Wednesday, February 11, 1998

The Wedding Singer

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Expect the unexpected from Adam Sandler. In The Wedding Singer, this comedian &emdash; whose leading roles have ranged from the infantile Billy Madison to the puerile Happy Gilmore &emdash; is playing, of all things, a grown-up, down-to-earth and basically really nice guy.

Robbie Hart (Sandler) has a big heart, especially when it comes to romance. The singer in a popular wedding band, he can charm a roomful of reception guests, diffuse awkward family situations with ease, and make the bride and groom feel like they actually are the perfect little figures on top of the multi-tiered cake.

When he meets Julia (Drew Barrymore at her sweetest), she's a charmingly klutzy waitress at a reception. This engaging couple are both engaged to other people, but strike up an easy friendship, one that gets complicated when Robbie's bride-to-be stands him up at the altar and Julia's reluctant boyfriend agrees to set a wedding date. But there's no question here that Robbie and Julia will find their way to each other.

This sunny romantic comedy is more sweet than tart, although it does provide Sandler with a few set pieces to demonstrate his acerbic comedy stylings. After being publicly dumped, Robbie's next wedding gig is a glorious disaster. The once-content wedding singer becomes a vengeful Mr. Hyde, turning "Love Stinks" into a personal anthem.

The Wedding Singer is set in 1985 and writer Tim Herlihy ("Saturday Night Live") and director Frank Coraci milk the fashion and music of the era for all its worth. There's no shortage of material. Julia's best friend Holly (Christine Taylor, Marcia in The Brady Bunch movies) sports a Madonna look from the early Boy Toy period; Robbie's friend Sammy (Allen Covert) gets his fashion cues from Thriller-era Michael Jackson; and Julia's fiancé Glenn (Matthew Glave), a sleazy junk bond trader, drives a DeLorean and goes for the "Miami Vice" look.

The soundtrack is jam packed with songs from when modern rock-alternative still had the optimistic tag "new wave," which buoy the film during some slow moments (also allowing for a funny cameo by Mr. "White Wedding" himself, Billy Idol).

Like those little Valentine's Day candy hearts with messages such as "Marry Me" written on them, The Wedding Singer is a sweet and predictable confection.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at letters@metrotimes.com.

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