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The Wedding Singer

****
1998

‘…while most comedy dates fast, Frank Coraci’s simple, romantic, funny film has stood the test of changing times…’

It’s Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re keen to show some cinematic love for your hot partner, or you’re a lonely hermit weeping over your etchings in a desolate hovel, we traditionally turn to the movies to mark the occasion. Sure, there are many who swear by the rom-coms of the great Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle), or the British equivalent, Richard Curtis (Four Weddings, Notting Hill). But unfortunately, most of these movies have been adored to the point of becoming templates; once you’ve seen one Hugh Grant, pop-culture referencing slightly sweary speech as a protestation of love, you’ve seen them all. So what is a really great rom-com to blow up your Valentine’s Day?

It’s now a quarter of a century, yes, 25 years since The Wedding Singer, and while most comedy dates fast, Frank Coraci’s simple, romantic, funny film has stood the test of changing times. While Adam Sandler stars, and it’s very much a product of his Happy Madison imprint, The Wedding Singer is worth commending as a rom-com that aims for fairly humble targets, but somehow succeeds without seeming to try too hard. As Robbie Hart, Sandler sports a mullet wig, and his youthful, cheerful demeanour in the early scenes has barely a hint of his later sour-puss demeanour. He’s ably matched by Drew Barrymore, who shines as wronged waitress Julia; it’s notable that both Robbie and Julia are engaged to other people as the film begins, and dis-entangling that problem is a key part of the film’s appeal. ‘Maybe you’ll sing at my wedding,’ Julia laughs when she first meets Robbie; as it turns out, they’ll both sing, although not as sweetly as the Rapper’s Delight featured here.

The Wedding Singer features some familiar Saturday Night Live elements, background cameos by comics (Jon Lovitz! Steve Buscemi!) and musicians (a well-spoken Billy Idol!), retro-pop music needle-drops (Love Stinks!), but also a script by Sandler’s usual collaborator Tim Herlihy that makes a few gambles and wins; Carrie Fisher did the polish job to get it up to snuff. The Wedding Singer has a positive attitude to trans people via the late Alexis Arquette’s Boy George wannabe, who is sympathetically handled. It’s also notable that Robbie listens to and rejects misogynist advice from all male parties, and Julia similarly comes to realise that she can resist the social programming of her peers and marry for love rather than for money. Similarly, sexism and sexual harassment is frowned upon; instead we get a neat retro-joke about great couples who have lasted the course ‘Like Donald and Ivana, Woody and Mia, Burt and Loni…’.

The Wedding Singer walks a line between the sour and sweet, ideally epitomised by Robbie’s lopsided love-song, written before and after his break-up. Robbie is a sensitive soul, officiating at dozens of weddings, but always the bridesmaid and never the bride. A throwaway line mentions that his ‘parents died when he was ten,’ something confirmed much later in the film; it’s rare that a film withholds sympathetic info about the protagonist, but the confidence is correctly placed in Robbie’s upbeat character arc. The Wedding Singer has no lofty ideas beyond making us fall for Robbie and Julia, and like the first class plane passengers who are wowed by Robbie’s story, audiences have made this one of the great quotable movies of all time. And if you feel otherwise about this film, well, that’s ‘…information that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!’

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    • This IS the correct answer! I’ve seen some awful Sandler pics, That’s My Boy and Jack and Jill will never be forgotten, but he’s good here.

  1. Excellent Valentine’s Day choice. I’m also partial to Bridget Jones’ Diary.

    Although as we learned from the superior film Magic Mike’s Last Dance, women do not have to choose between love and money. THEY CAN HAVE IT ALL.

    This despite the fact that the film then ends with Hayek’s character gleefully declaring that she’s broke because she divorced her rich husband to be with Tatum. Unintentional irony.

    I need to move but I can’t seem to.

    Perhaps a re-watch of The Wedding Singer will help me move on!

    • I’m diagnosing a serious care of Magic Mike 3 itis, and would suggest you call 911 to be rescued from the long tail of emotional distress that movie has caused. It’s truly horrible stuff!

      The Wedding Singer cures all.

  2. Drew Barrymore never did anything for me, good or bad. So imagining her in a romcom seems like putting a dead fish in there.
    But Sandler, well, the only movie I “think” I liked of his was Mr Deeds and even that was an abomination remake.

    So I think I’ll be passing on this Valentines Day recommendation and do something else. Like wash the dishes…

    • Nope. Leave your sad stories at the door. This is a great little film, and the leads have never been better. Good wholesome stuff too…

    • He’s got one now. Didn’t previously know Carrie Fisher rewrote this, but it tracks.

      Sigh. You wouldn’t even come up to look at my etchings when I asked, so you won’t be seeing them now.

        • Those who have indecently impressive credentials to boast about? I saw what I see, perhaps to the layman, it’s hard to comprehend, but when I have so much to share, it feels wrong to keep it to myself.

          You must have some pitiful scribble you could exhibit?

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