The Wedding Singer (1998)

the wedding singer

“Not porno tongue, church tongue.”

The Scoop: PG-13 1998, directed by Frank Coraci and starring Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler and Christine Taylor.

Tagline: He’s gonna party like it’s 1985.

Summary Capsule: Adam Sandler is… not too annoying this time round, as he plays an aspiring songwriter who falls for a taken girl… in 1985.

Justin’s rating: Snarky.

Justin’s review: You’ve all heard me wax ’80s philisophic from time to time in these here reviews, so I suppose I should just once and for all get it out of my system. I love the ’80s, but I really never lived the 80s. I grew up slightly sheltered from pop culture, the music, clothing, movies, DeLoreans, and instead listened to the Golden Oldies my mom played in the car. Around 1996, I discovered what most people called their lives: the Decade of Me. And I loved it, particularly the music. Yes, it was mindless, the clothing styles blinded some, and it was people searching for identity.

Actually, I hated the ’90s, and all this alt-rock that you just generally nod to, plus people just never go for Steve Gutenberg anymore. What’s with that? Who knows. To actually start the review after making no point whatsoever, The Wedding Singer is perhaps one of the greatest tributes to the ’80s that has ever been made. It’s a wonderful commentary on the life and times of Material Girls (and Boys), with the additional bonus of being very funny and having a decent love story.

It’s not a deep, Godfather-kind of plot, but it does the trick. Boy likes girl, girl dumps boy on wedding day, boy goes for girl B, who is going out with boy B, who is a jerk but has muscles and money (which girls C through ZZZZZZZZ desire, as I understand it), but things work out in the end. It’s basically mindless, loud fun.

The music samples the best of early ’80s pop, from Billy Idol to New Order and the Police. When I was watching this for the first time, I kept singing along to all the snippets of the songs that slid between scenes. The colors are bright neon-ish hues, there are references to Dallas, the Rubix Cube, the birth of the CD player, the moonwalk, Madonna, Freddy Krueger… you name it, it is here. If it offends your style, then you’re probably one of those retro ’70s geeks that think polyester is the closest to heaven that you’ll ever wear next to your skin. God save you.

And, amidst all this time-warping nostalgia, Adam Sandler and Co. pull off strings of comedic talent. There are the traditional Sandler weirdoes, such as the meatball-rapping granny, the drunk Brother-In-Law, nipple-twisting, and Flock of Seagulls. Sandler himself has toned down quite a bit for this movie (from his raging idiot act that he pulled in Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore), and it comes off O.K. I wish he had ripped into the occassional actors a bit more, but, hey, it’s a romance! And speaking of which, can one ever get enough of Drew Barrymore? Nope, not in my book! She edges out Meg Ryan for “Maximum Cuteness Factor Of The Year”.

The plot is, yes, predictable. But it’s a formula that worked for many, many ’80s comedies, and it works well here. It’s a film that’s proud to be uncool in its coolness, and I proudly own BOTH soundtracks and the DVD.

PoolMan’s rating: Aw, it’s Adam Sandler, and he’s so loveable!

PoolMan’s review: Okay, I can admit it. I actually like another Adam Sandler movie (I was okay with the Waterboy). Boy, I’m turning into such a hypocrite. I’ve spent the last few years of my life crying out against his “retarded moron” routine, but now I have to go and find out that he actually made some decent movies, too?

The Wedding Singer wisely decides not to pander to the lowest common denominator, and in doing so, actually comes out very smart, funny, and sweet. Egad! I wish Sandler would get offered more material like this, cause I could actually spend more time talking about fun, charming movies (as opposed to him adopting a kid and teaching him how to hurt people on rollerblades… *I* rollerblade!!!). There were, admittedly, some moments where he skates the line between nice guy and the screaming idiot routine, but he hemmed it in before it got to me.

The fact that the whole movie is a throwaway ’80s running gag doesn’t interfere with a darned thing. Sure, you could tell the story in a contemporary mode (with the possible exception of Billy Idol’s cameo at the end) and set it in the ’90s, but it’s a guilty pleasure to be distracted with the big hair, retro music (and there’s a TON of that), and funny clothing. Is it required? No. Is it fun? Yep.

Another thing that makes Singer great is the wide selection of background ’80s bigshot wannabe characters. The brother in law who wears Michael Jackson’s trademark silver glove and red leathers (and, by the way, is a white Italian looking dude). The Madonna-inspired girlfriend. The OH-so Don Jonson bastard groom. The scarily good Boy George impersonator (who doesn’t know when to stop singing). Throw in some great character actors in the background just playing wierdos/bank executives, and you have some great action playing quietly in the shadows that just can’t be missed.

To make a long story short, I went into this with hopeful but decidedly low expectations. I came out of it with a new respect for Adam Sandler’s potential and some sore ribs. Score a copy and check it out!

He’s sad about his haircut.


  • Cameos from Steve Buscemi, and SNL vets Kevin Nealon and Jon Lovitz.
  • If you do or don’t like 80s music, the two soundtracks to this movie are ESSENTIAL to your collection. There are two Sandler originals, “Somebody Kill Me” and “I’ll Grow Old With You”. Throw in such hits like “White Wedding”, “Blue Monday”, “My Own Private Idaho”, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, and “Love Stinks”, and you have a great start (or capping) to your 80s collection.
  • Doing a retro movie lends itself to all sorts of goofs regarding the date of things. For example, the kid that throws up at the first wedding was wearing Z Cavaricci pants which were not available in 1985. Canadian Airlines did not exist in 1985. And J.R. was shot on Dallas in 1980, not 85.
  • Winner of our own Mutie award in 1999 for ‘Best Musical Number’

Groovy Quotes:

Man: We’re paying you to sing, not share your thoughts on life!
Robbie: Well I have a microphone and you don’t… so you will listen to every damn word I have to say!

Julia: Not porno tongue, church tongue.
Holly: Church tongue, I like that.

Robbie: When I put my mind to something, I go all the way. I’ll go all the way for you, sir. I’m a big fan of money. I have a little. I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I wanna put more in that jar. That’s where you come in.

Robbie: Now please get out of my Van Halen T-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up.

Robbie: Some of us will never ever find true love. Take, for instance…me. And I’m pretty sure that guy right there. And that lady with the sideburns. And basically everybody at table nine.

Rosie: When I got married, I wasn’t a virgin. I already had intercourse with eight men. That was a lot back then. That would be like 200 today.

Robbie: Well, we’re living in a material world, and I’m a material girl. Or Boy.

Robbie: Remember, alcohol equals puke equals smelly mess equals nobody likes you!

If you liked this movie, try:

  • Happy Gilmore
  • The Waterboy
  • 50 First Dates


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