The partnership between Adam Sandler and Netflix hasn’t necessarily yielded the best results in the early going, with the relentlessly abysmal The Ridiculous 6 and the equally repugnant The Do-Over. But Sandler’s die-hard fan base continues to stream his titles and Netflix has just recently extended their pact with Sandler. Now brings us the third movie from their ongoing partnership, Sandy Wexler. It’s a step up for Sandler’s output on the streaming service but that’s not to say that Sandy Wexler is a good movie. As a matter of fact, Sandy Wexler features Sandler in a one-note performance playing a one-note character in a movie that thinks the cultural differences of the ‘90s are a substitute for jokes. Even though it’s not particularly funny or clever and has a ridiculously long running time, Sandy Wexler isn’t on the level of aggressively awful that has defined Sandler’s most recent films.
Sandler stars as Sandy Wexler, a talent manager in Los Angeles in the ‘90s. He wears over-sized glasses, speaks in a nasally tone, and has an obnoxious fake laugh that he uses pacify his clients. He’s also a pathological liar, bending the truth constantly to boost his image for whatever suits his needs at the moment. Most of the characteristics about Wexler are conveyed through modern day footage of a variety of celebrities ranging from Vanilla Ice to Conan O’Brien talking about the eccentric behavior of the infamous manager. That’s just padding, and there’s a whole lot of padding, for the film’s central story of how Wexler transformed himself from a manager for acts on the fringe before making the big time with his pop star discovery Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson). Sandy finds himself infatuated with his rising star, and their professional relationship becomes strained with jealousy and poor negotiation tactics. The rollercoaster world of show biz takes Sandy Wexler on a number of ups and downs through the wild ‘90s.
Director Steven Brill, who also helmed The Do-Over for Sandler, is unable to find much of rhythm with this wildly scatterbrained comedy. The three credited screenwriters (Dan Bulla, Tim Herlihy, and Paul Sado) attempt to craft humor with an array of pop culture references that offer slight amusement, but quickly become tiresome as they’re often heavy-handed and are absolutely relentless. Referencing the changes of pop culture and technology is what counts for a joke in much of the astoundingly bloated Sandy Wexler. Yeah, Sandy Wexler isn’t actually funny and rarely has anything actually resembling a joke, but there’s at least a sense that there was an attempt to do something other than one of Sandler’s trademarked paid vacations masquerading as movies.
Further padding out the film is the variety of clients that Sandy Wexler represents on the lowest levels of show business. There’s the struggling ventriloquist (Kevin James), a struggling comic (Collin Quinn), a struggling daredevil (Nick Swardson), and a struggling wrestler (Terry Crews). These eccentrics might work as comedic flavoring in a more disciplined film but Brill and his team of writers can’t give these characters any real narrative purpose. Like the eponymous Wexler, they’re all one-note characters that might get a laugh or two because of their bad hair and silly clothes. The absolute lowest point of the film comes in the form of another repugnant racial caricature played by Rob Schneider, this time taking on an offensive Arabic accent and a couple layers of bronzer.
40 minutes could easily be cut from Sandy Wexler and the film would be all the better for it, though I don’t think there’s enough in the script that there’s actually a good movie buried in the bloat. We’ve seen Adam Sandler perform as a socially awkward person with a nasally voice before, and that’s really all there is to the character. The entire purpose of Sandy Wexler seems to be just letting Sandler play this type of character once again while saying “Things were different in the ‘90s – FUNNY!” There’s nothing within the film that allows to even operate as the slightest bit of insightful comedy about the nature of show business, be it the good, the bad, or the ugly. There’s still no reason that this overstuffed movie that’s so hopelessly dependent on celebrity cameos should run longer than Citizen Kane, Casablanca, or every single movie that the Coen Brothers have ever directed. Sandy Wexler is a bad movie, yes, but it’s not at the level of bad that made me actively hate it like I did with Sandler’s last two films. It’s a step up for Sandler, but that’s only because he’s fallen so low.
- Overall Score
A step up from the recent output of Adam Sandler, Sandy Wexler isn’t a good movie but at least it isn’t an aggressively awful, punishing piece of cinema like the last few films starring the famed funnyman.