By: Steve Pulaski
The Week Of is not as bad as The Ridiculous 6, Adam Sandler’s first film for Netflix, but it’s not as enjoyably different as The Do-Over. In fact, it’s the kind of lazy, directionless film that made Netflix the destination for Sandler’s projects until further notice. Studios got tired of shelling out an upwards of $50 – $80 million (!) for each of his films, which looked more like all-expense paid vacations for him and his closest friends. Now, you don’t even have to put on clothes to watch the new Sandler offering nor do you have to feel obligated to pay attention. Film critic Brian Tallerico has coined a term for the comedian’s latest films I can’t even match: “Movies You Can Watch While You Play Games on Your Phone.”
The plot: Adam Sandler is Kenny Lustiger, an amiable father whose intentions are to give his daughter the best, most extravagant wedding possible. In his efforts, he digs himself into a hole of financial debt and favors to the groom’s family. He lets his father-in-law-to-be, Kirby (Chris Rock), and much of Kirby’s family, stay at his place after a terrible hotel mishap, which angers his wife, Debbie (Rachel Dratch), who is constantly at the mercy of him. He struggles to assure everything is perfect despite Kirby and his family’s convictions that the wedding should be small. Nevertheless, Kenny thrusts himself into micromanaging every detail, at one point, outsourcing some small errands to his pal Charles (Steve Buscemi), who returns with oversized bottles of Absolut Vodka and Kahlua. Kenny is also tasked with watching Charles’ elderly relative, Seymour (Jim Barone), who lost his legs to diabetes. For such a crass bit, I’m shocked to say that Seymour provides the biggest laughs in the movie, and it’s largely due to Barone being a good sport the whole way through. Also look out for a cameo by sportscaster Dan Patrick as a little league baseball coach if you’re really in search of the highlight moments.
Less a film and more a gag reel of comic sketches that range from mildly amusing to groan-inducing, The Week Of lives up to its paper-thin concept, making its length feel like a week gone by in real-time. Like many Sandler films, it’s nearly two hours, and this kind of material only gets more winded as it goes along. Without a real direction and no sense of pacing due to a flabby, antics-driven script by Sandler and director Robert Smigel (famous for “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”), tropes surface very quickly, several recurring or familiar jokes dominate the attempts at humor, and the entire film becomes that much more sloppy the more time it wastes.
Such is the case with a concept this open-ended, which one can only assume Sandler and Smigel wanted because it tasks them with the least amount of devotion to plot possible. It allows more time for bachelor party sequences involving strippers and another opportunity for Sandler’s Kenny to show he’s a good father to his youngest daughter (Allison Strong), bonding over things like Billy Joel. It’s sad to note that even the selling point at the center of the film — Sandler and Rock as polar opposite personalities — doesn’t work at all. Making Rock’s Kirby the voice of reason isn’t mining his comic potential and neither is Sandler cycling back and forth between his Brooklyn cadence and the remnants of whatever the hell Sandy Wexler’s voice was supposed to be. The two couldn’t be less amusing; they’re given characters they simply cannot make work with a script that is too rarely funny.
Just before Sandy Wexler was released around this time last year, Sandler had inked another deal with Netflix for four more movies. The Week Of is the last of the original deal, and I can only expect we’ll continue to see the fruits of Sandler’s labor once a year until 2022. Like the yearly Sharknado film, the obligatory rom-com at Christmas, or the next season of Survivor, eventually things don’t become embraced but instead expected — a recipe for a bad case of indifference. You can go ahead and put Sandler’s streaming films on that list as well.