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The “˜80s are back with “The Wedding Singer,” a star vehicle for former SNL’er Adam Sandler as a happy-go-lucky wedding singer who suffers a nervous breakdown after his fianc’e dumps him on his wedding day. There is enough “˜80s trivia, music, and fashion in “Singer” that it would take multiple viewings to get them all. In that respect, writer Tim Herlihy’s breezy and fun screenplay is right on the mark.
“Singer” is a very predictable film from beginning to end, although the filmmakers, including Sandler and director Frank Coraci, seem to know it. The fun of “Singer” is to try to catch as many “˜80s reference as possible and hum to the familiar pop tunes that were at the height of their popularity back in that decade. As a “˜90s child, I have a slight interest in all things “˜80s, but it was a pleasure to see just how much the filmmakers were enjoying themselves.
Sandler does good work as Robbie Hart, the wedding singer in question. Sandler has an easy rapport with co-star Drew Barrymore as Julia Sullivan. The two meet while doing weddings together (he sings, she’s a waitress) and discovers they have a lot in common. Since both are about to get married, they approach their relationship as a friendship. But after Robbie’s wedding plans fall apart, and Julia is slowly discovering that her own fianc’ isn’t exactly the best catch… Well, you know how it’s going to end. Like it’s soundtrack, the plot of “Singer” is a throwback to the shallowness of the “˜80s. An unapologetic throwback, natch.
Sandler and Barrymore are both clearly having a ball and enjoying themselves and each other, but it’s the movie’s background characters that provide the most laughs. There’s Alexis Arquette as George, Robbie’s piano player who dresses up as Boy George (of the “˜80s band Culture Club) and can only sing one song. (A Culture Club song, of course.) Steve Buscemi shows up early on as a disgruntled best man at a wedding, and then reappears later, both times providing the movie’s best laughs. Another laugh comes when a freshly-dumped Robbie goes back to work and ruins a wedding with his misery. There is also a rapping grandma for good measure.
The “˜80s references are a hoot, and Sandler avoids a lot of screaming and using the weird voices that he’s so fond of in his later films (“The Waterboy” and “Little Nicky” comes to mind). Here, Sandler seems more human and thus more vulnerable, although it should be said he has a terrible singing voice.
“Singer” is a harmless little film. It’s funny and sweet and never fails to entertain. It’s also highly predictable, is not very original, but so what?
Frank Coraci (director) / Tim Herlihy (screenplay)
CAST: Adam Sandler …. Robbie Hart
Drew Barrymore …. Julia Sullivan
Christine Taylor …. Holly Sullivan