There’s a good and bad to Netflix. It grants creators license to do some wild shit for very niche audiences. But most Netflix movies suffer a made-for-television feel that costs a film’s vitality. Somewhere in the middle, there’s Adam Sandler, benefiting from both.
Or that’s what I assume, anyway. I haven’t seen many of these Netflix films, but I’m going to spend this week checking them out to see if a license to do whatever he wants has helped him create any new secret classics stupid fans like me can use to defend him when the need arises. I’m not including his standup special 100% FRESH because its superiority is not to be argued.
Today’s Entry: THE WEEK OF
Directed By Robert Smigel
Adam Sandler and Smigel wrote this one, but it is nothing like ZOHAN
So here is a stressful Adam Sandler movie about a big family, where many scenes feature a dozen people yelling over each other, that focuses a guy barely keeping his head above water amid a series of crises of his own invention. And it’s not UNCUT GEMS. THE WEEK OF is basically UNCUT GEMS for your grandparents. And why not, everyone deserves an UNCUT GEMS.
Despite this similarity to GEMS, THE WEEK OF feels unique in terms of Adam Sandler projects. It’s hearfelt, but I wouldn’t call it schmalzy. No one is phoning it in here, least of all Sandler. Gross out humor is kept to a minimum, as are cameos from friends. This is really just a nice portrait of two families coming together. While structured around near-constant chaos, it sets up a dozen little stories, paired with a dozen little conclusions sprinkled within the larger story template of a wedding. It can be frustrating and stressful but it also satisfies.
Everyman Sandler, Sad Sandler, or Wild Sandler?
Everyman Sandler. But THE WEEK OF’s Kenny Lustig is not your typical lazy Sandler character in baggy shorts with a beautiful model-level actress wife in a giant house. He’s more on the modest loser side, but without being a total punching bag. He and his wife, played by Rachel Dratch, love each other despite having frequent shouting matches, and more than anything he just wants to make sure everyone is having a good time, no matter how much stress that puts on him. He also sets himself to lose, as a point of pride, so he's not perfect either.
Sandler truly puts on a performance in the film and as the camera whirls around him while he confronts one person’s issue after another in quick succession, it really is remarkable how much this recalls his UNCUT GEMS performance. He even gets a sincere crying scene. There’s room for more broad comedy - he plays his own grandma and puts on a funny voice at one point to imitate Chris Rock - but not much. Instead, he spends most of the movie on the very edge of freaking out.
Sandler Regulars Present
Chris Rock is the co-lead, but that’s about it. Smigel makes another cameo as a doctor and Steve Buscemi has a very funny, sizable role. I did not see Nick Swardson anywhere.
Would It Make It To Theaters?
With the family-friendly story and Chris Rock as a co-star, I feel this would have a chance to play in theaters. It’s definitely the most “real” any of these have felt so far.
Is it funny, or does it just sound funny?
THE WEEK OF does have Adam Sandler-type jokes, particularly involving an older legless relative, but they aren’t the focus. This surprises me considering Robert Smigel not only co-wrote but directed this. Most of the humor is smaller, arriving via character bits from the family. Blink and you’ll miss a lot of them. This is not a failure, as the film wants to be more heartfelt than funny.
Is it too goddamn long?
The two-hour running time is a bit misleading due to a long credit sequence. THE WEEK OF ends up being closer to 110 minutes. It could probably be shorter, but I don’t think it’s too goddamn long when you consider the impressive number of little stories it sets up and concludes. Even with this running time, it’s noteworthy what the film doesn’t spend time on. You’d expect more focus on the bride and groom, not to mention more fighting-bonding scenes between Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, but it’s much more about an ever-shifting collage of chaos, which offers a more unique and interesting approach.
Bad Sandler, Good Sandler, or Great Sandler?
I liked THE WEEK OF a lot. So far, this is the closest to Great Sandler his Netflix movies have come. It’s still not quite at that classic level though. To give you a more specific placement, I'd put it about on par with BIG DADDY, which to you might be Great Sandler.