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Film / The Wedding Singer

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Who could say no to a face like this?
Father of the Bride: Hey, buddy, I'm not paying you to hear your thoughts on life. I'm paying you to sing.
Robbie Hart: Well, I have a microphone, and you don't, SO YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERY DAMN WORD I HAVE TO SAY!

A 1998 Romantic Comedy directed by Frank Coraci, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Robbie Hart (Sandler) is the titular wedding singer, who is all set to be married to his girlfriend, Linda. She leaves him at the altar. His friend Julia (Barrymore) tries to cheer him up, and asks him to help her with her wedding. He agrees, and the two begin to fall in love. There is a problem, however: Julia is engaged to Glenn. And did we mention this story is set in 1985, just so they can make a bunch of jokes about CD players, Van Halen, and the like?

It's a cute '90s movie with likable characters and a cute ending. What's not to love?

Received a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation in 2006, with Stephen Lynch in the lead.

Tropes include:

  • The '80s: Set entirely in 1985 and is jam-packed with 1980s pop culture references. That said, some of these references may come across as slightly anachronistic, e.g. a reference to Dallas and the infamous "Who shot J.R.?" plotline, which in 1985 was already four-five years old, and the '88 mix of "Blue Monday" by New Order being played at the disco. Then again, the film is a period piece.
  • '80s Hair: Seen everywhere, and lampshaded with the Flock of Seagulls fan who works as a ticket clerk at the airport.
  • The Ace: George, believe it or not. Manages to be a decent singer, have a very good fashion sense (for The '80s at least), and play three very different instruments (keyboard, clarinet, trombone).
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Holly initially acts insulted when Glenn implies that she's easy, but then she admits that it's true.
    Glenn: Who are you going out with?
    Holly: Robbie.
    Glenn: Oh good; that guy needs to get laid.
    Holly: Excuse me! Just because he's going out with me doesn't mean he's going to get laid.
    [Glenn and Julia stare at Holly]
    Holly: *smiles* ...All right, he probably will.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: George, whose sexuality is not mentioned in the movie, admits that he has never liked girls in the musical.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well: Robbie's actions at Cindy and Scott's wedding were absolutely reprehensible. Even though it was the father who threw the punch and attacked Robbie - and even if Robbie refused payment because of what he did, the father probably still would have had grounds to sue. However that's not that kind of movie, there's No Endor Holocaust here.
  • Alliterative Name: Glenn Gulia
  • Anachronism Stew: Apparently, everything '80s happened in 1985. For instance, JR was shot five years before the film's setting, but it's treated as it just happened here. It's a film using the rule of funny to pop off as many references as it can, so it's OK.
  • Anything That Moves: The cook. He treats Holly well because she showed him her boobs, tries to get Julia to do the same, and is clearly enjoying his dance with Sammy halfway through the film (while grabbing his ass, no less; It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Anti-Love Song: "Love Stinks", which is, believe it or not, a real song, recorded by The J. Geils Band in 1980, and is included on the film's soundtrack. Robbie Hart's later song in the film, a pastiche of The Cure, with half of it written when he was in love with Linda and the other half written when she left him at the altar, also qualifies.
  • As Himself: Billy Idol
  • Basement-Dweller: Robbie doesn't have a place of his own, and lives with his sister and her husband.
  • Bitter Wedding Speech: Twice. Before Linda leaves Robbie, the best man at one of the weddings he performs at gives one; Robbie does his best to smooth it over. After Linda leaves Robbie, he gives one himself at another performance.
  • Blackmail: Robbie gets Sammy to pay for a first-class ticket to Las Vegas by threatening to tell everyone what Sammy said at the bar the night before.
  • Brick Joke: The drunk best man played by Steve Buscemi shows up right at the end... as a wedding singer. At Robbie and Julia's wedding no less.
  • Brutal Honesty: Robbie's one nephew who both calls Linda a bitch and says he himself is headed for a nervous breakdown and is going to wind up in a mental institution. This said, it is suggested that he is merely innocently parroting opinions that he has overheard his parents express about Robbie and Linda's relationship behind his back.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: After Robbie gets knocked out by Glenn outside the bar, he drunkenly goes home where Linda tries to get together with him again when he sobers up the next morning. When Robbie tells her he's over her and doesn't want to see her ever again, Linda non-nonchalantly asks if he's "still pissed about the wedding thing". Robbie promptly kicks her out of the house and she scampers away embarrassed.
