SANDY WEXLER

Whenever I sit down for my nightly meal, I like to throw something on the TV to watch while I stuff my face. On a whim, and only because it was the first thing that popped up on the Netflix, I decided to watch Sandy Wexler. Sandy Wexler is the new Adam Sandler film produced by Netflix. Adam Sandler stars as Sandy Wexler, a clearly mentally challenged, compulsively lying Hollywood talent manager working in the 1990’s. After coming across talented, small town singer Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), he surprisingly jumpstarts her career, while unexpectedly falling in love.

I should preface this review by saying I’m not really a fan of Adam Sandler. I think his early films, like Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy, are fine and that’s not due to nostalgia. I’ve watched both within the past couple years and they’re funny films that have actual jokes, a genuine heart, and dialogue scenes that actually build the characters and make you laugh. Even Sandler is a decent actor in them. He’s clearly a talented man, showing that he can be quite good in dramatic roles, such as in Punch Drunk Love and Reign Over Me. Unfortunately, talent doesn’t mean much when you get lazy. Sandler eventually reached such a level of success and clout, to where movie studios would throw money at him for any idea he had. You ever noticed how often he goes to these exotic locales in his later films? It’s no surprise that he admitted in interviews that he only makes films now to go on vacations and hang out with his friends.

That laziness is out in full force in Sandy Wexler. Nothing is worse than starting an Adam Sandler film and he’s immediately doing a goofy voice, complete with a horribly obnoxious laugh. When Adam Sandler isn’t sleepwalking through a role wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he’s putting on an obnoxious voice with a silly mug. Next to Little Nicky, this is his most irritating character ever. He has only one trait: he always lies, the lies consisting of stuff along the lines of, “I did this (outlandish thing) for this (random celebrity).” This type of character could be funny, but with Sandler, it’s never endearing. It’s just irritating and awkward, because that’s all he ever does. Just tell these stupid lies, with no real character reason behind it. Does he do it to irritate people? Does he do it to try to impress them? I don’t know. He just does it. Many scenes just feel uncomfortable, because his character comes off as mentally deficient and socially unaware. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to be laughing at him, or with him. Either way, I wasn’t laughing.

That one character trait is one of the two types of jokes you’ll get out of this film. The only other type of jokes you’ll get are lame references to the 90’s, and some of those references only work in the context of the present. These jokes seem to be the only reason why they set this in the 90’s in the first place, as the film does a horrible job at representing the time period. It’s all used so people can say lines like, “Don’t invest in Apple. Computers are going nowhere.” Yeah, I get it, but it’s not clever, especially when those types of jokes are repeated ad nauseam. It gets to the point to where you can predict the punchline in almost every scene.

That’s really all of the comedy to be found here. There’s rarely any visual, or situational comedy, and those moments were when I actually found myself laughing. The rest of the time, I was just bored. At an offensively long runtime of 131 minutes, there are so many scenes that go absolutely nowhere, add nothing to the story, or characters, and worst of all, just aren’t funny. There are attempts at improv that completely flatline, the actors not playing off of each other well at all, mostly because Sandler gives them absolutely nothing to work with. He looks like he just wants to go home and take a nap. There are numerous set-ups for decent gags, but all Sandler does is yell and guffaw.

It has been a long time since I’ve seen a film so bereft of wit, creativity, and soul. Even the obligatory celebrity cameos are lazily integrated into the film. When we’re not treated to awful attempts at comedy and improvisation, we get asides featuring random celebrities talking about what kind of character Wexler is. That’s how everything about this film is conveyed: with Jimmy Kimmel, Henry Winkler, or whichever friend of Sandler’s just talking to the camera about Wexler and how obnoxious he is. There’s no attempt to give him any characterization through any other means. Gotta get those celebrity cameos in there somehow!

These seemingly random cameos all tie together at the end, when Sandler and director Steven Brill remember that films need things like a plot and a story. Jennifer Hudson’s character is relegated to emotional core and plot device roles, only there to provide some plot progression to Wexler, only to disappear until her next scene. Her character is the only earnestness I got out of the entire film, mostly due to Hudson’s natural performance. Every other attempt to inject any heart into the movie was so blatantly artificial, it may as well have been a pacemaker. It’s embarrassing that the filmmakers would think anybody would take Wexler’s sudden “character arc” at the end with any shred of seriousness.

Sandy Wexler is one of the most horrendously unfunny comedies I’ve ever witnessed. It’s been obvious for years now, but Adam Sandler just doesn’t care anymore. He knows that he doesn’t actually have to try and be creative. Any movie studio will throw a wad of cash his way, just so he can go on vacation and give his friend’s a small paycheck. As a person, he seems like a decent human being who actually cares for his friends and family, but as an artist, I find him despicable. His films represent a lot of what’s wrong with mainstream filmmaking today, especially in the comedy sphere. It doesn’t have to be like this, either. Sandler was on Saturday Night Live and you don’t get there by being lazy. He’s just at the point now to where his ego is so inflated, that he doesn’t even have to work, but still chooses to do so. What a depressing situation.

1.5/10

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