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Sat10202018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Adam Sandler’s third movie with Netflix is the very definition of overindulgence. There’s a decent movie in here from director Steven Brill, who worked with Sandler previously on Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and The Do-Over—but Sandy Wexler is a mess obscured by too many subplots.

Sandler stars as the title character, a talent manager trying to find new clients in the 1990s. After working with low-level comedians and daredevils, Sandy finds Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), an amusement-park performer with a stunning voice. Sandy takes charge of her career, and sends her on a superstar trajectory. Of course, Sandler creates one of his weirdo characterizations, with a goofy voice and strange mannerisms.

While some of the 1990s jokes involving Fruitopia, Arsenio Hall and the Atkins Diet are funny, Sandler and Brill take the movie off into a strange, unlikely romance realm that destroys all of the fun.

The movie is supremely overstuffed at 130 minutes, with one subplot too many involving Terry Crews as a flamboyant wrestler. His entire arc could’ve been left on the cutting-room floor.

Kevin James has a fairly funny supporting role as a ventriloquist who carries on regular conversations through his dummies, and Nick Swardson scores some laughs as a daredevil reminiscent of Super Dave Osborne and Evil Knievel. Hudson is good in her role, even when the character inexplicably falls for Sandy.

At 90 minutes and without the love story, this one might’ve been decent. As it stands, it’s another miss for Sandler.

Sandy Wexler is currently streaming on Netflix.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

The biggest month for music in the Coachella Valley is here, thanks to Coachella and Stagecoach—and even if you’re not going to either of the fests, there are still plenty of other things to do.

The McCallum Theatre has a variety of shows in April, the last big month in the theater’s 2016-2017 season. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 6, the daughter of Lucy and Desi, Lucie Arnaz will be performing her favorites from the Great American Songbook, backed by the Desert Symphony. Tickets are $67 to $115. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 7, get ready to laugh with Rita Rudner. Rudner is a legendary comedienne and will have you in stitches. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22, actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth will perform songs from Glee, Wicked and various Broadway standards. Tickets are $57 to $97. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great April schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 7, Kenny Loggins will be performing. Loggins has had quite a career, including “Danger Zone” from Top Gun (and, more recently, Archer), “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack, the main song for the Footloose soundtrack—and a lot of hits that weren’t in movies. Alas, when I interviewed Loggins at Stagecoach in 2013, he was more interested in the M&Ms he was eating off of a napkin than my questions. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be returning to the desert. The PR rep told me the group has a new singer, Dan McGuinness, who had subbed at various times for former vocalist John Tristao. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 21, David Crosby will be stopping by for a solo performance. On top of his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash, he was a member of The Byrds, and he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with both bands. Tickets are $39 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting several sold-out shows in April, but as of our press deadline, there was still one show with tickets left: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, actor and comedian Kevin James will be appearing. James had a successful run on the show The King of Queens, and achieved some degree of movie fame by playing Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It seems in recent years that he’s been in too many bad projects produced by Adam Sandler. It should be interesting to see how his stand-up comedy will be after years of sitcoms and films. Tickets are $65 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 casino has a couple of events to consider. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, ’80s/’90s R&B sensation Keith Sweat (upper right) will be performing. Some of the best R&B music of that era was written and performed by Sweat; he’s released 12 albums and won the Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist Award at the 1997 American Music Awards. Tickets are $25 to $45. I can’t believe I am about to write this sentence: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 29, Extreme Midget Wrestling will be returning to Spotlight 29. I honestly don’t know what to say here. Like anyone else, people with dwarfism are doctors, scientists, actors and actresses—yet people often first think of crap like this when it comes to dwarfism. Also, most people with dwarfism prefer the term “little people.” Whatever entertainment floats your boat, I guess. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa, much like Agua Caliente, is hosting a lot of great April shows that are already sold out. Get ready for glistening beefcake when Thunder From Down Under returns at 8 p.m., Friday, April 7. Tickets are $25—and the show was close to selling out as of our deadline, so act fast. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 28, Jana Kramer will take the stage. You may know her from One Tree Hill or (gag) Dancing With the Stars, but both her albums have reached the Top 5 on the U.S. country charts. Tickets are $29. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is the place to be in April, especially during Coachella and Stagecoach, when a lot of the festival acts stop by. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 6, the band named after a KCRW DJ, Cherry Glazerr will be performing. Considering KCRW has been playing the band quite a bit, and Chery Glaser herself said she’s honored by the band’s name, it’s worth going to check them out. Tickets are $14. At 4 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Brant Bjork will be bringing back his Rolling Heavy-sponsored Desert Generator festival. On the bill this time are Earthless, Orchid, The Shrine and Black Rainbows. Tickets are $55 to $295. At 9 p.m., Sunday, April 30, hot off a Stagecoach performance, Son Volt will perform. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Take note of this Coachella-related event: At 9 p.m., Thursday, April 13, Goldenvoice and FYF will present Young Turks in Palm Springs at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The show will feature Ben UFO, Four Tet, Francis and the Lights, Jamie xx, Kamaiyah, and Sampha with special guests PNL. Tickets are $30. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs; 760-778-6262; aeglive.com.

