The Wrong Missy, the latest offering from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, opens with a blind date from hell. Tim (David Spade) has come to a flatly lit bar to meet Missy (Lauren Lapkus). He is a paper-pusher who looks old enough to be her dad. She is a psychopath who carries a giant Bowie knife in her purse and climbs into Tim’s bathroom stall when he tries to make a disastrous escape via a men’s room window. Obviously, it doesn’t work out. Three months later, Tim accidentally swaps bags at an airport with one Melissa Doherty (Molly Sims), a former Miss Maryland who also happens to go by “Missy.” They get to talking. They’re both teetotalers; they’re reading the same James Patterson novel; they both love Phil Collins. They make out in an airport broom closet and exchange numbers.
Tim starts texting Missy when he gets back home. The texts turn explicitly sexual. He invites her to go with him on a company retreat to Hawaii. Of course, we know what’s going on. It’s not the dream Missy that he’s texting but the obnoxious nightmare Missy who happens to be saved in his phone under the same name. And anyone who’s seen one of the lesser Happy Madison titles knows what’s in store: another lousy farce set at a resort. Having bragged to his colleagues about his long-distance girlfriend, Tim decides to pass Missy off as a Georgetown-grad beauty queen. She, in turn, gets black-out drunk, falls off a seaside cliff, rapes him in his sleep, and then tries to patch things up by hypnotizing Tim’s boss (Geoff Pierson) into believing that Tim is his beloved grandmother.
The thing is, this wrong Missy is in fact the right Missy, and all of her terrifying pathologies are actually endearing quirks of a zany, lonely personality that makes for an attractive opposite to the straitlaced Tim. She’s a licensed marriage counselor, hypnotist, and palm reader, and she’s gonna help Tim whether he likes it or not. (At this point, the reader is invited to imagine a gender-flipped version of this scenario, which also involves Tim being led to believe that Missy might kill herself if he tells her off.) There’s precedent for all this in dark screwball comedy—like Elaine May’s A New Leaf, for example—but The Wrong Missy is listlessly indifferent in everything except its adherence to the Happy Madison formula. It has the tropical vacation backdrop, the nonsensical deceptions, the pointless celebrity cameos, the missing limbs, the litany of friends and relations.
Rob Schneider, a longtime beneficiary of Sandler’s noblesse oblige, is on hand, playing a shark tour guide, as is Nick Swardson, cast as a repellent HR guy. The nepotism is now in its second generation; there are Sandler children and nephews in bit parts and a Schneider offspring on the soundtrack. But one crucial ingredient is missing, and that’s the Sandman himself. The Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems recently gave him a phenomenal showcase, but the truth is that there’s been an overall uptick in the quality of Sandler’s Netflix vehicles in the past few years, including The Week Of and, to a lesser extent, Murder Mystery—not to mention his terrific performance in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected). One can’t shake the impression that Spade has been handed his unwanted leftovers. It doesn’t help that he has the screen presence of an unenthused real estate agent.
Tyler Spindel, a Happy Madison veteran, directs The Wrong Missy with all of the worst tendencies of the Sandler shingle style. It’s a series of claustrophobically unfunny scenes that drag on and on, interspersed with establishing shots and music cues that look and sound like they were licensed from a stock library. The closest it gets to being mildly amusing is in an attempted threesome in which Tim and Missy get stoned out of their minds on cannabis-infused toothpaste and keep accidentally knocking the third party off the bed. But the rest is palm trees, hotel décor, and misanthropic improv, filled out to exactly 90 minutes (a contractual obligation, one presumes) by a long corporate talent show sequence in which one can’t be sure whether they’re supposed to be embarrassed for the characters or for the cast and crew.