The Wedding Singer

(1998) ** Pg-13
101 min. New Line Cinema. Director: Frank Coraci. Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Christine Taylor, Allen Covert, Matthew Glave.


The low-to-middlebrow romantic comedy The Wedding Singer may not be very good, but it struck a chord with audiences. Was it the sunny Drew Barrymore feeling her oats in the genre? Was it Adam Sandler smoothing out the edges of his shtick (sweetness emerging from the resentment of yelling jags and angry "Whoopie-dee-do!"s)? Most likely it was the chic '80s nostalgia tripping set against the backdrop of weddings. We've all been there, right? Ahhhh, good times, good times.

It's 1985, and the Ridgefield Banquet Hall is flush with wedding business. The proceeds don't much trickle down to the the hall's waitress Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore) or its most popular wedding singer, Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler), whose sixty-bucks-a-gig salary keeps him living in his sister's basement. Both, as it turns out, have weddings of their own pending, but Robbie's world comes crashing down when his fiancé Linda (Angela Featherstone) leaves him at the altar. Depressed and frequently drunken, Robbie seems determined to stay in a tailspin, but the sweet friendship of Julia slowly lifts him out of the doldrums. Problem is he's in love again, with Julia, who seems determined to marry her fiance Glenn (Matthew Glave), whose douchiness is signaled not only by his cheating but his dress-up enthusiasm for Miami Vice.

The plot somehow manages to come off as both ridiculous and clichéd, and the tone set by director Frank Coraci tends to the cartoonishly broad while making jokes at the expense of grotesques. Selectively, this serves the picture (Steve Buscemi delivering a horrifying drunken wedding toast or the irresistably stupid grandma-rapping of Ellen Albertini Dow), but more often it's just tasteless or damaging to the film's attempts at emotional investment. The odd collection of supporting players includes Christine Taylor, Allen Covert, Alexis Arquette (as a Boy George-obsessed singer), Frank Sivero (Goodfellas), Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Robert Smigel, and Billy Idol. Lovers of kitsch and suckers for romantic comedy can have this one.

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Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1

Street date: 4/7/2009

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Warner's Blu-ray transfer of The Wedding Singer is slightly wobbly, and suffers from softness attacked by conspicuous digital noise reduction, weak black level, and edge enhancement. Still, it offers a noticeable improvement over the DVD, so fans will have to judge their own level of desire to make a coaster of the earlier disc. Sound is considerably better, particularly rocking the house in the music department with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 options.

Extras are slim, but include the genuinely interesting featurette promo "A Backstage Look at The Wedding Singer on Broadway" (10:30). At ten minutes, it's only a tease, but does its job by being intriguing enough to make viewers wonder if the show is worth seeing. Interviewees include screenwriter/stage co-writer Tim Herlihy, producer Margo Lion, lyricist/co-writer Chad Beguelin, composer Matthew Sklar, producer Michael Rego, director John Rando, Stephen Lynch, Laura Benanti, musical director/conductor James Sampliner, choreographer Rob Ashford, costume designer Gregory Gale, set designer Scott Pask, and lighting designer Brian MacDevitt.

Lastly, we get the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:23, SD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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