  • Call-Back: As Robbie starts to get over Linda, Robbie tells Julia that there were subtle hints that they were not meant to be, and mentions the time they went to the Grand Canyon. Since Robbie had never been, but Linda had, he asked if he could have the window seat so he could see it as they arrived, but Linda convinced him to let her keep the window seat. When Julia and Glenn fly to Las Vegas to elope, Julia remembers the conversation with Robbie and asks Glenn if she can have the window seat so she can see the strip on the way over, but he says he needs the window seat because the service carts always hit him on the elbow, but she can lean on him as they approach.
  • The Cameo: Billy Idol helps Robbie tell Julia his true feelings on the plane. Then he offers him a record deal.
  • The Casanova: Sammy admits in the opening act that he wants to be like Fonzie. Glenn is also one of these, and doesn't plan to stop even after he gets married. Later, however, Sammy admits to Robbie that he's not at all happy with his lifestyle. "Nobody wants to see an old guy hitting on chicks."
  • Creepy Monotone: Robbie sounds like this when he's drunk or depressed.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The old guy at the bar.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Robbie, a wedding singer who celebrates people getting married, gets left at the altar at the beginning of the movie. Naturally, this leads to the Creator Breakdown mentioned below.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Robbie gets on the same plane to Vegas as Glenn and Julia. And Billy Idol is in first class with him.
  • Cool Car: Glen drives a DeLorean.
  • Cool Old Lady: Rosie. She gives relationship/sex advice (and was sexually active in her youth, which she isn't the least bit ashamed of), she still works out despite her old age, and she sings "Rapper's Delight" in front of an audience.
  • Creator Breakdown: Parodied (and expertly summarized) in-universe. Robbie's breakdown occurred while he was writing a love song for the woman who would later leave him at the altar; the lyrics and style of that song start with fluffy romance, switch suddenly to extreme rage, dissolve into shocked sadness, and finally end with wangsty lyrics outright begging:
  • Deadpan Snarker: Robbie alternates between this and Large Ham.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: The Casanova archetype; On one hand you end up like Sammy, who is secretly very lonely and depressed despite getting to sleep around with chicks, because he knows that one day, he's going to get too old to keep up that lifestyle and will end up alone if he keeps at it. On the other hand, you can end up like Glenn, a self absorbed jerk-off who is unable to commit himself to his relationship with Julia because he enjoys sleeping around too much and plans on continuing even after he gets married.
  • Despair Speech: Robbie gets a despair song.
  • Diegetic Musical: As the title suggests, Robbie is a wedding singer and performs most of the songs in his professional capacity. The one major song he sings while not working is when he sings to Julia on the airplane, accompanying himself on the guitar.
  • Disposable Fiancé: The "evil all along" variation. Robbie was this to his fiance, Linda. but since he's the central character, her decision to leave him is portrayed as shallow and mean. Even so, Linda is less cartoonishly evil than Glenn, who is depicted as a being violent, lecherous liar.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: A pretty egregious example in a mainstream comedy; the clerk at the airport has a Flock of Seagulls haircut, which is a pretty good visual gag. Then he says to Robbie (apt of nothing): "Do you guys like Flock of Seagulls?"
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: After their date, Holly straight-up tells Robbie "If you come upstairs, you're gonna get laid."
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When Robby believes that he's lost Julia forever, he goes to a bar and gets drunk.
  • Dumb Blonde: Holly, from both the movie and musical versions, is both slutty and slightly dim. However in the original movie, Julia herself was intelligent with blonde hair in contrast to Robbie's stupid brunette ex, Linda. The musical reverses Julia's and Linda's hair colors, with Julia a Brainy Brunette/Girl Next Door type and Linda an even bigger Dumb Blonde than Holly.
  • Ethical Slut: By her own admission, Holly is promiscuous. But she really cares about her cousin, and during the film's climax she even helps Robbie catch up to Julia before she marries Glenn.
  • Extreme Doormat: Robbie is implied to be this. A good example being that not only does he allow an old woman who he's teaching piano lessons to pay him in meatballs, but he even allows her to place them in his hand.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Julia's mother suggests she try this to get Glenn to set the wedding date. Julia is somewhat horrified.
  • Final Love Duet: The Musical has three for Robbie and Julia. "If I Told You", "If I Told You (Reprise)", and the final final duet, "Grow Old With You" (which, by the way, is now a duet).
  • Get Out!: At the bank, when the manager is left unimpressed with Robbie's interview, that was basically him saying "please give me a 'real job' because I don't want people to think I'm a loser," he firmly, yet politely, tells Robbie "please get out of the bank." When Robbie tries to pathetically negotiate a business card for some free music lessons, the manager silently, and sternly points him towards the main door, causing Robbie to leave in defeat.
