By Breanna Whipple
CALGARY – We’ve all witnessed them – the boisterously exaggerated curls modelled by both the beautiful bride and smiling groom, the obnoxious gown held firmly above and beyond any fairytale princess ever known, the tuxedo constructed from only the finest neons and postmodern patterns. Whether it be through the technicolor TV set broadcasted by ancient family video tapes, or our own experience making that faithful trek down the glittering aisle, a wedding in the 1980s was truly unlike no other. A decade fused by a universal appreciation for heavily hair-sprayed mullets, vivacious party tunes, and literally breathtakingly tight spandex, the 1998 release of The Wedding Singer reminded us of what we had lost, and put upon a cinematic pedestal.
Current fans of popular culture are undoubtedly aware of the ’80s revival, the highest grossing horror film to date, It (2017), being a perfect example. This, however, is nothing new. With a mere nine years since the decade concluded, a homage was already welcomed with The Wedding Singer. Littered throughout its 95 minute runtime are countless references to the film and music of the 1980s, making it a nostalgic viewing experience for fans of the raddest era. One of the many wonderful examples of this would be the recently passed Alexis Arquette’s performance as George, who lives on screen twinning Culture Club’s own iconic frontman, Boy George, with ease. Not to spoil the fun for those of you who have somehow managed to make it this far in life without viewing this cult-classic at least once, but Arquette may or may not perform the sappy Culture Club classic “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”, and it may or may not become your go-to jukebox track from here on out.
Indubitably dubbed a romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer flawlessly delivers both parts in equal amount. Immediately following the release of both monumental laugh fests, Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996), The Wedding Singer was released in the peak of Adam Sandler’s career. The aforementioned comedies are undoubtedly one of the few staples of the inferior 1990s worth mentioning, which provides a slight sense of ‘tongue-in-cheek’ given the retro content. Admirable and unfortunately widely under-appreciated is how thorough of a script was provided for such a light-hearted film, exemplified with a scene in which Robbie (Adam Sandler) says to his newly ex-girlfriend, “Now please, get out of my Van Halen shirt before you jinx the band and they break up.” With the story taking place in the year 1985, this coincides with the exact time that David Lee Roth left the band.
All comedy and rocker history aside, the core of The Wedding Singer is entirely a love story – and a very important one at that. It battles with the idea of settling for the convenient root in life, which can be applied to all facets outside of relationships as well. Dealing with the all too real notion of self-doubt, and feeling stuck, the film provides a look at the possibilities that could be granted to all of us willing to take risks. Though it may seem a little strange to mention this along side scenes displaying Steve Buscemi portraying an obnoxiously inebriated wedding guest, The Wedding Singer serves as a reminder of how we carry the reigns and control our own happiness. Cliche, especially given a film released in the ’90s taking place in the ’80s, the saying rings true – they just don’t make them like they used to.
Catch The Fifth Reel’s presentation of The Wedding Singer Nov. 17 at Dickens Pub.Dickens Pub, Retro, Rom-Com, The Fifth Reel, The Wedding Singer