Dueling Reviews: The Wrong Missy

Alec Toombs’ Take:

★1/2

I’ve had a rough go of it with my movie selections of late. In the past three days I’ve watched my three least favorite films of 2020 thus far – “John Henry” (available on Netflix), “Capone” (available on VOD) and now “The Wrong Missy,” which dropped on Netflix Wednesday, May 13.

“The Wrong Missy” is the latest in a long line of Happy Madison productions where Adam Sandler is not only kind enough to keep his friends and family employed, but he also sends them on vacation. “50 First Dates,” “Grown Ups,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Just Go With It,” “Jack and Jill,” “Blended,” “The Do-Over” and “Murder Mystery” all fall into this subgenre of schlock too. Sandler seems like a good guy and I can appreciate him looking out for his people, but the creative output often leaves much to be desired. I want less stuff like this and more works along the lines of the quarantine music videos Sandler’s done solo and with Pete Davidson on “Saturday Night Live,” his inspired 2019 Netflix comedy special “100% Fresh” and worthwhile movies such as “The Meyerowitz Stories” and “Uncut Gems.”

David Spade stars as Tim Morris, an unlucky in love banking executive whose fiancée, Julia (Sarah Chalke of “Scrubs”), has left him for their co-worker, Rich (Chris Witaske). Tim’s Grandma sets him up on a blind date with Missy (gifted comedienne Lauren Lapkus), which goes horribly awry. Soon thereafter, Tim meets the girl of his dreams, Melissa (model-turned-actress Molly Sims), at the airport. The two are a perfect match – neither of them drink, they’re reading the same James Patterson novel, they have the same carry-on luggage and they’ve both been recently cheated on. They wind up snogging in a janitor’s closet, but the make out sesh is cut short when Melissa has to bail to catch her flight. Tim gets Melissa’s number before parting ways. There’s a snag however – Melissa’s nickname is Missy, which is how she enters her contact info into Tim’s phone.

The bank Tim works for has been bought by Jack Winstone (Geoff Pierson, forever the Dad from The WB’s “Unhappily Ever After”), who takes his employees to a Hawaiian resort for team building activities where Tim will have to compete with Jess AKA The Barracuda (Jackie Sandler, Adam’s Mrs.) for a highly coveted promotion. Tim’s overreaching Human Resources buddy, Nate (Nick Swardson, looking like he’s trying to fill out to such an extent that he can be another Chris Farley to Spade), takes it upon himself to invite Missy along. Unfortunately, for all parties involved, he invites “The Wrong Missy.” Chaos ensues.

Spade can be genuinely funny when given the right material. I enjoyed him in “PCU,” “Tommy Boy,” “Black Sheep” and “Joe Dirt.” He plays the straight man here and he’s fine at it I suppose, but the dude’s look seriously bothers me. He looks like Ellen DeGeneres’ stunt double. Also, what’s up with his hair? Is it a crappy wig or a worse haircut? Lapkus seems like a nice lady who I’ve dug on countless podcasts, but she’s annoying as all hell here. The worst actor of the bunch amid this motley crew is Jackie Sandler. She makes Tara Reid look like Meryl Streep. I found Denise Richards more convincing as a nuclear physicist in “The World is Not Enough” than I do Sandler as a businesswoman in “The Wrong Missy.” Nepotism thy name is Jackie Sandler.

“The Wrong Missy” is directed by Tyler Spindel, a Harvard University graduate who previously directed Spade in former Happy Madison/Netflix collaboration, “Father of the Year.” That movie was much better than this one, but his filmmaking overall seems to suggest Trump University more than the Ivy Leagues. The flick was co-written by Kevin Barnett, one of the army of screenwriters who penned the 2007 remake of “The Heartbreak Kid,” for which this feels like a lame-brained rehash. There’s little to recommend in “The Wrong Missy” other than a coupla cool needle drops including Elle King’s cover of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” and Vampire Weekend’s “This Life,” which despite being a good tune is kinda played out with its omnipresence in ads for TBS’ “Miracle Workers: Dark Ages” and “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.” The biggest and almost only laughs come courtesy of John Farley, Chris’ younger brother. Nepotism rears its ugly head again.

Adam Aasen’s Take:

★★

Sometimes your enjoyment of a movie really depends on your expectations.

