Director: Robert Smigel | Screenwriter: Robert Smigel, Adam Sandler | Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rachel Dratch, Steve Buscemi, Allison Strong, Noah Robbins | Distributor: Netflix | Running Time: 116 min. | MPAA Rating: PG-13
It was so refreshing to see Adam Sandler in a capable comedy of The Meyrowitz Stories that something as tedious as The Week Of is a depressing return to form. It’s back to basics for Sandler’s Happy Madison production template, pursuing family-centric comedy that outdoes itself to be as obnoxious as possible for replicating Father of the Bride. The shift in stories that an older Sandler can relate to proves that the aged comedian is maturing in premise but still stuck in the low-brow mud.
Compared to Sandler’s more audacious productions of The Ridiculous Six and The Do-Over, a more down-to-earth story of feuding fathers over a wedding would appear to be a safer bet from the usual vulgarity. Sandler plays Kenny, the father struggling to put on a wedding for his daughter, but doesn’t have the coordination or the funds to balance it all without turning in a trainwreck of an event. If I had the time to dig deeper, I may correlate this character to be more personal and indicative of Sandler’s career, trying to accomplish so much on his own when he’s clearly overwhelmed. His character continues to invite guest after guest into his cramped house as the wedding spins further out of control. The groom’s father, the wealthy doctor Kirby (Chris Rock), offers to pay for a proper and fancy wedding, but if he did that there’d be no wacky hi-jinks at a crumbling motel ballroom. Sandler’s character is not only keeping the wedding on schedule but the disaster as well.
One would think that Sandler is treading on safe ground with a film that’s all about family. He somehow manages to avoid the easiest route of offensiveness for the clash of a white and black family under one roof. There’s hardly a race joke present, with the exception of a dig about our racial differences in the preparation of potato salad. But if you’re concerned the film won’t crash and burn with immorality, worry not! In fact, the lump of tastelessness is reserved for a singular figure, Kenny’s eldest relative with both legs lost to diabetes. He served his country for a brief period and has access to a military uniform, making it easy enough for Kenny to ride the pity train and sell the community that his relative lost his legs in the war. But he wouldn’t stoop that low, would he? If you’re asking yourself this question, you’ve obviously never seen a Happy Madison production, where a sleepwalking guest fondling the grandpa’s leg nubs and mistaking them for breasts is par for the course.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a wacky Sandler movie without antics most random. To appease the angry black ladies of the groom side, Kenny treats the eldest of the lot to cat-like contact lenses, which she will keep in her eyes throughout the wedding. Steve Buscemi pops up now and then as the more deadbeat of party suppliers but manages to come through with disgustingly oversized bottles of Kaluha and containers of Toblerone. Ah, there’s that familiar odor of the shameless product placement. Listen closely and you can hear the marketing executives salivating at the mouth off-camera for how crystal-clear the products are presented front and center.
The Week Of is a sloppy mess of sitcom antics that are relentlessly piled on by the pound to a degree where the narrative mutates into a garbage pile of cliches and cringe. Like the grandma that thinks you look thin and won’t stop serving you seconds, this is a wedding comedy that presents so many faulty avenues of funny and believes it’ll be hilarious when it all converges on a ceremony of leaking roofs and explosives electronics. The most identifiable character in this chaos is Chris Rock, making the smart call of not entering the film until the second act and wisely so. Every moment he spends in Kenny’s house is agony, cluttered with too many bitter and destructive personalities. He will eventually come around to accepting the family, but with that familiar smile of tolerating the people that nobody else would want to be around. You can’t exactly pick your family, but you can pick your family comedies and one shoudn’t think twice about glazing over a film where the family lies about the diabetes of a relative so they can fund their wedding. It’s going to take more than slapstick of Rock being pulverized by a chandelier to let something that vile slide.