Rated PG-13 - Running time: 1:35 - Released 2/13/98

As a spokesman for anyone who came of age in the 1980s, Adam Sandler is well cast in The Wedding Singer. Despite a simplistic plot by Tim Herlihy, Sandler hilariously conveys the angst-ridden sensibilities of the late-baby boomers in the middle of the Reagan years.

Sandler is Robby, a kid who planned to be a rock star but had to pay the bills. Now (1985) he's in his late twenties, singing current top-40 tunes at weddings. He hasn't exactly fulfilled his dreams, but he's happy because he himself is to be married next week. But when his fiancée Linda (Angela Featherstone) stands him up at the altar, his whole outlook changes. He decides to quit singing at weddings after a hilarious sequence where he tries to sing Madonna's "Holiday" while on the verge of tears. The trouble is, his friend Julia (Drew Barrymore), who is also about to wed, wants him to sing at her nuptials. But when her intended, Glenn (Matthew Glave), starts to show that he is an arrogant jerk, the two friends fall for each other. Like I said, simple.

By far the most enjoyable aspect of this movie is playing "spot the '80s reference." The film is loaded with them, and in fact goes a little too far. The clothing and hair styles, cars, music, and pastimes are enough, but it is a little tiresome when the characters keep "predicting" things that we know turned out differently. Another problem is that this '80s flashback may only be really effective on a small section of the population. Any audience member over 40 probably wouldn't have any emotional connection to 1985, and those under 25 wouldn't remember anything but what toys they played with.

The relationship between Robby and Julia is cute but too sugary. Barrymore's smile is engaging, but the fact that she can't stop smirking through the entire movie takes away from that. Sandler is not equipped to portray a serious love affair, but reasonably well-suited for a light romance such as this. Mostly he's funny when performing his act. And another nod must go to Boy George impersonator Alexis Arquette, who sings backup for Robby. His interpretation is right on, but again, anyone not too familiar with Boy George wouldn't get many of the jokes.

This movie is great for a few laughs, especially if you fall into the right age category. But don't expect it to change your life. ***

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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