The latest Adam Sandler/Netflix comedy has arrived. Is it any good?
After two misfires with The Ridiculous 6 and The Do Over, the third Netflix exclusive comedy from Adam Sandler teams him up with Steven Brill. The two had previously worked together on Little Nicky and Mr Deeds, but also made The Do Over. But moving away from action comedy and focusing more on character work, Sandy Wexler at least seems to take a step in the right direction.
Sandler plays Sandy Wexler a manager working trying to earn a living in 1990s Hollywood. He has a stable of artists, including puppeteer Ted Rafferty (Kevin James), daredevil Gary Roberts (Nick Swardson), and wrestler “Bedtime” Bobby Barnes (Terry Crewes). However, he lives in the pool house of a huge property owned by a Jewish Iranian Firuz, and despite his claims otherwise, he is clearly on the outskirts of show business.
When Wexler sees Courtney Chase (Jennifer Hudson) singing in a theme park, he realises he has discovered a real star. He also finds himself falling for her. Can Wexler guide her on the path to superstardom? What obstacles will they have to overcome on the way? And can he still make time for his other clients?
Jennifer Hudson is fantastic as the extremely talented singer – not too much of a stretch! – but your enjoyment of the film will be based on if you can get on board with the Wexler character. He’s deliberately annoying, but if you stick with him, at least Sandler has created a full character in Sandy Wexler. There’s a framing device that allows stars in the modern day to talk about Wexler in his “heyday”, and there are some real stars – Lorne Michaels, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Dana Carvey among many others – that give the films a nice bit of gravitas. The period setting of 1990s Hollywood is really well done as well. Wexler meets Arsenio Hall at a news stand, Courtney does a MTV Unplugged show, and the mid-90s wrestling scenes look pretty realistic to WCW of that era. It’s cool to see Rikishi turn up as Bedtime’s opponent, and Terry Crewes might be the comedic highlight of the film. There are also a lot of cameo through Courtney Chase’s rise that I won’t spoil here, but they are a lot of fun, and don’t feel shoehorned in, even though some of them blatantly are!
Is this classic Sandler? No, it’s still a bit baggy at times, and not all of the jokes land, but it’s a lot better than his previous Netflix films. There’s plenty of mileage left in Sandler.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.