In some ways, you’ve probably seen The Week Of before. Adam Sandler and Chris Rock essentially play themselves in this paint-by-numbers comedy centring on the crucible of a wedding. Sandler plays Kenny, an Everyman with a good heart (if an anarchic life), whilst Rock plays the more suave, successful but emotionally disengaged Kirby. The film’s first punchline is “that’s what she said”, and if that isn’t a cast iron reflection of what to expect over the following two hours, then I don’t know what is.
It’s impulsive comedy in the sense that it latches onto things which have always been ‘funny’, at least to fans of Sandler’s work. His uncle Seymour is missing both of his legs and Sandler can’t ever open the wheelchair, for example. The Manager of the hotel where the wedding is supposed to be held is foreign, barely understandable, and giggles incessantly. Aside from personnel, Sandler’s films have always hinged on the physicality of comedy – not necessarily always in the slapstick sense – and The Week Of is no different. Physical punchlines are teased at explicitly, and the notion of escalation, even to absurd ends, is not shied away from.
The frustrating thing, as ever, is that there is always the creeping feeling that Sandler can do more. Though his sentimental Dad routine in this film tries to edge into genuine emotion, it fails to reach the doleful pathos of films like Funny People, or more recently, The Meyerowitz Stories. Of course, it’s a case of horses for courses. Robert Smigel’s film is concerned with trying to make you laugh at the absurdity of it all, and it would be remiss to suggest it doesn’t allow you to crack a smile sporadically.
This is by-the-numbers comedy which leans on countless films which came before it. However, it’s executed quite well in patches. The constant charade that Seymour is a World War Two Veteran, for instance, does proffer a laugh on more than one occasion. It’s delivered playfully enough, with the two differing families mingling with customary gawkiness. Yet it’s this base competency which makes The Week Of disappointing.