Netflix recently claimed their users have spent 500 million hours watching Adam Sandler movies, or something around 29 million hours a month since The Ridiculous 6 in 2015. If that's true, and we have no reason to doubt them, then Netflix should be convicted of crimes against humanity. Nothing wrong with them having an exclusive deal with Sandler, one they just re-upped another four movies on, but could we get one of those rare Sandler movies of quality, please? It doesn't even have to be on the level of Punch Drunk Love. We'll take Reign Over Me. Just please, give us something better than Sandy Wexler.
A period piece set in 1994, Sandy Wexler is so bad you'll want to go back in time and erase Netflix from the timeline. This is one of those Sandler comedies where he takes on a wildly over-the-top, hyper-annoying persona that would be fine for an SNL sketch, and then sticks with it for an entire feature length movie. You might say, "Oh, well Sandler movies are usually 90 minutes so that's not too bad." Nah, son. Sandy Wexler clocks in at an unholy 131 minutes, more than enough time for you to reconsider the path your life has taken. I nearly turned in my film critic card about halfway through.
For the most part the film is total inoffensive, it just isn't funny at all and has zero direction. But it doesn't set out to degrade women like Sandler's last film, The Do-Over; nor does it set out to embarrass Native Americans like The Ridiculous 6. In fact, Sandler does seem to be trying to say something sweet about his longtime manager, the man who inspired the Sandy Wexler character. Of course, he's doing it in typical Sandler fashion which is by hiding anything decent about him under some ugly high-water pants, a nasally voice, a disruptive high-pitched laugh that always sounds fake, and a chronic case of lying. But, like the cavalcade of celebrity cameos insists (And seriously, practically all of Hollywood appears in this thing), Wexler genuinely cares about his clients, working diligently to make them happy. He's a talent manager who is all about the "management" aspect, which is why he can agree to work with a talentless wannabe Evil Knievel (Nick Swardson) or a hokey puppeteer (Kevin James) even though their prospects are limited.
That loyalty is eventually rewarded when Sandy happens upon Courtney (Jennifer Hudson, deserving MUCH better), an incredible singer he discovers performing The Ugly Duckling at an amusement park. Sandy's cheesy lines may not work on more experienced stars (Arsenio Hall literally runs away), but Courtney falls for it hook, line, and sinker. It's to both of their shock that their oddball pairing actually seems to work, and she becomes the biggest success Sandy has ever had.
In general, that's the setup for a pretty inoffensive comedy, and for the most part that's what Sandy Wexler is. It's also got a pretty good message about being loyal to the people who put their trust in you. And if you want to take it a step further, it's also about finding and creating a family wherever you can find it, especially in Hollywood where being crowded is no cure for loneliness. So kudos to Sandler for...being decent, I guess? But did it have to be through such an unbearable character as Sandy Wexler? You know it's bad when the best scenes are of others (Chris Rock, Judd Apatow, and Conan O'Brien among them) sitting around talking about Sandy, but not actually any scene that he's in. Soon it becomes clear that eternal runtime was so Sandler could keep packing in the guest stars, abandoning the story to come up with reasons for one more cameo. Then another cameo. Then another. What was this movie about again? And for God's sake, where are the jokes??? There are plenty of attempts at humor, poorly staged by Sandler confidante Steven Brill, but they are utterly devoid of anything close to funny. They exist just to get to the next celebrity highlight, and to be fair, Pauly Shore surrounded by an entire harem of ladies is a definite highlight.
Look, it's totally possible that millions of hours have been spent on Adam Sandler movies, and the rot that has done to our brains is probably incalculable. But Netflix knows that no matter what he does, Sandler will always have an audience and he will cater to them with every ounce of his being. What's sad is that amount of dedication only leads to more Sandy Wexlers in our future. Maybe Sandler should think about making a movie for himself next time. Nah, that's not what Netflix pays him for. The sad thing is, Sandy Wexler is probably the best we can hope for out of this deal.
Rating: 2 out of 5