  • Gold Digger: Robbie accuses Julia of this. Following his failed interview at the bank, a disappointed Robbie ignores Julia's attempt at consoling him by telling him he's a good music teacher and doesn't need "real job" to prove anything to anyone. He then accuses Julia of marrying Glenn only because he's a wealthy investment baker, which causes her to angrily storm off and throw his present, personalized music sheets, onto the ground.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: When Julia witnesses Holly acting flirty and affectionate towards Robbie during their double date, the already-intoxicated Julia is so jealous it makes her feel physically ill and she leaves to go throw up in the restroom.
  • Heel Realization: Robby has one after he drives Julia away by implying that she's only marrying Glenn because he's rich.
    Robbie: I am an asshole!
  • Heroic BSoD: Robbie goes through a major one after Linda jilts him on their wedding day and formally dumps him when she goes to his house that evening and tells him she doesn't want to be married to a broke wedding singer. It takes him hanging out with Julia in the months leading up to her wedding that he finally gets over Linda, and falls in love with Julia.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: The film implies that Sammy and Holly will become an item.
  • In Love with Love: Applies somewhat to Robbie, who has dreamed of falling in love and getting married since he was little. Linda used it as part of her excuse to not show up to the wedding.
  • Innocent Swearing: "You're a bitch!"
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Robbie can't bring himself to tell Julia how he feels when he sees how happy she looks in her window (despite it not being for the reason he thinks).
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • Combined with Analogy Backfire in hindsight: Sammy talks about being miserable because he never settled down, saying that he modeled his antics after Vinnie Barbarino (played by John Travolta) and how "[Travolta's] show got cancelled!" because "No one wants to see a fifty-year-old guy hitting on chicks". Travolta, of course, ended up having a big comeback with Pulp Fiction and became a sex symbol again.note 
    • During Glenn's song "It's All About The Green" in the musical, he shoots down investing in Starbucks because "nobody's going to pay eight bucks for a cup of coffee," then orders one of his clerks to buy all of the Betamax (or New Coke in some performances) stock he can get his hands on.
    • Holly's frustrated opinion of the Rubik's Cube.
  • Jerkass:
    "He's losing his mind...and I'm reaping all the benefits!"
    • Linda, the woman who left Robbie at the altar.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Subverted with Linda. At first, it seems like Linda did have valid reasons for not marrying Robbie, such as how he has very little money, his singing career never really took off, and she wanted to have children, which would've been impractical given Robbie's financial situation. However, Julia acknowledges the exact problems Linda cited but willingly helps Robbie overcome them. And, as Robbie points out, Linda could have brought her concerns up the day before the wedding, rather than completely humiliating him at the altar. Making it even worse is the fact that Robbie does have financial troubles and all the money for the wedding just got wasted. As Robbie spends more time with Julia, he becomes rightly convinced that Linda is a shallow Gold Digger, culminating in him callously kicking her out of his sister's house after she tries to get back together with him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sammy.
  • Kavorka Man: Robbie is no great looker, with a loser job and a Hair-Trigger Temper, but he manages to reel in one gorgeous woman after another. It helps that he's a nice guy looking for a good relationship.
  • Love Epiphany: This happens to both Robbie and Julia. With Robbie, it's not entirely clear as to when it happens. However, Julia's is more clear; it happens when her cousin Holly asks why she wants to marry Glenn anyway, at which she collapses on the table - realizing she actually loves Robbie.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Inverted. After their date, Holly flat-out tells Robbie that she's willing and eager to have sex with him. He turns her down because he's in love with Julia.
  • Meaningful Echo: After Robbie returns home following his failed interview at the bank, Julia tries to cheer him up by telling him he's a good music teacher, but Robbie responds that he wants to get a real job so he can buy his own house and move out of his sister's basement, echoing what Linda told him when she explained why she left at the altar.
  • Meaningful Name: Our main characters are named Robbie and Julia. Additionally, Robbie's last name is Hart.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: How the film opens.
  • Mood Whiplash: For comedic purposes. An emotive song about everlasting love is followed by... The Rapping Grandma!
  • My Parents Are Dead: Robbie.
  • The Musical
  • Musical World Hypotheses: Diegetic type. The titular wedding singer performs the musical numbers for the characters In-Universe.
  • Never My Fault: Linda exhibits shades of this when she explains why she wants to dump Robbie. "I just woke up and realized I was going to marry a wedding singer." though Robbie's job and financial state was not a secret and she never let on that she had a problem with it when she agreed to marry him. And as Robbie stated, she could've told him all this before the wedding.
