Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Sandler Wexler

Today's review is brought to you in anticipation of an exciting development of my life in film analysis. I will soon be releasing a video essay on the filmography of Adam Sandler and to celebrate and prepare you for this event, let's take a look at his most recent release. This is Sandy Wexler.

The titular Sandy (Adam Sandler) is a talent manager; not a talent agent though, he's quick to point out that the former means family. He has a small body of odd-job clients on the lowest rung of entertainment which he lies to constantly and a party of other celebrities inform us through faux-interviews about Sandy's other annoying habits. Despite having the appeal of a toad, Sandler manages to sign Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), a young singer who has that something special. As her talent is recognised and Sandy's affections for her grow, she begins to be drawn to the bigger agencies and the disappointment begins to affect Sandy's work and relationships.

Sandy Wexler is one of Sandler's completely unjustified now eight film deal. However, it is also the most complete. Don't misunderstand this, the film is heavily flawed, but after his last two dismal efforts (that is, The Ridiculous 6 and The Do-Over), Sandy Wexler almost seems good. It's by no means Sandler's best performance or even close, but it is consistent and oddly likeable. Despite all of Sandy's habits, he is strangely charming with Sandler fitting the role well. It gave purpose to his annoying voices, though at times they can grate. Oscar winner Hudson doesn't feel out of place here either and seems to draw out Sandler's better performance, similar to the way Jack Nicholson did in Anger Management. This being said, Sandy seems older than Sandler and Courtney feels younger than Hudson, creating a jarring and uncomfortable tension between the romantic leads. It never quite feels natural or professional - he is her manager after all.

Where Sandy Wexler falls down is primarily in every other aspect. It's length is completely unnecessary; there is not enough narrative to fill its two hour runtime, which leaves director Steven Brill cutting away to too many celebrity talking heads, and spending too much time with pointless side characters (do Nick Swanson's daredevil or Jackie Sandler's struggling actress add anything to the story arch at all?). Despite that extra length, the conclusion is entirely unsatisfactory and unrealistic. Throughout the second half of the movie, Sandy's career starts to plummet but after one nonsensical scene where he is literally a puppet for ventriloquist Ted Rafferty (Kevin James), everything suddenly turns around but without rhyme or reason. It's a little bit too neat and a huge let down. However, there are some redeeming factors. There are some excellent lighting choices and, perhaps an even rarer experience in a Sandler movie, some genuinely funny moments.

The stakes in Sandy Wexler are never quite high enough to make us care. Is the love story, Courtney's success, or the rest of Wexler Artist's careers the main focus on the story? What's Sandy's objective? It's clunky and messy, but endearing and charming. The support cast are predictably terrible, Rob Schneider is again playing the token foreigner, but Sandy has a heart it's not some lazy half-assed attempt at story-telling like Sadler's recent outings. It's the first time in years that Sandler is producing a story he seems to care about and while it is not a great success, it is a step in the right direction.

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