Adam Sandler stars as a doting, neurotic Jewish father preparing for the upcoming wedding of his daughter in The Week Of, the latest Netflix-contracted Happy Madison production that is now streaming worldwide.
A more grounded, toned-down outing than almost any other film previously produced under the star’s brand, The Week Of represents a nice change of pace from the usual Sandler movie. And it might be his best Netflix production to date, which isn’t exactly high praise given the previous three (Sandy Wexler, The Do-Over, and The Ridiculous Six).
In The Week Of, Sandler stars as Kenny Lustig, a loving Long Island father who is about marry off his eldest daughter Sarah (Allison Strong) at the end of the titular week – and, taking care of all the wedding planning himself, has plenty of work ahead of him.
Only problem: Sandler’s father-of-the-bride needs to cut costs at every corner, resulting in a ceremony at the local motel emceed by a magician, deejayed by an apathetic 12-year-old nephew, and catered with six-foot liquor bottles sourced from the Duty Free shop at the airport.
If only Kenny would let father-of-the-groom Kirby Cordice (Chris Rock), a wealthy L.A. heart surgeon, pitch in financially to help things run smoothly. But the wedding represents the final thing that Kenny will do for his daughter, and he wants to do it all by himself.
Sandler’s good-guy dad, part Fyvush Finkel and part Chevy Chase, represents a nice change of pace for the actor, especially after the gratingly over-the-top Sandy Wexler, and it’s great to see Sandler in a sympathetic role that actually deserves the sympathy. Kenny is genuinely trying to do the right thing by his daughter and newfound extended family throughout the movie, and the lack of selfishness is refreshing.
Surprisingly inoffensive for an Adam Sandler comedy, and even not-unpleasant to watch, The Week Of nevertheless fails to create anything resembling a compelling narrative: we’ve got the setup and a series of wedding-preparation vignettes to carry the film, and little more.
The movie is also bereft of drama: even as the wedding party goes up in flames, everyone is happy with Kenny’s noble attempt; Rock’s competing father, who should at least be putting up a fight, just seems happy to survive the week.
And while The Week Of mercifully jettisons Happy Madison’s usual point-and-laugh brand of comedy, there’s little in the way of laughs to replace it; a traumatic Little League game and an extended stolen valor subplot featuring uncle Seymour (Jim Barone), however, result in at least some minor chuckles.
Rachel Dratch and Steve Buscemi co-star as Kenny’s wife and cousin, respectively, but neither performer gets the kind of material that would make use of their comic talent.
The Week Of marks the feature directorial debut of longtime Sandler collaborator Robert Smigel, best known for his TV Funhouse animated shorts on Saturday Night Live and as the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. But there’s nothing here that would conjure even a memory of the biting comedy in those endeavors.
While expectedly reviled by critics, Happy Madison’s Netflix films have (seemingly) proven successful on the streaming platform: booked an additional four features to follow this latest production.
If there’s a market for these things, I’m not sure what they’ll make of The Week Of, which rests uneasily somewhere between the over-the-top comedy of Sandler’s previous features and his understated work for director Noah Baumbach in The Meyerwitcz Diaries.