If you get really excited to see a new movie in theaters. You shell out the money. Get a babysitter. Buy popcorn and expensive snacks. And the movie isn’t as good as you hoped… you’re somewhat disappointed.

When you watch a movie on an airplane, flip around on HBO on a lazy Saturday afternoon or watch something mindless on Netflix by yourself, the expectations are much lower. The lower bar leads to much more enjoyment.

After a string of terrible movies, Adam Sandler’s productions company Happy Madison has lowered the bar sufficiently.

The Sandler-starring theatrical offerings include some real stinkers such as “Jack and Jill,” “That’s My Boy,” “Don’t Mess With the Zohan” and “Grown Ups.”

At least those movies have the charm and charisma of Sandler.

The Happy Madison movies that he merely produces but doesn’t act in? If the bar were any lower you’d have to dig a hole in the floor.

Needless to say, I’m not a Happy Madison aficionado. I’ve steered clear of the “straight to Netflix” movies that have been lazily churned out.

But there was something that intrigued me by his latest streaming comedy starring David Spade called “The Wrong Missy.” And that’s the female co-lead Lauren Lapkus.

Lapkus is an underrated comic talent that started off doing improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. I first discovered her playing characters on a podcast called “Comedy Bang Bang!” Eventually I saw her pop up in small roles. She was a corrections officer on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” and she played a cheating wife in the HBO series “Crashing.” Most people know her from her brief role in “Jurassic World” as a tech operator or from playing the girlfriend of the comic book guy on “The Big Bang Theory.”

The premise of the movie is David Spade, playing the straight man, goes on an awful blind date with Lapkus. Months later, he runs into his dream girl played by model Molly Sims. They exchange numbers but she has the same name — Melissa — and so he mistakenly starts texting the crazy girl from the blind date instead of his dream girl. He invites her to a work retreat on a tropical island and is shocked when “The Wrong Missy” shows up. She’s loud. She vulgarly talks about sex. She gets drunk. She embarrasses him and he’s too meek to tell her the truth.

The humor in the movie is certainly hit or miss. There’s a mean spirited — almost misogynistic — veil over how they treat Missy’s character. When she decides to have sex with Spade’s character when he’s not completely willing, well, it was uncomfortable. (But as much as Isla Fisher’s similar scene in “Wedding Crashers.”)

“The Wrong Missy” definitely isn’t for kids but it has childish humor. It’s got a lot of swearing and sex jokes. Plenty of prat falls and slapstick humor. There’s a three-way sex scene with some physical comedy that will make you cringe because it’s so bad.

Spade is obviously mailing it in. He’s the straight man so he doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting but some of his line reading seems like he just wants to get out of there.

One actress was so bad in her line reading I had to look her up to see how she got into this movie. Even for a Happy Madison movie she was bad. Turns out she’s Adam Sandler’s wife. Makes sense.

Still a few actors throw themselves into their roles with reckless abandon. Geoff Pierson, who often plays politicians on TV, is mildly amusing as the boss. Nick Swardson and Rob Schneider might not be your thing but they give their full effort in their cameos. And Lapkus brings a zany energy to her role that reminds you of Jim Carrey in “The Cable Guy.” It’s a shame her co-stars and the screenwriter didn’t put in the same effort that she did. My guess is her commitment stems from her improv background where you don’t second guess but rather say “yes and..” while fully committing to any comic premise. Her energy is contagious.

The screenplay is as lazy as some of the acting. Predictably Spade’s character starts to fall for the crazy Missy but the transformation is forced and seems to be predicated on the fact that she helps him get a promotion at work. At the end, the movie half-heartedly attempts to be a romantic comedy but there’s no teary-eyed moment like “The Wedding Singer” or “50 First Dates.” It limps toward the finish line.

I had really low expectations so I mildly enjoyed this one. I would never have seen it in a theater or paid to rent it even. But it was worth 90 minutes of my time. Barely.

I did not hate this movie. I laughed more than a handful of times. I liked Lapkus. But I can’t in good conscience give this movie a high grade. It’s a bad movie you might enjoy depending on your tastes.

The opening scene showing the blind date is particularly funny and showcases the talent of Lapkus. If you aren’t interested or amused by the opening scene, just turn it off because it’s pretty much more of the same. In fact, it kind of goes downhill from there.

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