Jack and Jill, the Grown-Ups movies, That’s My Boy – Adam Sandler appears to have made it his mission to make some of the most puerile, tone-deaf and downright lazy comedy films of the past decade.
His name may now strike fear into the hearts of movie critics everywhere, but believe it or not there was a time when the 51-year-old was funny, watchable and even charming.
None more so than in his breakthrough box-office hit, The Wedding Singer, which was released in US cinemas 20 years ago today (February 13).
Here’s a look at why the 1998 rom-com is the Adam Sandler film you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit liking.
Sandler actually tries
Apart from the occasional flicker of promise (The Meyerowitz Stories), Adam Sandler has virtually sleepwalked his way through his movies this decade, suggesting that he’s now content to just take the money and run.
But in The Wedding Singer he actually makes an effort.
Not only does he convince at the rom-com stuff, but as a wannabe rock star disillusioned with his much less glamorous job, and life in general, he also displays the kind of pathos that would later win him acclaim in Punch Drunk Love and Funny People.
His musical efforts in the film show Sandler at the top of his game. The quiet/loud emo-rock of Somebody Kill Me and surprisingly sweet Grow Old With You are two of his finest comedy songs.
Its leading lady
Although her career was hardly in the doldrums – she’d fronted Scream just two years previously – Drew Barrymore’s leading lady days were considered to be behind her.
But she reminded everyone of her effortless charm here with an appealing performance as the waitress who must choose between Sandler’s Robbie and her pig of a fiancé Glenn (Matthew Glave).
Following The Wedding Singer’s release, Barrymore became something of a rom-com regular, appearing in the likes of Never Been Kissed, Fever Pitch and Music & Lyrics, just to name a few.
Sandler and Barrymore’s chemistry
Sandler has attempted to play the romantic lead in nearly all of his Happy Madison productions, but he’s only ever truly convinced when starring opposite Drew Barrymore.
Wisely, he’s teamed up with the actress on two further occasions, with the pair displaying their natural chemistry in 2004’s quite decent 50 First Dates and 2014’s less decent Blended.
It’s actually funny
Whereas latter-day Adam Sandler films appear to believe that simply dressing up in drag, acting like a petulant manchild and talking in a silly voice is comic gold, The Wedding Singer actually has a plot, character development and yes, actual jokes.
Highlights include Steve Buscemi’s hilariously off-tandem drunken wedding speech and Robbie making Madonna’s joyous Holiday sound like a murder ballad.
As you’d expect from a film steeped in the 1980s, the soundtrack of The Wedding Singer is bursting with iconic pop singles, from New Order’s seminal Blue Monday to David Bowie’s No.2 hit China Girl.
The film’s cast also put their own stamp on several classics, with Jon Lovitz’s crazed take on Ladies Night being a particular standout.
The rapping granny
Although Sandler and Barrymore are both pretty delightful, it’s two supporting characters who steal the show.
Firstly, there’s Ellen Albertini Dow as the adorable, rapping granny who decides to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary by spitting some rhymes, and pays her tutor, Robbie, in meatballs (straight to his hands) for helping her learn how to do so.
The androgynous backing musician
Secondly, there’s the late Alexis Arquette’s George Stitzer, Robbie’s androgynous bandmate, who is quite blatantly inspired by Boy George.
Sporting Boy George’s famous coloured dreadlocks and top hat combo, George brilliantly confuses one particular wedding party when he takes to the stage to perform the Culture Club classic, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, not just once, but twice, in quick succession.
Even Boy George himself was a fan.
The ‘80s references
Okay, the ‘80s references are so shoehorned in that The Goldbergs looks understated in comparison, but still, it makes for one entertaining nostalgia trip.
The airline worker’s A Flock of Seagulls-inspired haircut, Glenn’s obsession with Miami Vice and Billy Idol playing himself are just a few of the affectionate nods to the decade that taste forgot.