When an Adam Sandler movie has a runtime of over two hours, it’s a matter of course that it will long overstay its welcome. “Sandy Wexler,” the latest Netflix original film from the former SNL funnyman, runs out of steam very, very quickly. This is the worst kind of comedy: one that’s devoid of laughs.
Sandler plays the titular good hearted yet incompetent talent manager who manages to all but ruin the careers of his clients. The story is set in the 1990s, so get ready for reference jokes about the fashion, music, and entertainment industry during that time (including giant cell phones, the Atkins diet, and Arsenio Hall). He has a rag-tag roster of clients, including a ventriloquist (Kevin James), an unskilled wrestler (Terry Crews), a lousy comedy writer (Colin Quinn), and a stuntman (Nick Swardson). When Sandy signs a theme park singer with stars in her eyes (Jennifer Hudson), he falls in love.
Sandler uses a goofy voice that makes it feel as though he’s doing a subpar impression of Billy Madison and the waterboy. Sandy’s signature laugh is a charming quirk, but there’s no real purpose to speaking in a comedic voice. The long list of random celebrity cameos (set up as a fake roast of Sandy) comes across as more gimmicky than fun, and Hudson truly deserves this year’s Razzie award for the worst acting performance of the year as a Whitney Houston wannabe. Her delivery is so strained and awkward that I could swear she was being forced to read her lines at gunpoint. It’s not a so-bad-it’s-funny performance, it’s just so awful it’s sad.
There’s one major obstacle that the movie can’t overcome, and that’s the fact that it’s simply not entertaining nor very funny. There are a handful of jokes that land and while some of them are quite inspired, most are strained and unfunny. Even the idea isn’t amusing in the least. Thank the film gods for Swardson’s inept daredevil because he’s the only remotely funny aspect of this movie.
As with most of Sandler’s recent work, the story has a sweet and heartfelt tone and ending. It’s not really out of place here, but it also doesn’t exactly feel earned or authentic. In a word, it’s lazy.