Please, Please Don't -- Reviewing Netflix's "The Week Of"
Live From The Algorithm is a weekly review series taking a look at the wide variety of Netflix Original Content, from the best to the worst to the outright bizarre.
by Jacob Wallace
We live in a world completely devoid of taste or meaning. That is the only possible reason why Adam Sandler is not only allowed to make movies, but was given a four-movie deal with Netflix, which was re-upped in 2018. That is also the only possible reason I would spend a week struggling to understand how to review Adam Sandler’s “The Week Of.”
New Adam Sandler movies in the Netflix queue are generally treated with the same collective groan as any DCEU movie that’s not Wonder Woman. You know, the ones that are so bad that execs are considering just abandoning an EU altogether. A Superexit, if you will. Even the ones that draw in money are so demoralizingly bad that we now must put our hopes in Harley Quinn, the character your Hot Topic-obsessed friend from high school got a little too into as a 16 year-old.
But wait, that comparison doesn’t work, because Adam Sandler is making bank. One of the craziest things about Netflix that apparently has to be considered is what I’ll call the Bright Effect, wherein even universally panned movies are considered a good business decision because they bring in eyeballs. In the end, that’s what matters for streamers - not necessarily the quality of all their content, but its base attractiveness.
I should say I don’t consider this a disturbing sign that we’re doomed to a future comprised solely of Adam Sandler and Will Smith flops that we hate-watch one after the other as the Earth slowly burns around us - the hate-watch strategy can only work for Netflix because it also invests in enough higher-quality fare to maintain a nuanced reputation as a one-stop content shop. For every The Week Of, there’s supposed to be a Roma, more or less, to cleanse our palates. But we’re here to discuss the first half of that equation, not the latter.
This movie has a plot and it is simple. Kenny Lustig, played by Adam Sandler, wants to pay for his daughter’s wedding because he loves her, even though he’s tight on cash and the groom’s father (Dr. Kirby Cortice, played by Chris Rock) is an unbelievably rich surgeon, like so rich he claims to have enough money to fly his extended family to an island (honestly, I’m not sure anyone writing this knew how much money surgeons actually make.) As the wedding falls apart, Kenny tries to hold it together and reject Dr. Kirby’s money. Hilarity ensues.
This movie is bafflingly underdeveloped. There is shockingly little side-plot for its two-hour run — there are literally scenes where characters just exist in the background repeating the same action in place over and over like NPCs in a cut-scene. Actually, this whole movie feels like a bunch of video game cutscenes spliced together, yet even in that genre I have to say it’s been beat.
This movie also besmirches the good name of one of the most criminally under-utilized SNL alums in the business - Rachel Dratch. She’s here phoning in a completely unnecessary Long Island accent and spends 50 percent of the movie screaming and 50 percent of the movie cleaning the house, which feels like a possible representation of Adam Sandler’s view of women. That’s not the only problematic portrayal - there’s also an unabashedly racist caricature of a south Asian hotel manager who does nothing but nod his head and laugh and a sycophantic young hispanic lover to an older woman. Also, at one point Kenny invites two men off the street because he thinks they’re Dr. Kirby’s cousins and… yeah. Just like, don’t be that way, man.
This movie was at its best when it rose to the level that I assumed had to be knowing self-parody. In one scene, all the characters that have been introduced converge on a little league game with varying amounts of formalwear and new eyeglasses while cheering on a fake World War II veteran and an eleven year old boy who cries at inexplicable times (it’s a long story) and… For a moment, I thought Sandler and director Robert Smigel were in on the joke with us. Then, depressingly, the movie sunk back into its usual gear and the magic was lost.
Look, I get it. Adam Sandler is a recognizable, reliable brand that brings in big international numbers. I’m at the mercy of all the Adam Sandler fans in like, Europe or the Americas that really appreciate his humor and consistently view every film he defecates. I can appreciate Sandler's hustle, but I absolutely cannot bring myself to enjoy it.
Possible Categories: Farce, Family Drama, Sadomasochism