  • Nice Guy: Robbie is definitely this without question. He sings at weddings for low pay just to see the smiles on everyone's faces, he gives an elderly lady voice lessons while accepting meatballs as payment, and he selflessly agrees to help Julia plan her wedding before he falls for her.
  • Noodle Incident: The best man at the wedding shown at the beginning mentions him and his brother the groom picking up two women he figured had to be prostitutes but claims he wasn't the one paying, implying his brother paid. This isn't elaborated on since it's a one-off scene meant to start a fight between him and his brother, though for some reason the best man shows up as a wedding singer at Robbie and Julia’s wedding. It's probable that the way Robbie defused the situation inspired the best man to get his act together, given he was a pretty good self-taught guitarist (according to his speech at the start).
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: A visual example. Robbie looks at Julia through her window and sees her smiling in her wedding dress, and he decides to walk away. He doesn't know that she was talking to herself about the idea of being married to him rather than Glenn.
  • Period Piece: A rather unusual one. There's really no reason why this story had to be set in 1985, thirteen years before the film's release, except that it gives a ton of great joke opportunities.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Averted for The Rappin' Granny, who, at her 50th wedding anniversary, belts out "Rapper's Delight" flawlessly.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Linda had been thinking, and talking to her friends about not going through with the wedding for several days, but still did not do anything about it until not showing up. Lampshaded by Robbie:
    Linda: Oh, yeah! Living in your sister's basement with five kids while you're off every weekend doing wedding gigs at a whoppin' sixty bucks a pop?
    Robbie: Once again, things that could've been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!
  • Popular History
  • Practice Kiss: Robbie and Julia practice how Julia should kiss her soon-to-be husband, with the appropriate amount of "church tongue". Needless to say, the kiss is extremely passionate.
  • Precision F-Strike: "I hope you fucking choke!"
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: After Robbie and Sammy leave the bar and get into a physical altercation with Glenn and his friends, their other friend, a little old man, tries to punch one of them as a defense, only to barely make an impact and he apologizes to the two, pointing out how he used to be stronger.
  • Race for Your Love: The film climaxes with Robby chasing Julia through an airport in order to stop her from marrying Glenn.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Robbie getting stood up, which leads him to smashing up a mirror in private after pretending to keep his cool when learning his situation.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Holly, by her own admission after Glenn makes an off-handed remark, gets stared at when claiming that it's untrue, and then simply admits that it is true. "If you come upstairs, you're gonna get laid" leaves little to the imagination.
    • Glenn constantly cheats on Julia with younger women.
    • The sweet old lady that Robbie is giving music lessons to mentions that she had sex with several men before she met her husband. Robbie is rather disturbed by the revelation.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Linda's explanation to Robbie for why she left him at the altar:
    Robbie: Hey, you're late.
    Linda: I'm sorry. I just couldn't do it.
    Robbie: Well, if you need some more time, I guess I can wait.
    Linda: No, I don't need more time, Robbie. I don't ever wanna marry you.
    Robbie: Jeez, you know, that information might have been a little more useful to me yesterday.
    Linda: I've been talkin' to my friends the last couple days.
    Robbie: Oh, here it comes.
    Linda: And I think I figured out what's been bothering me. I'm not in love with Robbie now. I'm in love with Robbie six years ago. Robbie, the lead singer of Final Warning. When I used to come and watch you from the front row in your spandex pants, your silk shirt unbuttoned, lickin' the microphone like David Lee Roth.
    Robbie: I still got the spandex. I'll put 'em on right now.
    Linda: The point is, I woke up this morning and I realized I'm about to marry a wedding singer. I'm never gonna' leave Ridgefield.
    Robbie: Why do you need to leave Ridgefield? We grew up here. All our friends are here. It's the perfect place to raise a family.
    Linda: Oh, yeah? Livin' in your sister's basement with five kids while you're off every weekend doing wedding gigs at a whopping sixty bucks a pop!?
    Robbie: Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!!
    Linda: The fact is, we grew apart a long time ago. You just wanted to get married so badly, you didn't care who.
    Robbie: That's not true. I love you. Come here. I wanna spend the rest of my life with you.
    Petey: Hey, Linda! You're a bitch.
    Robbie: Thanks, Petey. Go back in the house. He, he, he might have Tourette's Syndrome. We're looking into it.
    Linda: I gotta go. I'm sorry.
  • Rhyming Names: Subverted/defied. Julia imagines herself marrying Glenn, becoming Mrs. Julia Gulia (pronounced Goo-lia), and promptly bursts into tears. She breaks up with Glenn and ends up marrying Robbie Hart.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Glenn vs Robbie.
