A lot shaggier and lived in that I would expect from a Happy Madison joint. This forgoes the temptation to be mindlessly broad and gross-out most of the time, instead staging a character comedy of duelling families – one jewish, one black – around the tried-and-tested template of a wedding farce. It works! I buy this cast in these roles (everyone always forgets that Buscemi is a Sandler regular) and the whole film feels busy in a good way; busy with personalities, busy with gags – both verbal and physical. It’s always moving, with writer director Robert Smigel favouring a roaming handheld camera to keep all the chaos barely contained with some genuinely inventive staging here and there where it counts. A touching moment between Sandler and Rock, for example, is played out while the two are in chairs being hoisted in the air by a mass of party guests.
As fine as Sandler is here, he can’t help but skew himself a little bit off centre, employing one of his slightly exaggerated voices to appear just a blip more animated than would be if playing the role as himself. It’s as if Sandler is afraid to just be himself in his own comedies, but this could also be a desire of his to search for something more specific. He seems happy to give himself over to people like Baumbach but always bends towards heightened character work in his own movies where, I’m guessing, he has total freedom. So perhaps that’s merely the muse he enjoys chasing.
All in all this was a lot more enjoyable than it had any right to be. I used to keep up with Sandler’s movies religiously but drifted off when the going got tough. Recently I’ve been curious to go back and fill in all those blanks, if just to chart the trajectory that got him here. Heard some moderately good things about Sandy Wexler too. The low-key stakes and specificity in the portrait of a dysfunctional jewish family pays off. More like this please Sandman!
Watched on Netlflix