One-hundred thirty-one minutes. Let that sink in. 131 minutes. Two hours and eleven. That’s the length of Sandy Wexler, the latest in what is sure to be a never-ending stream of Adam Sandler Netflix comedies. That is also, as a good friend pointed out on Twitter, 12 minutes longer than Citizen Kane, with which this tale of an astonishingly inept Hollywood manager shares some structural affinities.
It unfolds in flashback and features present-day testimonials from a gaggle of celebrities who have gathered to honor the titular Sandy (Sandler, sporting oversized glasses and speaking in a Jerry Lewis whine) for an initially unspecified reason. Among those on call (because what better way to get this review to word count): Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, David Spade, Conan O’Brien, Mike Judge, Janeane Garofalo, Henry Winkler, Jon Lovitz and — in the same bloody one-shot! — Penn Jillette, Vanilla Ice and Dr. Drew Pinsky. And hey, look, there’s Judd Apatow, the king of bloated running times! Cool meta aside there, A-Sands, who co-wrote the script, such as it is, with Paul Sado and Dan Bulla.
There was a time, however, when Sandy wasn’t so beloved: “In the time, of course … of Timecop!,” as Master Shake intoned in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. (See, Adam? I haz referencez, too!) A billboard for the Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi action flick is just one of the many onscreen allusions (Fruitopia and Green Day are but two others) that situate the story of Sandy Wexler in the mid-1990s. That’s when our bespectacled, plaid-shirted, beeper-sporting protagonist is barely making a living catering to a talent-free roster of clients (chief among them Kevin James, as a ventriloquist with dreams of UPN network glory) and pissing off playing-themselves celebs like Arsenio Hall and Quincy Jones (who were hopefully, like all involved, handsomely paid and/or extremely well fed).
But Sandy’s bad luck takes an upward turn after he spots the divine Courtney (Jennifer Hudson) singing at an amusement park. What a voice! What talent! What a woman! She could be the next big pop sensation, and perhaps, as quickly becomes apparent, Mrs. Sandy Wexler. Uh … yuck. Sandler’s drool-accompanied ogling of the female form is now near Woody Allen levels of ick. And the idea that any character played by Jennifer Hudson — who deserves another Academy Award for the commitment she brings to her role — would give this moronic cretin the time of day is about the only amusing thing in the whole misbegotten enterprise. As with almost every Sandler vehicle, this is an adoring ode to a lifelong man-baby who mistakes his half-assed excretions for art. (You might at least make sure the boom mic doesn’t dip into frame, dude.)
It’s easy to hate a film that features Jane Seymour as Sandy’s horndog, 9-1/2 Weeks referencing neighbor, as well as that walking race-baiter Rob Schneider as an Iranian billionaire named Firuz. It’s easy to love one (a grain of wheat among the multitude of chaff) that features “Weird Al” Yankovic as both the voice of wisdom and heckler of Clay Aiken (how the American Idol mighty have fallen). I’m still trying to decide where a scene in which Terry Crews is near-anally smothered by an especially obese sumo wrestler falls on the scale of offense. This is something to ponder. For 131 minutes, at least.
Production companies: Happy Madison Prods., Netflix
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Hudson, Kevin James, Terry Crews, Nick Swardson, Rob Schneider, Jane Seymour, Aaron Neville, Arsenio Hall
Director: Steve Brill
Screenplay: Paul Sado, Dan Bulla, Adam Sandler
Producers: Adam Sandler, Allen Covert
Executive producers: Barry Bernardi, Tim Herlihy
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Editor: Tom Costain
Production designer: Perry Andelin Blake