Courtesy Photo
Opened: Friday, February 13, 1998
Rated: PG-13

Directed by Frank Coraci

Starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Chistine Taylor, Alexis Arquette, Allen Covert & Angela Featherstone.

Cameos: Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz, Billy Idol & Kevin Nealon.

"The Wedding Singer"

If many of your fondest memories involve rubber bracelets, Aqua Net hair spray and leopard print skinny ties, the 1980s in-jokes should be enough to keep you snickering for about an hour of "The Wedding Singer," a comedy whose best laughs come from the fact that it's set in 1985.

But when the movie finally has to hunker down and focus on the plot -- a familiar boy- meets- girl- who's- about- to- marry- a- jerk tale -- it becomes clear that the '80s elements were merely a gimmick to mask a weak story and rather cardboard characters.

Getting off to a promising start, "The Wedding Singer" opens with "Saturday Night Live" alum Adam Sandler bellowing a warped rendition of the new wave anthem "You Spin Me Around (Like a Record)."

Sandler plays wedding reception songster Robbie Hart, and anyone who has heard Sandler sing knows this is hilarious without even seeing the movie.

Robbie's in the dumps because he's just been left at the altar by a bimbo with back-combed hair and a "Flashdance" wardrobe. But a sweet new waitress at the reception hall, Julia (Drew Barrymore), befriends him and lifts his spirits a little.

She's the kind of girl who flirts without realizing it, and in a matter of days poor Robbie is in love on the rebound.

But of course, Julia is engaged to a "Miami Vice" clone who drives a DeLorean, and Robbie is regulated to "friend" status and suckered in to helping plan her nuptials while hoping to fly in under the radar and capture her heart.

The sight gags and Reagan-era flashbacks carry the first half of the movie, and some of them are so funny that the next 60 seconds of dialogue are lost in laughter.

Patrick Nagel prints hang on nightclub walls. Guys walk around in shirts with every panel a different color. And it's hard not to laugh at Robbie's back-up singer (Alexis Arquette), a Boy George-clone, and Julia's sister (Christine Taylor), a trampy Madonna wannabe.

Even the relentless early-MTV soundtrack (there are 38 songs throughout) is occasionally timed to induce some giggles.

But when rookie director (and Sandler college chum) Frank Coraci turns the focus to the destiny couple of Robbie and Julia, it's hard to overcome the fact that they're both uninteresting, shallow and very poor judges of character.

Julia is about to marry a selfish, philandering, one-dimensional guy whose life revolves around money, yet we're supposed to rally behind her in her romantic dilemma. Robbie, all too easily convinced that cash is what it will take to woo Julia, goes out to find a "real job" instead of writing her off as not being worth the trouble.

Despite fun-loving efforts by Sandler and Barrymore, this all becomes quite tedious and before long the movie begins to drag terribly. The plot jerks ahead, predicated on lame twists like Julia's sister encouraging her to practice the wedding kiss on Robbie -- which, of course, serves as a feeble epiphany for both of them.

All the movie's tender moments ring false, especially since Sandler always looks like he's on the verge of cracking up, and ultimately the movie has less flavor than a supermarket wedding cake.

Written by "SNL" head writer Tim Herlihy (who also penned Sandler's last two movies), "The Wedding Singer" has its moments -- especially a cameo by Steve Buscemi as a pickled, bitter best man and a song Robbie wrote half before his break-up and half afterwards. But those moments just don't add up to the price of admission.

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