I'm not a fan of Adam Sandler, nor do I dislike his sophomoric attempts at humor. To say the least, I'm impartial to most of his work. I was, however, a fan of his work in P.T. Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love". With this said, I was, to my own surprise, also a fan of "The Wedding Singer", an ode to the 1980's via a story that is often trite, convenient yet still manages to be stubbornly charming. Eight years after its first release in theatres, New Line Cinema brings us "The Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition" which isn't nearly as awesome as the title claims to be.
The film follows Sandler as Robbie Hart, an aspiring musician, who dreams of being a songwriter and is soon to be married. He is a deep romantic, who has been looking forward to his wedding day since the third grade. However, when the big day finally arrives he is left standing at the alter. Robbie wallows in his self-pity through an ill mannered performance at a wedding that he is hired to sing at soon after his break up. All isn't lost, as is the case with every film of this genre; Robbie is befriended by Julia (Drew Barrymore), a young woman working as a server at many of the weddings and catered events that Robbie performs at. Soon after their first meeting, Robbie's break up, and unknown to either of them, they start falling for each other.
The film is written as a matter of convenience, everything has been seen before, countless times in any number of romantic comedies from the days of "It Happened One Night" to "The Apartment" and everything in between and beyond. The film doesn't rate alongside these classics but the formula upon which it is based is there. It's very familiar territory, which, despite its unoriginality, it treads rather well. The chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore is actually quite good. They display a friendly charm that works mostly due to their sincere approach with each other. Although Sandler isn't exactly most people's first choice for a romantic lead, director Frank Coraci is able to rein him in enough to play opposite the sweetly coy Barrymore. The leads bring about a nice sense of warmth to the movie that often comes across in an adorable fashion.
A big part of the film's appeal is the 80's setting. In the pop culture canon the 1980's have always felt like something of a guilty pleasure. Most of the 80's retrospective TV shows sprang on the heels of the success of "The Wedding Singer". Eighties jokes are rampant, from nods to rubick's cube, to Freddy Kruger, the moon walk and so on. There are wall to wall eighties references that often come across forced in the storytelling but the filmmakers clearly have a love for the era and it shows.
However, this "Totally Awesome Edition" actually takes away from the original releases charm. Five minutes of film are added, and while this might not seem like a large amount of material, most of it comes in the form of a scene right smack dab in the middle of the film and halts an otherwise decent flow. The scene involves a not so funny moment between Robbie and the elderly hip hop loving grandma, which is quickly followed by a dialogue between Robbie and Julia. This scene really just stops the movie dead in its tracks. While most of the jokes in the film work on some level, the humor here in this new scene falls flat and to top it all the moment between the two leads feels like it's REALLY beating the audience over the head. There was no reason to include this new cut of the film, because frankly, it actually makes the film less enjoyable.
The film is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are vibrant and rich, highlighting the intense neon colors of the era. The image is fairly crisp and clean, though there does appear to be some light pixilation in spots. Still, the picture is solid all around.
The film is presented in DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, and 2.0 Stereo. The DTS and 5.1 both provide excellent mixes and really enforce the film's virtually wall-to-wall music. The tracks are crisp, clear and free of distortion. The DTS provides a bit more clarity and is a bit stronger when the music kicks in, but the 5.1 works just as well. English and Spanish subtitles are also available.
Being the "Totally Awesome Edition" the extras are rather disappointing. No commentaries, no behind the scenes featurettes or anything of that nature. There is, however, a 10-minute look at the Broadway musical inspired by the film. "A Backstage Look at the Wedding Singer on Broadway" is pretty much a "pat ourselves on the back" promo for the musical and features interviews with the film's screenwriter, the musical's composers/writers, producer and actors. It's interesting but the shameless cross promotion leaves you wanting a little insight into the making of the film.
"The '80s Mix Tapes" lets the viewer jump to any musical scene in the film and provides some background on that particular scene's music.
Trailers for "Wedding Crashers", "Monster-in-Law", "Dumb and Dumber Unrated", "How to Lose Your Lover" and "National Lampoon's Adam & Eve".
If you already own the previous release of "The Wedding Singer" there's no real reason to pick this one up. If anything, the additional footage actually hurts the charm of the original and acts as a reminder that DVD "double dipping" is rarely, if ever, necessary. While I might rate the original DVD at 6.5 or even a 7, I'm rating "The Wedding Singer: Totally Awesome Edition" a 5 because it's a release that really wasn't warranted.