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[ed. note: With Adam Sandler's new film Just Go With It hitting theaters this week, we've been locked in a debate over Sandler's best. After some shouting and even a passionate defenses of 50 First Dates, we decided to take the discussion to you guys, with each of us picking a day to present our argument for Sandler's absolute best movie. First up is Sandler's first rom-com, and maybe the first movie to go for all-out 80s nostalgia: 1998's The Wedding Singer.]
By 1998 Adam Sandler had every 12-year-old boy in his back pocket, the one-two punch of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore giving an entire generation permission to abuse lines like "Want to touch the hiney" and a desire to punch Bob Barker. And then, for some reason, he teamed up with Drew Barrymore and decided to go for the girls. The Wedding Singer allowed Sandler to tone down the adolescent range and show the world his shy, awkward smile, and the nation-- or at least a nation of 13-year-old girls like me-- swooned over him for the first and last time.
The 80s references are what we all remember-- plus the rapping granny, which I promise was hilarious at the time-- but The Wedding Singer is really just a genuine and sweet love story, two people let down by their life choices trying to get around all the obstacles and love each other. Sandler and Barrymore made a great central pair, probably because they seemed so unlikely-- he a grown man making millions by acting childish, she a former child star who grew up too fast on the screen and who hadn't headlined a hit since the 80s. They worked that awkwardness to their advantage, making you believe Barrymore as a woman so lonely she'd agree to marry a preening asshole, and Sandler a failed musician so pathetic he'd sleep with his terrible ex just because she showed up at his door.
What makes The Wedding Singer an Adam Sandler movie is that a lot of really silly jokes, plus a song or two, surround this heartfelt relationship. But the romantic elements are what make the movie special, and what made me believe when I was 13 that I could totally have a crush on Adam Sandler. It didn't last long-- his next movie was The Waterboy, and Ben Affleck eventually took his place-- but The Wedding Singer is still the movie I turn to when I want to remember what I expected love to be like when I was 13. Sadly, Billy Idol has yet to show up for me.
Which movie is Adam Sandler's Best?
[Watch for more Adam Sandler's Best Movie arguments coming later this week right here.]