The Date Shed has one event scheduled. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Katchafire (below) will be performing. The reggae band from New Zealand is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the stop at the Date Shed should be pretty epic. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Vintage video games come to the forefront in Pixels, a feature movie starring Adam Sandler that is based on a quirky little short film by Patrick Jean.

The fact that the short film is a lot cooler than the feature film reveals that perhaps the concept works better in a smaller dose—and that getting Adam Sandler involved was, and usually is, a terrible idea.

Sandler, in mopey-dog wiseass mode, plays Brenner, an installer of home-video equipment and the best friend to Cooper (Kevin James), the president of the United States. Brenner is a former video-game whiz kid who lost a world championship to Eddie (Peter Dinklage) when he failed to come through during a round of Donkey Kong. That loss sent him into some sort of spiral that ruined his life, while fellow gamer Cooper went on to be the leader of the free world.

While Brenner is out making the rounds and trying to score with Violet (Michelle Monaghan), a customer going through marital turmoil, Guam is attacked by the 1980s video game Galaga.

It turns out that aliens found a videotape of old games that was shot into space in the early ’80s—and they interpreted it as a declaration of war on their planet. So they are sending old-timey video games to wipe us out, and using dubbed footage of ’80s icons like Daryl Hall, Ronald Reagan and Madonna as messengers.

It’s fairly interesting at first, but this is an Adam Sandler project, after all, and he and his cohorts wind up wearing out their welcome after the first half. The film goes from mildly entertaining to total Stinksville as it wears on, thanks to the Sandler shtick and some tepid, shallow writing.

As for the special effects, we are talking about Pac-Man, Centipede and Donkey Kong here, so massive, awe-inspiring special effects are not in order. Should you choose to spring for the 3-D version, you will find yourself wholly disappointed.

Surprisingly, even though Sandler is nothing to get excited about, the worst performer in Pixels is the normally reliable Peter Dinklage. He mugs so much in this movie that you could drink a cup of coffee out of his head. Also making an ass of himself is Josh Gad as Ludlow, the strange conspiracy-theorist friend who is around because he’s overweight and kooky.

The film is directed by Chris Columbus, who directed the first, shitty Harry Potter movie (and the second much-better one) along with the awful Mrs. Doubtfire and Home Alone. Even though he’s responsible for some lousy movies, he did debut with Adventures in Babysitting, and that movie ruled. Thus, I can only partially hate him.

The once-mighty Sandler has hit so many cinematic potholes that his suspension is totally shot, and his tires are trashed. He’s got a deal with Netflix to produce and star in films, including the upcoming, already-controversial Western spoof The Ridiculous 6. Hollywood is finally losing faith in him.

It’s sad to see Monaghan, so good in films like Source Code and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, hitting a point in her career in which she has to play a Sandler love interest. In fact, it’s utterly heartbreaking. It’s perhaps the film’s greatest feat that Monaghan makes her character’s leanings toward Sandler semi-convincing. That’s some heavy-duty acting, for sure.

If you are looking for some summer movie fun, go see Ant-Man, Trainwreck or Inside Out. Pixels is a total letdown.

Pixels is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Adam Sandler has done it again: He has made the worst movie of his career. How do his films keep topping themselves in horribleness?

Grown Ups 2—a sequel to the Dennis Dugan disaster that joined David Spade, Chris Rock and Kevin James—is twice as bad as the original. Considering how awful the original was, I didn’t think such a feat was possible.

The plot involves Sandler moving back to his hometown, where a deer enters his house and promptly urinates on him. Then he goes shopping with his friends who fart and burp a lot. Then he has a big party where everybody dresses up as people from the ’80s (Pat Benatar, Bruce Springsteen, The Terminator). Then somebody farts again, and then the movie is over. I sat in a theater in which people were laughing their asses off every time somebody farted. It was one of the most-depressing experiences of my summer so far—and I had to sit through The Purge, so that’s pretty bad.

I have officially given up on Sandler. This is a talented, funny guy who can’t seem to say goodbye to people who drag him down.

Given the box office performance of this piece of crap—it earned more than $42 million on its opening weekend—Sandler will probably be giving Dugan plenty of directing jobs in the future. This is our loss.

Grown Ups 2 is unfortunately playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews