‘Sandy Wexler’: Adam Sandler’s latest is a stunningly-outdated waste of time
To judge whether or not Sandy Wexler succeeds as a contemporary comedy, one only needs to watch the final ten minutes, which features Sandler’s nasal-voiced schmuck Sandy perform a sincere rendition of “There’s No Business Like Showbusiness” at a wedding, succeeded briskly by prank calls involving Gary Busey and — we’re not kidding — Beavis & Butthead. Such is Sandler’s lack of cultural awareness that Sandy Wexler — a tragically unfunny attempt at a Hollywood satire from the writer/producer/star — swings between scenes and gags that belong in the worst 1960s comedies, the worst 1980s comedies and the worst 1990s comedies. Sandy Wexler isn’t even consistent in its irrelevance.
Sandy, apparently inspired by Sander’s own talent agent, is a well-intentioned compulsive liar who lurks at parties looking for young women to transform into stars. He dresses poorly, wears glasses and has an insufferable laugh: that’s a pretty clean summary of Sandler’s performance in this film. It’s by no means the actor’s worst work in recent years; Sandy is arguably his most likeable character since Jill in 2011's Jack & Jill. The Sandy persona might’ve been solidly amusing in a 6-minute SNL sketch, but this film is — wait for it — Two Hours And 11 Minutes Long. Seriously.
Sandler’s massively one-sided distribution deal with Netflix (he makes rubbish films, Ted Sarandos has to defend them to the press) has merely increased his sense of entitlement and dangerous levels of creative freedom. Someone needs to remind him that his best self-produced films — Big Daddy, Billy Madison, Mr. Deeds — were all under 100 minutes. As a lifelong defender of his shtick, even I am in no doubt that Adam Sandler comedies cannot sustain more time than that.
Sandy Wexler doesn’t even attempt to follow a traditional/bearable narrative structure: it steals freely from Broadway Danny Rose in its cutaway interviews with Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien etc. It follows the rise and fall of Sandy’s star client, played by Jennifer Hudson, but gets lost in a series of subplots (Kevin James as a ventriloquist, Terry Crews as a wrestler) until the plot eventually collapses inwards. One particular lowlight is a suicide joke that’s neither funny nor comedically justified; in a film that seems desperate to be charming and sincere, it’s a stunningly misjudged inclusion.
I feel as though I’ve written the same paragraph over and over for the past 5 or 6 years: that Adam Sandler is capable of greatness (see my recent appraisal of Funny People) but has lost his way. I’m close to giving up hope that he’ll ever be truly funny again. Sandy Wexler could probably be worse. Have our Sander standards been so lowered that “could probably be worse” feels like a complement?