The Wedding Singer / Brian Prisco
Hangover Theater | March 28, 2008 | Comments ()
Let’s talk liquor. I was always under the mistaken impression that most alcoholic drinks were spawned out of necessity and availability. We’ve got half a bottle of peppermint schnapps, Captain Morgan, some Sunny D, and a smashed up box of Saltines. We’ll call it the Bitchy Pirate! Then add a sprinkle of nutmeg and the residual goldflakes at the bottom of a Goldschlager bottle and it becomes a Bitchy Pirate Booty. But I was wrong, oh so wrong. Bartending is an exact science, and I speak with all the experience of my two weeks worth of classes to earn my mixology degree (the grad school of alcoholics).
There exists a potent potable that many of us are familiar with, that comes in several nefarious variations, and that is guaranteed to knock you on your fat Aunt Sally: The Long Island Iced Tea. The recipe is 1 part vodka, 1 part tequila, 1 part rum, 1 part gin, 1 part triple sec, fill with sour mix, add a splash of Coke for coloring and Odelay! When mixed properly, these seemingly disparate elements combine into a smooth cocktail that tastes vaguely of Nantucket Nectars Iced Tea and goes down quicker than Ashton Kutcher servicing Demi for his monthly Punk’d allowance. A common rookie mistake is to try to overcompensate on the liquor to make the drink stronger. But the point of the Long Island Iced Tea is not the amount of alcohol but the sheer velocity at which you can consume it. Even if you despise tequila or you can’t stand gin, for some reason, when they are shaken up in this precise combination, you can slurp away with pride.
And such is the case with my entry for this week’s Hangover Theatre, The Wedding Singer. It mixes individual ingredients known to cause vomiting and rage from even the most liver-hardened Pajibbasauri, but here, in this clever little romantic comedy, it’s damn refreshing and tasty. Adam Sandler and his frattacular cronies seem like the kind of guys who would slop up a big batch of jungle juice, throw on Paul’s Boutique, and cracker dance until the date-rape drugs kicked in. But for some reason, the planets aligned themselves, the Keymaster porked the Gatekeeper, and we’ve got bush.
The Wedding Singer takes place in that finest of decades, the Eighties, the rum which John Hughes and John McTiernan decided they would divvy in twain for total domination. Stagger in to any karaoke bar on a loud weekday night, guaran-damn-teed, 70 percent of what you will hear warbled through the PA will be from this era. During the course of the night, someone will be a cowboy, on a steel horse they ride. They will be dancing with themselves. They will be tin roof. Rusted. This movie arguably resurrected karaoke nights and birthed the furiously shocked “American Idol” auditioners who believed the margarita-saturated nods of their friends when told they should toooootallly try out you’re so good oh my god totally pass the nachos I’m going to be soooo fat.
Yes, it does get a little cutesy/precious/nauseating with some of the constant wink-nudge Don’t-You-Love-The 80’s! references throughout. Glenn paid $700 for a CD player, because back then it was so expensive. Or that the clerk at the airline has Flock of Seagulls hair. Tee hee! Stop, or my mom will shoot! Most of it seemed slapped on so they could assemble the trailer from those chunks. But there were “payoffs.” When the ex-girlfriend stands there in the Van Halen T-shirt, and he shouts at her, “Take it off, before you jinx them and they break up.” Or Ellen Dow, who’s doomed to forever play Coked-Out Slightly Bizarre Gramma, doing “Rappers Delight”? I guess that’s funnier than dropping an air conditioner on the Meesta Meesta lady. But only slightly.
Now, I must confess, I liked Adam Sandler. I still laugh at The Goat, from the old comedy CDs. The old man was like, put up your dukes, and I was all, I got no fucking dukes, old man. That makes me laugh. Hard. And I was the target audience of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. I love every moment of those two Stop Looking At Me Swan, The Price Is Wrong Bitch, You Eat Pieces of Shit For Breakfast films unabashedly and unironically. And Madison featured one of the greatest verbal smackdowns in cinematic history:
Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Hell, I can relate. See all of my previous work. Which makes Adam Sandler the fratboy tequila of our mix.
Adam Sandler approached the summit of Mount Successful Comedian, and thought, “There is no way I can fuck this up. All I have to do is talk in a funny voice, make my friends talk in funny voices, say “Zahbadoo!” and it’s cinematic gold!” But, like those who came before him, he decided to tempt fate. One more shot. That’s when the “good” decisions start up. Like, fuck the morons who could not appreciate the sarcotastic glory of The Last Boy Scout, I can take Damon Wayans and make a far worse buddy-action comedy. Even when Paul Thomas Anderson reached down from the heavens and took his car keys, and said, “I’ll give you the best role you’ll ever have,” Sandler snorted derisively and said, “Another Cuervo, senor! Zabahdee!” He got insane drunk on his success, caught his reflection in the mirror, ignored the taped-up obituaries of Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller’s careers, and said, “I am a romantic lead! Women love me!” And he proceeded to get sloppier (Mr. Deeds), and sloppier (Spanglish), and just downright inappropriate (Chuck and Larry). Then he hit the Hulk Smash phase, where he drops trou and decides to crap out films from his production company like a wayward toddler pooping into his Play-Doh Factory so he can make funny shapes. But he wasn’t finished. Then he was going to smear his bad name over the faces of every single solitary lady ever to accept an awkward kiss as his co-star. All except one. Our Lady Vodka.
