The film draws a comic bead on the chaos that erupts when the families of a soon-to-be-married couple come together a week before the big day — and a series of blunders threatens to turn the fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare
Chris Rock and Adam Sandler on their new big-hearted comedy 'The Week of'
Could Happy Madison Productions and its goofy proprietor Adam Sandler possibly be any happier? While the legions of critics who scoff at his comic stylings are no doubt whittling their skewers for another stab at the “Sandman”, the man himself should be chuffed to the max with his fully-funded creative freedom and his fourth movie for Netflix, which dropped into the global stream last Friday.
While Netflix keeps viewer numbers close to its vest, it has made no bones about the fact that Sandler is its biggest film star. Ever. In 2014, Sandler signed a deal with the streaming colossus to produce and star in four original movies – The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler and his latest, The Week Of. The pairing has proved so successful that Netflix recently agreed that Sandler would do four more.
The Week Of draws a comic tale of the chaos that erupts when the families of a soon-to-be-married couple come together a week before the big day – and a series of blunders threaten to turn the fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare.
It’s all much to the dismay of the bride’s devoted, working-class father (Sandler), a proud man determined to pay the whole shot and not take a nickel from the groom’s filthy-rich dad, played by Chris Rock.
“It’s the actual fun of having families get to know each other and see if they like each other or not, and then eventually clicking – sort of,” says Sandler, 51, the Saturday Night Live alumnus whose movies have grossed more than US$3 billion (Dh11bn) worldwide with box-office hits such as Grown Ups, Big Daddy, The Longest Yard and The Waterboy.
In The Week Of, his big-hearted spin on the classic wedding movie, Sandler heads a cast that includes his friend Rock, 53, a multiple Emmy and Grammy winner who released his critically acclaimed Netflix stand-up special Tamborine in February; their one-time Saturday Night Live colleague Rachel Dratch, 52, fondly remembered for her gloomy “Debbie Downer” character and 30 Rock; and Steve Buscemi, 60, who has made his mark on screens big (Fargo, The Big Lebowski) and small (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire).
The story opens five days before the nuptials of Sarah (Allison Strong) and Tyler (Roland Buck III). For the ceremony, the bride’s budget-constrained contractor dad, Kenny Lustig (Sandler), books the local Quality Lodge, a chain hotel that looks like it hasn’t had a renovation since the 1970s. Ceilings drip, the stinky guest rooms are dank, and the peculiar manager (Nasser Faris) won’t fix a thing.
Dr Kirby Cordice (Rock), the groom’s high-roller Los Angeles heart-surgeon father, offers to move the bash to the swanky Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, but Kenny won’t hear of it. With this impasse, relatives from both sides flood into the Lustigs’ small Long Island home.
Although Sandler has worked for 28 years alongside his constant collaborator Robert Smigel, on projects such as You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Jack and Jill and the animated Hotel Transylvania films, Smigel is making his feature directorial debut here, and he also co-wrote The Week Of script with the actor.
“We bounce ideas around a lot,” says Smigel, who also created and voices puppet character Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. “This is primarily a movie about the dads, and so I thought a little about Planes, Trains and Automobiles and started imagining Adam’s character as a determinedly genial guy – a little like John Candy – who doesn’t want to let the cracks show as things fall apart over the course of the week.”
Comedy legend Jerry Lewis had a theory about what makes people laugh – “funny had better be sad somewhere” – and The Week Of digs for some core, heartfelt emotion amid the pandemonium. Kenny is desperate to do right by his daughter as she readies to leave the nest, while Kirby wants to make it up to his kids for being an absent father.
“I think lots of good comedies have emotional character arcs, and in this case, it was fairly easy because the entire plot was rooted in the essential character flaws of Kenny and Kirby,” Smigel says. “So we didn’t have to ‘find’ the emotional arcs and shoehorn them into the story like some movies do.”
Sandler and Rock also took a moment to heap praise on their co-stars.
“Rachel Dratch is a great wife for many reasons,” Sandler says. “Funny as hell, loveable. Made me look like I’m six-foot-seven, because I think Rachel is about, what, four feet?”
Rock says: “Good lady. She is a funny, funny lady.”
Both men, however, spoke in awe of Buscemi’s acting chops – and knew they had to raise their game whenever he was on set.
“He’s really into the acting part of it,” Rock says. “He’s tough, acting, that Buscemi,” Sandler says. “He reminds you on occasion that he’s a better actor than you. When you’re shooting a scene and you look deep in his eyes and they call ‘Cut!’ – and then he says, ‘I’m a better actor than you’ – that’s when you go, ‘This guy’s trying to say something’.”
The Week Of is available for streaming on Netflix