Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Adam Sandler turns a new leaf in "The Week Of"

The Week of Review

I am starting to wonder what professional critics expect from Adam Sandler.

Maybe I think this because I was always one of Sandler's fans. I was front and center for his prime career. "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" and "Big Daddy" are all films I love. I even liked things like "Eight Crazy Nights" a movie that seemed to fizzle upon its release. Sure, not everything he did during that time was good, I honestly don't think I ever need to watch "The Waterboy" ever again. But even in those days, critics never really got Adam Sandler. Or maybe they were just predicting the future, because as Sandler moved into the 2000's, he appeared as a one-tricky pony, only capable of doing one thing. "Punch-Drunk Love" was an absolute fluke, and everything else he touched seemed like over-indulgence for the sake of it. Except maybe "50 First Dates."

This deal with Netflix seemed like a vanity project for the actor more than anything else. I watched "The Ridiculous 6" and I watched "The Do-Over" and I watched "Sandy Wexler." Out of all three of those, "Sandy Wexler" was the best, but possibly not worth the effort of signing a major deal with Sandler. The other two are your typical shitty Adam Sandler movies. Suddenly though, there seems to be a change. I would highly recommend seeking out "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" its on Netflix too, and its honestly a different kind of Adam Sandler comedy all together.

You can add "The Week Of" to the unique experience of the new Adam Sandler comedy. For the first time in his career, he isn't relying on his angry ranting humor to get him through a comedy. For the first time in his career, he is playing multiple characters and making up weird voices for them. For the first time in his career, he isn't running in circles making the same points in his movies over and over again. Although I will argue that there is a typical, raging Sandler comedy hidden in the subtext of the film, and perhaps ten years ago this could have looked a lot different. That's easily the most frustrating thing about an otherwise good movie.

The movie is about two families, one is led by Sandler and the other is led by Chris Rock. Their children is getting married, Sandler's daughter and Rock's son. Chris Rock plays a successful, super-rich doctor and Sandler plays your typical, Middle-Class man. Sandler is hellbent on paying for the whole wedding, even though his family doesn't have much and even though Rock has offered many times to help, he's financially stable, and Sandler really isn't. But he wants to impress his future son-in-law's family and really wants to give his daughter the best wedding ever. 

So in your everyday Sandler fashion, next to nothing goes well. There is a leak at the hotel everyone is staying at. Someone gets hurt at the bachelor party, and by the end of the movie, the wedding venue is on fire. There is also a laundry list of other things that make the wedding a near-disaster. But like I said above, the humor in the film isn't your typical Sandler humor. There is a dryer, less zany sense of humor to the story. It almost feels like a Woody Allen comedy for much of its running time, and its amazing to see Sandler having an actual character to play. He does incredible work, and he's still very funny here.

There are a couple Sandler regulars in here, and all the way through, it feels like a natural, organic comedy. It's not overly-slapstick or overly-deadpan. For someone who actually experienced an entire year of wedding planning, the jokes about anxiety of planning a wedding were dead on. The stress and needs of everyone involved can be crazy and just that, stressful. And I thought the movie had something very true to say about it. The movie itself, kinda finishes in the same Sandler fashion, but you know, by the end I didn't care. There was so much fun on display that I was happy with the experience. I know this got panned by critics, but again, as I opened this review, I don't get what critics want from him anymore. Just about all my favorite Sandler movies have been panned by the critics, and I still love all of them. I can also appreciate with "The Week Of" that an artist this late in his career can still try something new, and try different things. Change can be a good thing, and now my interest in Adam Sandler's Netflix run has gone up a bit. Something that I didn't think was possible.

FINAL GRADE: B+ 

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