental.

Are you a romantic at heart? Are you looking for a fun, funny movie to just veg out and watch? Do you long for the simplicity of the 80s? Have I got the film for you.

The Wedding Singer stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and will please you if you answered “yes” to any of those questions. It’s not a perfect film — like much of Sandler’s work, it has moments that don’t quite click. Overall, though, it’s wonderful. It may be predictable, it may be sappy and romantic, it may be frighteningly 80s, but it made me smile, and for a brief two hours I was transported to a world where true love does exist, and nice guys can finish first.

The plot is appropriately simple and predictable (if you’re looking for an intellectual challenge, go see Sphere), but that’s half its charm. The setup is simple: Robby (Sandler) is a Nice Guy who works as a wedding singer (but has dreams of being a rock star) and is engaged to his high school sweetheart. Julia (Barrymore) is a waitress who has dreams of getting her fiance, Glenn (Matthew Glave) to set a date. Julia and Robby meet (appropriately enough) at a wedding they’re both working. When Robby’s intended leaves him standing at the altar, he’s heartbroken and refuses to have anything to do with weddings until Julia persuades him to help her plan her marriage to Glenn. Robby discovers that Glenn is in fact a womanizing bag of slime, and falls in love with Julia himself. Julia likewise falls for Robby, but (of course) neither of them figures it out right away. After the requisite near-declarations of love and misunderstandings, Julia hops a plane for a quickie wedding in Vegas — to Glenn. Will Robby find them in time? Will he persuade Julia to leave rich, handsome Glenn for the wedding singer? Do you have any doubt?

Besides the appealing plot and heroes, there are several wonderful cameos scattered through the film Steve Buscemi’s role is worth the price of admission — after appearing in the first sequence, he vanishes for the rest of the film, to reappear at the end — as a wedding singer himself (and yes, that is Steve Buscemi singing)! No Steve Buscemi fan should miss this. Billy Idol also appears as himself, helping Robby win Julia in the end.

The acting is quite good. Sandler’s performance is a trifle uneven, but more mature than his roles in films like Airheads and Happy Gilmore. He’s believably innocent and sweet, and even when he’s belting out a post-breakup heavy metal number (“Please Kill Me!”), he’s adorable. Barrymore’s performance is uniformly solid, and she manages to make Julia likable even though she can’t see through Glenn’s thin nice-guy mask. Glave himself is one of the many strong points of the film — Glenn is a slimebag, and Glave enjoys every minute of it.

The music is a medley of 80s tunes and original pieces by Sandler, and drew me back to grade school. Nostalgia is scary when you’re a college student, but this soundtrack will have you muttering about “the good old days” and telling younger siblings “when I was your age…” Sandler’s pieces are good, although he doesn’t let his singing voice really shine until the wonderful last number.

So, what’s the bottom line on The Wedding Singer? If you’re looking for an intellectual, surprising, original art film, go somewhere else. But if you’re looking for a sweet, upbeat comedy, it’s right up your alley.

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