Hollywood can be a peculiar place, where dreams can come to either prosper and or die, and there are many lined-up willing to make a lot of money out of this process. But still, the city of angels can retain this notion that dreams and happy endings are just around the corner. In 2017, Sandler changed gears for his third film for Netflix, offering the notation of a notable talent agent during the 90s, proving all the aforementioned statements true in Sandy Wexler.
In the mid-90s, Sandy Wexler is a passable talent agent, he has a nice house that he doesn’t own. A habit of obnoxiously laughing and clapping his hands, and a penchant for lying. Despite being the self-described King of Hollywood he’s in a rut, trying his best with less than stellar talent. His luck could turn around after meeting Courtney working at a theme park, he senses her potential. Offering to be her manager and her ticket to fame and fortune, all is not smooth sailings as feelings get in the way, can Wexler and Courtney navigate a professional relationship? Or will their hearts be their undoing?
Based on an agent that Sandler knew, Sandy Wexler is at the heart of this film, (hence the title) his mannerisms real or imagined do a lot to make such a unique and interesting character. Most of which are communicated by a recorded Documentary segment, where a who’s who of real Hollywood hotshots recall the career of Wexler. The film’s false retrospective talking head presentation is a good gimmick, trotting out a lot of show-business stars to pretend that they knew during the mid-90s, and recanting his tales. Real celebrities are just part of the story, and there is some fun in seeing some sub-C-list acts that Wexler represents. From an Evel Knievel pastiche to a foul-mouthed puppeteer, watching their less than stellar antics provide ample comedy outside the Wexler character. But the main focus is on the romance between Wexler and Courtney, and it’s not bad.
It hardly feels worth mentioning, but yes, Sandler’s friends do show up, some of them playing themselves in the talking head segments, others portraying Wexler’s clients. The humour feels pretty different, with fewer keys hidden up rectums and more a wider character study of Sandy, and the types you can find in Hollywood. It is a nice change of pace, all things considered, and it is interesting that Sandler is using the four-picture deal to add some variety in his comedy, or at least a chance to work with some new talent. Most notably Jennifer Hudson as Courtney is a good choice, her singing credentials are already known, and she can act, as can be seen in Dream Girls and other films.
This Hollywood romance feels more than the cynical way that term often gets thrown around. Yes, there are pratfalls and scenes of Adam Sandler being chanced by bloodthirsty dogs, but if you stick through it, you will probably end up enjoying the refreshing change of pace. Although it retains a lot of the trappings that fans have come to expect, nay demand, from Sandler’s outputs. It is always great to see J.Hud after seeing her in The Three Stooges, and the myriad of actors, new and old, to the mix. While his qualifications as an agent may be suspect, Sandy Wexler will remain an interesting character.
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