Monday, July 31, 2017

Sandy Wexler

Year 9, Day 212 - 7/31/17 - Movie #2,701

BEFORE: All of the actors in the Adam Sandler-verse show up in this one - more cameos than I can count, with most of those people playing themselves.  Adam carries over from "The Ridiculous 6", for the last time in this chain, and so do another 6 or 7 actors.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I did sort of know Adam Sandler before he was famous - we crossed paths at NYU when we lived in the same dorm, though he was a senior when I was a sophomore, and I remember him getting the first pick of rooms in the dorm lottery - there was a penthouse of sorts in that dorm, and naturally whoever got first pick was expected to select the room on that floor.  We all knew he was going to be famous, because at that time he was appearing on "The Cosby Show" as Theo's token white friend, this was maybe a year or two before he started on SNL. 

THE PLOT: Sandy Wexler is a talent manager working in Los Angeles in the 1990's, diligently representing a group of eccentric clients on the fringes of show business.  His single-minded devotion is put to the test when he falls in love with his newest client. Over the course of a decade, the two of them play out a star-crossed love story.

AFTER: I hate to admit it, but this might be the best Adam Sandler movie of this bunch, maybe one of his best since "Punch-Drunk Love".  Which is not to say that it's phenomenal, it's just better than all the rest, because it feels more sincere, like there's some heart involved, and it's not just about dick jokes and poop jokes.  Sandy Wexler is based on Sandler's real manager, Sandy Wernick (who has a cameo as the man in the vegetative state...), but Sandler plays him like one of his SNL characters here, adopting a silly, scratchy voice and always seeming just a bit out of step with reality.

Wexler's an agent, so he's learned to lie, or more accurately, to tell people what he thinks they want to hear.  It's an acquired pattern of behavior, perhaps a defense mechanism so he doesn't ever come to terms with how moderately successful he is, always trying to break his clients in to something big, but never quite getting there.  And there's actual character growth involved when he finally decides to break the pattern, and start telling the truth, because he believes it will be better for him in the long-term.

Wexler's a screw-up, no doubt, but somehow he's a lovable screw-up, I guess because he comes off as sincere and innocent - or is it naive?  We want him (and by extension, his clients) to succeed because that would mean that the little guy has a chance in this world, and won't be beaten down by the large corporations that dominate the entertainment marketplace. Whether his client is an unlucky daredevil or a wanna-be wrestler, Sandy gives them the attention that they need, or is there for them around the clock, and that's significant.  Which makes me wonder if his type of manager has gone the way of the dinosaur, which would be a shame.                   

The framework, however, is set at some Hollywood function where many known celebrities are asked to give their opinion of Sandy Wexler, and collectively they end up telling the story of his career in the 1990's, which is then seen in flashback.  My problem tonight is not that there are so many flashbacks, but that the testimonials given are not funny themselves, which seems like a waste.  All those comedians (and actors, and singers...) and they weren't given the opportunity to tell jokes, it seems like such a waste.

Still, it's sweet that this hapless, luckless talent manager could develop an attraction to a client that he found working in a theme park, and that the two of them would cycle in and out of each other's lives for a decade, without Sandy being able to work up the courage to tell her how he feels.  You might start to wonder if this is just a romance that takes a long time to get off the ground, or if perhaps it's never meant to be.

Also starring Jennifer Hudson (last heard in "Sing"), Kevin James (last seen in "You Don't Mess With the Zohan"), Terry Crews (also carrying over from "The Ridiculous 6"), Rob Schneider (ditto), Nick Swardson (ditto), Jackie Sandler (ditto), Colin Quinn (last seen in "Trainwreck"), Lamorne Morris, Aaron Neville (last seen in "Everybody's All-American"), Jane Seymour (last seen in "Live and Let Die"), Luis Guzman (last seen in "The Do-Over"), Ido Mosseri (also last seen in "You Don't Mess With the Zohan"), Eugenio Derbez (last heard in "The Book of Life") with cameos from Rob Reiner (last seen in "The Wolf of Wall Street"), Chris Elliott (last seen in "The Rewrite"), Milo Ventimiglia (last seen in "Grown Ups 2"), Kate Micucci (last seen in "Don't Think Twice"), Arsenio Hall (last heard in "Igor"), Quincy Jones, Pauly Shore (last seen in "For Keeps?"), Janeane Garofalo (last seen in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"), Chris Rock (also last seen in "You Don't Mess With the Zohan"), Kevin Nealon (ditto), Henry Winkler (ditto), David Spade (also carrying over from "The Ridiculous 6"), Jon Lovitz (ditto), Vanilla Ice (ditto), Jared Sandler (ditto), John Farley (ditto), Dana Carvey (last heard in "The Secret Life of Pets"), Penn Jillette (last seen in "An Honest Liar"), Jimmy Kimmel (last seen in "Ted 2"), Conan O'Brien (last heard in "The Lego Batman Movie"), Jay Leno (last seen in "The Flintstones"), "Weird Al" Yankovic (last seen in "Spy Hard"), Louie Anderson (last seen in"Quicksilver"), Paul Rodriguez (ditto), Judd Apatow (last seen in "Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon"), Lorne Michaels, Mike Judge (last heard in "Nerdland"), Lisa Loeb (last seen in "Hot Tub Time Machine 2"), George Wendt, Richard Lewis (last seen in "Wagons East"), Jason Priestley (last seen in "Tombstone"), Darius Rucker (last seen in "Shallow Hal"), Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Mason "Ma$e" Betha, Al B. Sure, Brian McKnight, Tony Orlando (last seen in "A Star Is Born"), Gary Dell'Abate, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Clay Aiken, Downtown Julie Brown, Salt 'n Pepa, Jewel Kilcher, Solofa "Rikishi" Fatu Jr.

RATING: 5 out of 10 record company executives

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