tek's rating:

The Wedding Singer (PG-13)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This came out in 1998. It couldn't have been a long time after that that I first saw it, but honestly I don't remember whether it was the late 90s or the early 2000s, or if I saw it alone or with friends, or where I was, or if it was on VHS or TV, or... anything. It really bugs me that I so totally remember the movie itself but absolutely no details of my watching it. Anyway... I'm writing this review in 2018, after watching it (alone, on DVD) for the second time ever. I'm putting the review in my "period pieces" section, with "rom-coms" as only a secondary link, because this movie is just so incredibly, unabashedly Eighties that I have to think of it as a period film. (I mean, there are anachronisms, things from throughout the 80s, so I assume 1985 was probably chosen just to be smack dab in the middle of the decade without having to worry about actual dates of... anything.)

Well, Adam Sandler plays a wedding singer named Robbie Hart. He lives in Ridgefield, New Jersey, in the basement of his sister and brother-in-law's house. And he's engaged to a woman named Linda. At the start of the movie, he meets a woman named Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore), who has just started working as a waitress at wedding receptions (and other events). She moved to the area to be close to her fiancé, Glenn Gulia. And I guess her cousin, Holly, who is also a waitress, got her the job. Robbie and Linda are supposed to get married in a week, but Julia is starting to wonder (after two years of engagement) whether Glenn will ever set a date. And when Robbie meets Julia, the two of them immediately become friends. (Robbie's best friend is a limo driver named Sammy, who is something of a womanizer, and at first seems like a creep, but eventually he turns out to be an okay guy, I guess.)

On the day of Robbie's wedding, Linda doesn't show up, and his sister lets him know that Linda has decided not to marry him, which leaves him deeply brokenhearted. Meanwhile, Glenn finally decides to marry Julia in Las Vegas, but despite her saying she's okay with that, he realizes it's not really what she wants. So he agrees to let her have a wedding in Ridgefield, which will take place in a few months. But he doesn't want to have anything to do with planning it. So she gets Robbie to help with that, since he knows a lot about weddings. Which means they spend a lot of time together, and it's pretty clear that the two of them are a better match than either Robbie and Linda or Julia and Glenn ever were. But... it's not exactly clear to them, and they both seem pretty committed to being just friends. (I suppose this movie came out before the term "friend zone" really became a thing, but even if it had been, I daresay neither Robbie nor Julia would have looked at their friendship that way.) Anyway, it's fairly clear throughout the movie that Glenn is an asshole, but that becomes much clearer later on. And still Robbie doesn't want to interfere with his relationship with Julia. (I think it's a very complicated situation... like, as her friend, he should have an obligation to tell her the truth about him, but at the same time it's sort of... appropriate that he didn't feel it was his place to do so. Plus, in pretty much any other rom-com, if a guy told a woman what the guy she was with was really like, it would surely be seen as an attempt to break them up so he could get with her. Plots like that are just... so... aggravating. So I appreciated this movie avoiding it.)

Well, lots of other stuff happens. There was a bar mitzvah scene I particularly remembered from the first time I saw the movie, in which Robbie gets Julia to dance with an unpopular 13-year-old boy. That seemed kind of sweet, although the boy then groped Julia's butt, which is played off as amusing. I'm not entirely comfortable with that, but then the scene goes on to have various couples touching each other's butts. And Robbie dances with a (presumably) unpopular girl, and moves her hands to his own butt. I feel like that's somehow less problematic than if he'd groped the young girl's butt, but... still problematic, even though I'm sure it, like the situation with Julia and the young boy, is meant to be both sweet and funny. I felt like I should mention it, but I still want to just move past it. Also, there's an old woman named Rosie, whom Robbie has been giving singing lessons, in preparation for her fiftieth wedding anniversary. Throughout the movie she gives Robbie some... not entirely appropriate advice... I mean, not necessarily bad advice, but... it's meant to be funny because she's more... frank... than one might expect someone her age to be. (And certainly more so than Robbie is comfortable with.)

Of course, it's entirely predictable that Robbie and Julia get together in the end. And there are definitely some rom-com cliches along the way. But I do think the ending is pretty well earned. And kind of unique. (Billy Idol is involved, because of course he is.) Honestly, whatever relatively few, relatively minor faults the movie has, I'm willing to forgive them because of all the things that it does so much better than most rom-coms. And... you know, the 80s is just such a fun era. Lots of fun songs and other elements of pop culture. Plus seeing Adam Sandler sing, whether it's cover songs or original songs, is very reminiscent of his work on Saturday Night Live (or the various comedy albums he's released). And there are plenty of fun cameos. And... chances are I'm forgetting stuff. But the important thing is that I felt like Robbie and Julia made a good couple, and the movie was really fun.


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