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Runaway Bride: A rare unsympathetic view. Linda leaving Robbie at the altar makes her look like a shallow, self-centered bitch while Robbie is left heartbroken and humiliated. Her claims that Robbie was more in love with the idea of being in love would probably cast her in a more sympathetic light if Robbie wasn't such a Nice Guy.
  • Running Gag: George singing "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" whenever left alone on stage.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The film was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2006.
  • Second Love: Robbie and Julia are this to each other, especially since Julia helped him recover from getting dumped by Linda, who Robbie believed to the love of his life, and because of the time they spent together in the months leading to her wedding with Glenn, who was more focused on cheating on her while she was distracted with planning the wedding.
  • Shout-Out: This movie includes a boatload of references to 1980s pop culture. A few include:
    • In one scene, Glenn is dressed similarly to Don Johnson from Miami Vice. When he pulls up in his DeLorean, the theme for Miami Vice can be heard as well. There's also a Shout-Out in the fact that he drives a DeLorean.
    • At the bar, Sammy wears a red leather jacket exactly like the one Michael Jackson wore in the music video for "Thriller."
    • The clerk at the airport has A Flock of Seagulls-style haircut (which is immediately pointed out).
    • George is an impersonator of Boy George from Culture Club.
  • Smug Snake: Glenn.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Robbie figures out that Glenn and Julia are on the same plane because one of the flight attendants said that a coach passenger told her she was "grade-A, top-choice meat." Glenn had said the same thing about a waitress halfway through the movie.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Linda breaks up with Robbie because he's in a dead end job, he doesn't have his own place, and she's not in love with Robbie anymore. It's more of a Jerkass Has a Point scene (since, as Robbie himself notes, that is all information that could have been raised with him before it became necessary to jilt him at the altar), but anyone would not get married realizing how difficult their life would be due to those circumstances.
    • Linda attempts to reunite with Robbie, but it fails. Why? Well, she jilted him at the altar, cruelly gave him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech instead of just saying the marriage won't work (or even suggesting they simply postpone the marriage to get their finances in check, rather than break up altogether), she took Robbie's shirt and went into his home while he was drunk, making Robbie think she's a psycho, and she's still an insensitive bitch, who's not really sorry for how she treated him.
    • Sammy's lifestyle as The Casanova comes in for some of this when he admits that he's lonely, miserable, and getting increasingly older, and no one wants to see an old man hit on girls much younger than him.
    • After Robbie thinks he lost his chance with Julia, he buys a bottle of booze from a liquor store; the bar owner tells him, sternly, but kindly, that he can't drink outside liquor inside the bar.
    • When Robbie, Sammy, and the old guy they befriended leave the bar, they run into Glenn and his buddy hanging out with some chicks, leading Robbie to call him out on cheating on Julia and attempt to fight him when Glenn mocks him. However, the old guy tries defending Robbie, but can't because he's so old and Robbie's too drunk to fight properly, leading him to get decked out in one punch.
    • In an impulsive attempt to win over Julia, Robbie tries to get a job in a bank, but is rejected because he has no further education past high school or any experience with banking, and all he really had going for him was to say, basically, "I'm poor, but I want you to hire me". The interviewer is still unmoved when Robbie offers him singing lessons and asks him if he could at least have some business cards with his name on it.
  • Take That!: Robbie saying: "Get out of my Van Halen T-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up." It's also a Call-Back of sorts to the scene in Airheads when the Lone Rangers try to determine if someone is a policeman by asking who he sided with in the Van Halen vs. David Lee Roth split. The guy says "Van Halen," and they say, "He's a cop". note 
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Released in 1998, takes place in 1985.
  • The Unfavorite: Steve Buscemi's drunken best man says he's this in his Bitter Wedding Speech at his younger brother's reception and it would make sense.
    Groom's father: You're a moron!
  • Unknowingly in Love: It takes most of the film for coworkers Robbie and Julia to realize there's more between them than a really good friendship. It doesn't help that he's recently had his heart broken and she's engaged to marry someone else, but it's funny to watch everyone around them slowly cotton on to the fact that they're in love. When they do figure it out, Robbie's ex-fiancée Linda almost ruins everything by preventing Julia's Love Confession, but fortunately they're helped out by their friends, some airline personnel, and Billy Idol.
  • The Voiceless: George's only spoken lines are when he's singing song lyrics. He also audibly cries when Linda ditches Robbie at the altar, so technically his role is not a speaking role.
  • Wedding Deadline: Played straight in the musical, but averted in the film; the breakup happens on the plane to Las Vegas.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Some may wonder this about Julia, a nice, sweet girl, being involved with a loutish boor like Glenn. And this is before we find out he's a liar and a cheat.