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’s a loose-cannon who carries a giant Bowie knife in her purse and climbs into Tim’s bathroom stall when he tries to make a disastrous escape through the men’s restroom window. Obviously, it doesn’t work out. Three months later, Tim accidentally swaps bags at an airport with Melissa Doherty (Molly Sims), a former Miss Maryland who also happens to go by “Missy.” They get to talking. They both don’t drink; they’re both reading the same James Patterson novel; they both love Phil Collins and concerts. They make out in an airport broom closet and exchange numbers.
Before long 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 and what’s coming. 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 a majority of the 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.
Except, the thing is, this wrong Missy is actually in fact the right Missy, and all of her terrifying pathologies are actually endearing quirks of zany, lonely personality that makes for an attractive opposite to the straitlaced Tim. (In some broad ways, it feels like an abysmal version of Something’s Wild.) She’s a licensed marriage counselor, hypnotist, and palm reader, and she’s gonna help Tim whether he likes it or not. There’s precedent for all this in dark screwball comedy, and Lapkus is the source of the film’s few laughs, but The Wrong Missy is listlessly indifferent in everything except its adherence to the Happy Madison formula. It has the vacation setting, the nonsensical deceptions, the pointless cameos, the missing limbs, the slew of friends and relations.
Rob Schneider appears playing a shark tour guide, as does Nick Swardson, who plays a repellent HR guy. The nepotism is now in its second generation, as there’s 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 saw him deliver a great showcase, but the quality of Sandler’s Netflix vehicles have largely been on the low end — that is outside of his great work in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected). And it’s seeing this, that one can’t shake the impression that Spade has been handed his unwanted leftovers. And it doesn’t help that he has the screen presence of an unenthused sales agent.
Tyler Spindel, a Happy Madison veteran, directs The Wrong Missy like a machine programmed with the worst tendencies of the Sandler style. It’s a series of claustrophobically unfunny scenes that can drag on and on, interspersed with establishing shots and music cues that look and sound like they were licensed from a stock collection. The sparse moments of amusement come from Lapkus’ early-’90s-zany-Jim Carrey-esque performance, but the rest is palm trees, hotel décor, and misanthropic improv, filled out to exactly ninety 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. With the laugh-meter on low, The Wrong Missy is the Happy Madison formula at its usual lazy and uninspired approach.
The Wrong Missy is available to stream on Netflix