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Happy 25th Anniversary, “The Wedding Singer!”

Twenty-five years ago today, “The Wedding Singer” was released in theaters. It’s hard not to love this movie, one of the kinder, sweeter entries in the rom-com canon. This film has a couple of things that place it on a higher shelf: two genuinely decent characters to root for, a ton of ‘80s nostalgia, and an unquestionably great sense of chemistry between the two actors playing the leads.

The film, written by Tim Herlihy, firmly set in Ridgefield, New Jersey in 1985, stars Adam Sandler as an easygoing guy who loves two things: music and family. He pays the bills while performing at weddings (bar mitzvahs as well), enjoying the joy he brings to other family units at these events. His world is thrown asunder when his he is stood up on his own wedding day – his ex-fiancee, Linda, apologizes later, saying that she loved the ambitious rock star he wanted to be rather than the complacent small-town wedding singer he has become. (One famous line: “Information that would have been useful yesterday!”)

Robbie beings a downward spiral that only stops when he befriends waitress Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore, never more beguiling). The two form a fast friendship over their shared interest in the little things in life, We know they belong together, of course, but there’s one thing standing in their way: Julia’s engagement to Glenn Gulia (Matthew Glave), the crass, shallow, and philandering man in her life.

We know that Julia can’t marry Glenn, if for no other reason than she can’t become Julia Gulia. But the fun of The Wedding Singer is watching each of them figure it out, set to a backdrop of pop hits like “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “Every Day I Write the Book,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Love My Way,” “You Make my Dreams,” and “White Wedding.” Released in the late 1990s, The Wedding Singer hit that sweet spot when grunge had fallen out of favor and given way to ‘80s nostalgia. The clothes, the gadgets, the music, the television shows – all of these references were finally becoming back in favor, and the movie celebrated them all shamelessly.

And while the film is silly fun, it also marked new signs of maturity for both Barrymore and Sandler, both playing their first romantic leads as they carried the film. They’re sensational together, playful and even slyly sexy. No wonder they worked together twice more, in 50 First Dates and Blended.

A couple of other fun facts:

  • Ellen Albertini Dow’s performance of Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” was an instant hit in a pre-viral era.
  • Boy George has said that Alexis Arquette’s rendition of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” was hilarious.
  • Billy Idol has a cameo towards the end of the film
  • Several Friends guests stars have roles in The Wedding Singer: Christina Pickles (whose Emmy-nominated work in Elsewhere also gives her ‘80s cred), Christine Taylor, and Angela Featherstone, who was the Ross’s one night stand while he and Rachel were “on a break.”

Of course, this film itself is now a relic to another, seemingly simpler time. It’s worth the revisit. This is a film you want to grow old with you.