Frivolity has fallen out of fashion in Hollywood comedies. Laughter is now merely part of a didactic journey to an emotional crescendo. Simple slapstick for the point of slapstick is rare. It’s exhausting to continuously be fed vegetables with our comedy, even if films like “The Big Sick” and “Trainwreck” are more carrot cake than Brussel sprouts.
“The Wrong Missy” is just cake. Nothing fancy, maybe a box cake, but cake nonetheless.
Netflix’s new Happy Madison-produced film stars David Spade backed by the usual crew of Sandler-adjacent funnymen: Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson, John Farley, Allen Covert. Having recently met two very different women named Missy, Spade’s newly single character inadvertently invites the lesser of the two Missys on a high-stakes company retreat in Hawaii. He’s up for a major promotion, and the Wrong Missy’s over-the-top quirks threaten to derail the whole thing. There is, of course, a twist, which I won’t give away.
It’s crass. It’s not particularly clever. It’ll still make you laugh. Think “Benchwarmers” as a rom-com. If you’re not too good to enjoy people falling off cliffs or getting kicked in the face, “The Wrong Missy” will be worth your time. And why should you be? What’s wrong with just laughing at harmless gags without a purpose other than laughter itself? If anything, it’s cathartic.
Last June, Sandler starred alongside Jennifer Aniston in Netflix’s summer hit “Murder Mystery,” a fun stab at “Murder on the Orient Express” that traded train travel for a yacht. Like most of Sandler’s films, despite “Murder Mystery’s” blatant disinterest in critical acclaim, it still had heart. “Wrong Missy” is similar, but with more laughs and slightly less focus on the “rom” component.
From the fast pace to the shorter-than-average runtime, it’s Hollywood with its hair down, a refreshing departure from the moralistic comedies we’re being force-fed at the box office (or, more appropriately, the on-demand menu) these days. It’s not brilliant, it won’t change your life, but it’ll keep you laughing for the better part of 90 minutes, and that’s more than I can say for “Downhill.”
“Downhill” is, in a word, terrible—a comedy in the vein of “Brittany Runs a Marathon” or “Wine Country” or “Booksmart,” slotting top talent into a plot that unsuccessfully tries to marry heart and humor in a way that renders both totally flat. It’s like Hollywood feels bad about making jokes so they deliver them in a package of unsolicited moralism to compensate. Some films strike this balance better than others. “Trainwreck,” “Bridesmaids,” “The Big Sick,” and, more recently, “Like a Boss” still supply enough laughs to give their emotional crescendos more credibility.
But all highbrow and middlebrow comedy makes Hollywood a dull industry. Not everything needs to be “Death of Stalin.” Not everything needs to pack a feminist punch. Let us have our lowbrow fun. Give us “Talladega Nights” and “The Waterboy.” We need it.
All this is to say, “The Wrong Missy” will make you laugh. Not for the whole movie. There will be moments you cringe. But as this painful period of global soul-searching marches on, give yourself the luxury of laughter without any strings attached.