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The Wedding Singer (1998)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/7/2009

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/4/2009

When film buffs get together to talk, an enterprise which can often be a bit frightening, inevitably one question will arise: What movie have you seen in the theater the most times? For me, the answer to that question is Evil Dead II, which I saw in the theater four times (three times in one week. Don't ask.) If you ask me about the films that I've ventured to the cinema to view three times, The Wedding Singer is the first one to come to mind. Adam Sandler's ode to the 80s struck a chord with my wife and I and we simply kept finding ourselves going back to see it. The film has now come to Blu-ray Disc and I'm interested to see if it's still worth the devotion.

Sandler stars in The Wedding Singer as Robbie Hart, a wedding singer in a small New Jersey (New Hampshire?) town. He is good at what he does and he's very popular. Robbie primarily works the same wedding hall with his best friend, Sammy (Allen Covert), a limo driver, Holly (Christine Taylor), a waitress, and Julia (Drew Barrymore), Holly's cousin who is new in town and is waitressing as well. Robbie's also a hopeless romantic and he's looking forward to his own wedding with his fiancee, Linda (Angela Featherstone). So, one can only imagine Robbie's disappointment when Linda doesn't show up for their wedding. Later, she tells him that she's no longer in love with him. Robbie goes into a deep depression and finds that he can't be around weddings. Unfortunately, he'd promised Julia that he'd not only sing at her upcoming wedding, but that he'd assist with the planning as well. As Robbie and Julia spend more and more time together, he realizes that he's attracted to her and that he can't understand why she's marrying the boorish Glenn (Matthew Glave).

By 1998, Adam Sander was beginning to solidify himself as a minor movie star. He had starred in and been the driving force behind two movies, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. While both of those films had been modest box-office successes (which later gained a following on home video), the two movies were certainly not-mainstream fare. In both, Sandler played a man-child who was placed in a ridiculous situation and was often surrounded by obnoxious people. While I love both movies, I will be the first to admit that both are very silly and both feature the knack that Sandler's films have to wander into a very weird place -- what is up with the penguin in Billy Madison?

So, The Wedding Singer was somewhat of a departure for Sandler. While both Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore had contained love interests, The Wedding Singer is more of a straight-ahead romantic-comedy. In fact, the film's main premise is fairly standard stuff - boy has girl, boy loses girl, boy meets new girl who has a boy already, boy falls in love with new girl, etc. The most surprising element of all of this is that the romantic-comedy portions are actually romantic, and dare I say it, sweet. Sandler was beginning to make a career from playing jackasses, but Robbie Hart is simply a nice guy who loves to be in love. Thus, we are cheering for him to get the girl. Adding this element to his movies helped to open Sandler up to a wider audience.

But, don't assume that this means that The Wedding Singer is a "normal" movie. While the film will play in Peoria, Sandler and screenwriter Tim Herlihy haven't forgotten to pepper the film with oddities. From the opening scene where a drunken Steve Buscemi takes the stage to a cameo by an 80s legend in the finale, the movie isn't afraid to be a little "out there", and this is from where most of the comedy comes. The movie has some great throw-away lines and I can't tell you how many lines from the film I quote on a regular basis. The laughs also come from the pop-culture references to the 80s. Yes, they are scattershot and some of them are a bit inaccurate, but if you lived through that period, you will find them funny.

Adam Sandler would have most likely become a movie star sooner or later, but it was The Wedding Singer which really put him on the map, as the movie grossed twice as much as Happy Gilmore. The fact that Sandler is able to tone it down for the movie and play a likable guy certainly helps and his chemistry with Drew Barrymore is undeniable. I don't throw around the term "date movie" very often, but it fits here, as this movie has a little something for everyone.

The Wedding Singer heads for the cuckoos nest courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 15 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only mild grain and no defects from the source material. However, many shows look flat and the image doesn't show the kind of depth that we usually get from Blu-ray. The picture is detailed, but this detail reveals that some shots are slightly out of focus. The pastel-dominated color palette looks good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. From the outset, the in-film music sounds great here, as there is excellent stereo separation, some modest bass, and even some surround effects. However, the dynamic range here is not well-balanced and the music is far louder than the dialogue, so constant volume adjusting was called for.

The Wedding Singer Blu-ray Disc contains only two extras. "A Backstage Look at The Wedding Singer on Broadway" (11 minutes) takes us inside the creation of the stage musical version of the film. We get interviews with the creators of the show, along with the composers and the main actors. Unfortunately, we only get to see about 90 seconds from the actual musical. The other extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film. It should also be noted that this Disc contains an unrated cut of the film which runs about 5 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. I only noticed one new scene, an exchange between Robbie and Rosie (Ellen Albertini Dow) which leads to a conversation with Robbie and Julia.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long