Drew Barrymore. Gaze upon her and realize there is hope for Lindsay Lohan. There is hope for every starletard ever to get residual puke on their Pradas when doubled over a toilet in some West Hollywood club stall. These girls think they are badass? Teen Drew Barrymore would have ground them under her heels, snorted them and smoked the rest. And she still would have showed up to dry hump Tom Skerritt in Poison Ivy. A little jail time? Bitch, please. Drew Barrymore has a sharpened toothbrush smeared with some prag’s blood for every minute Paris Hilton spent in her cell. She married Tom Green, the original Herpes Simplex Virus. Twice. He didn’t have testicular cancer. She took his balls. She’s made an AIDS Quilt out of all the horrible fucked up shit she did in her life, and she will make you eat every fucking square if you cross her. She walked into hell and came out with her own semi-successful production company. Drew Motherfucking Barrymore, the hope for the new generation.
Drew Barrymore is America’s Fucking Sweetheart, and nowhere is she more endearing than in this movie, in this role. Even when they blatantly try to recapture the magic by flying her to Hawaii, smashing her on the head with a frying pan between takes to keep her delirious, and then cutting together the footage and calling it 50 First Dates, it could not hold a candle to the awesome level of adorable that she achieves in this film. Babies holding puppies holding tinier babies holding kittens wish they were the future Mrs. Julia Gulia. Granted, it’s not a particularly enlightened or empowered role. It’s the princess getting rescued from the Miami Vice dude wearing dragon by a dude with lame hair and an acoustic guitar belting out the cheesiest Kraft Mac and This Fucking Song ever. But for this movie, in this combination, it works.
On to the gin, which for me is Sandler’s need to fill his movies with a bevy of mutants and hangers-on that I would like to see pitted against the cast of “Entourage” in a Who’s More Fucking Useless Baked-Off. Some of the regulars are here, but sans the sullying effect of Rob Schnieder, they’re goddamn endearing. Allen Covert should have finished his role as Sammy, the best friend/limo driver pall of Robbie, walked into the street, shot himself in the face and landed under a bus, so he could have gone out in style instead of wallowing along in progressively more awful roles until the piece of shit de resistance, Grandma’s Boy. Alexis Arquette, who is the fifth on my list of Arquettes I Like, even manages to pull off a couple of solid laughs as George, the gender questionable keyboardist/clarinetest/Culture Club butcher band member. (For the record, Arquettes I Like, in order: Patricia, David, Rosanna, Courtney Cox, Alexis. Which is weird, because I have thoroughly enjoyed the movies Alexis has been in, but I just don’t like he/she/it. DO NOT WANT.) And Christine Taylor is so wonderful as the slutty cousin/barmaid, that I almost feel bad she’s forever tethered to Eyebrows McGee. It’s OK, Marcia. Brotherman’s due for a comeback. And hey, at least you’re not a beard. How’s that working out, Sex in the City?
The cameos are the sours mix in this film, where Sandler cashes in on every favor he has to worthwhile results. Steve Buscemi chugs a fifth of failure, hikes up his tuxedo pants, and staggers his way through a hilarious turn as a miserable bastard best-man, only to turn up later in a quality payoff as a wedding singer. Only to be topped by Jon Lovitz, who’s Jimmie Moore makes me willing to forget every hair-pick frame of High School High, if only for his disgustoriffic rendition of Ladies Night. Oh, you want more? Let’s seal the deal with Billy Idol, who despite being something like 745 years old, totally lampoons the shit out of himself and reminds you why it’s a nice day to motherfucking start again. Wahooooow.
It all comes together in a delightful little cocktail that you can sip and forget. It’s a great film to wash away the taste of the weekend, and all your bad breakups, and it’s even alright sans most of the occasional “shits” you’d miss while watching it on ABC Family this weekend. Besides, it’s either this or watching the NCAA Tournament to see if you won a Pajiba T-shirt. (I’m kidding. You’ll all be passed out on the couch, drunk on wine, cuddling something small and furry, while you pore through your Netflix queues, or blow up shit on the Xbox. I know you people. I walk among the rows.)
Brian Prisco is a warrior-poet from the valley of North Hollywood, by way of Philadelphia. He wastes most of his life in desk jobs, biding his time until he finally becomes an actor, a writer, or cannon fodder in the inevitable zombie invasion. He can be found shaking his fist and angrily shouting at clouds on his blog, The Gospel According to Prisco.