The Films of Adam Sandler - Are They Really As Bad As Critics Make Them Out To Be?
In The Beginning...
I will begin with Billy Madison. It is, to me, a waste of time better spent cleaning out my belly button lint. I just don't like the movie, sorry. But I do recognize he was young, oftentimes infantile, juvenile and any other -ile word I can think of. But, it had its moments I suppose. Then came...
Happy Gilmore. Again, infantile, juvenile but funny. I mean, seriously: fighting Bob Barker? Are you kidding me? Then getting his fanny handed to him by that old man Barker was great. And working putt-putt golf into real golf with that final hole of golf against the evil Shooter McGavin was good; not great, but good. Improvement, slight but definitely improvement.
The next ten years were a mishmash of hits and misses for Sandler, from The Animal and Deuce Bigalow (sorry-can't stand these) to The Waterboy (better) and The Longest Yard (not too bad) and 50 First Dates (really well done in my humble opinion). One thing I have noticed is that something strange was occurring in Sandler: he was growing up, tackling different issues and becoming more family friendly as he went along. This is not to say he no longer had oftentime juvenile behavior (read Little Nicky and The Hot Chick) but rather he was becoming more attuned to something better, something more closely related to an adult.
I began to like him and his films.
This film also has one the greatest remakes of a song I have ever heard: Over The Rainbow by Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, otherwise known simply as Izzy. His sweet, soft voice, incongruous for a large man, sends shivers up and down my spine as he sings my favorite song of all time.
It must be great as it has almost 190,000,000 views on Youtube.
50 First Dates
Take the film 50 First Dates. It deals with a young woman (Drew Barrymore) who suffered a tragic accident which left her unable to recall anything beyond a certain point in her life. She relived the day of the accident (which, by the way, is quite strange and funny at the same time) beginning each morning as the one previous to it. Sandler comes to know her and her brother and father, eventually falling in love with her. The problem is that each day he must meet her again for the first time, then convince her to fall in love with him all over again.
Sound crazy? Well it is and it works. Each night's sleep hits the reset button on her and she awakes, refreshed and happy, ready to face the day. Sandler's solution is simple, effective and sweet.
It is heartfelt. He behaves as one who unwittingly falls in love will act: they will do anything they can to be with the one they are in love with. I really like the song he sings to her, "Forgetful Lucy". Touching, simple, funny yet endearing at the same time.
If you are one of those who have never watched an Adam Sandler film and have your reservations, this is the one to watch. You will enjoy it.
I wonder if Adam has a "thing " for Drew Barrymore. Beginning in 1998's The Wedding Singer, continuing on in in 2004's 50 First Dates, then in 2014's Blended they team up to form a perfect union of kindred spirits on the silver screen. Both a little kooky, just a tad off center, but happy, silly and fully enjoying life as an onscreen couple.
Blended tells a story of a single father who has lost his wife. He has three little girls and has a bit of trouble handling the feminine side of things. The girls wear clothes from the store he works at: Dick's Sporting Goods. Their hair is done in a rather boyish manner and there is little opportunity for them to experience life as a young woman.
On the other side of the spectrum is Drew as a divorced mother of two boys. They are true boys and desperately desire a male figure in their lives. But not Sandler. They do not like him one little bit at first.
Drew's co-worker (the delightful Wendi McLendon-Covey of The Goldbergs) is involved with Dick of Dick's Sporting Goods and is scared of commitment (actually, she is scared of motherhood). She backs out on a romantic trip to Africa and when Drew and Adam learn of this, they both attempt to get a portion of the trip unbeknownst to each other. So, they set off individually on a trip to Africa that is designed specifically for a blended couple. Read two single parents combined to create a "blended" family.
The result is a series of hijinx that is at times wearing yet very funny. She endears herself to his daughters by providing something they are in need of while he does the same for her sons. Along they way, they discover that each has what the other desperately needs.
And Sandler delivers another heartfelt yet silly song at the end of the film. It costars his real family and delivers on the family feeling the film is detailing, proving Adam has grown up.
Grown Ups and Grown Ups II
There are any number of critics who panned these films as being juvenile, crass, below average in intelligence and other harsh thoughts. And while I can see the merits of these statements I also see Sandler continuing to grow up, detailing how family life can be, what causes an issue in a family and how they come back together. And just as importantly, showing what friendship is all about.
In 2010's Grown Ups, Sandler plays a well off father whose family has gotten away from what he feels are the important things in life. He decides to take them on a vacation to a location he enjoyed as a child, along with his childhood buddies and their families. While there, everyone begins to understand that what they thought was fun really wasn't and what they experience together is really what matters most. When you watch, look for the cup phone scene. Hilarious!
How can you not love that? Family being important. Taking time away from your everyday lives to enjoy one another. And along the way learn something vital, something that will make you a better person. I'll watch a film about this any day.
Grown Ups II carries on the same vibe when his family have moved back to his hometown. There they meet up with a college gang who are led by none other than Twilight hearthrob Taylor Lautner. His performance is just crazy enough to make you laugh, and for those who went to college, you will remember someone just like this. That is, if YOU weren't this person!
The highlight of the film is the party scene. It is themed and of course, is set in the 80's. Look for the characters who made the decade what it was; they are many and varied.
I recently viewed this film, not really expecting much. My youngest son loved it, due in no small part to the old time video games it held. As I watched it with him, laughing most of the way, I found something gratifying in the film, where nerds and gamers do have something to offer the world. Weird? Definitely. But it is another family friendly, fun experience that isn't too deep, too violent, has too many bad words and no sex whatsoever.
In other words, it is something a family can watch together. Every scene isn't for everyone, yet there is something for everyone in it.
The Music and The Cameos
Sandler is most definitely a child of the 80's and his taste in music is on display for all to see. In every film he draws on his younger days and brings forth a veritable treasure chest of old gold. Call Me by Blondie, Black Magic Woman by Santana, Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns and Roses, Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. The list seems endless. We constantly begin singing during his films, enjoying what is to us a great soundtrack of our lives.
He has stars that make cameos as well. Billy Idol, John McEnroe, Bob Barker (the price is wrong b__ch!), Lawrence Taylor, Dan Patrick, Regis Philbin, Dan Aykroyd, Quentin Tarantino, Derek Jeter, Serena Williams, Martha Stewart, James Earl Jones, George Takai, Johnny Depp, Brian Cox, and Sean Bean are but a few of the A list stars who have appeared in his films. Why, you may ask? To me, it boils down to one thing: they have fun.
And to those he has starred with in movies, he has done more. He purchased a Maserati for each of his co-stars in Grown Ups. Yes, he bought a $200,000 car for David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and Kevin James. What A friend!
Keeping his friends working
Adam also does something I find highly commendable: he takes care of his friends. Allen Covert has appeared in virtually every Sandler movie made. He is Ten Second Tom in 50 First Dates.
Peter Dante is another long time friend of Adam's. He has appeared in over a dozen Sandler films.
Steve Buscemi began working with him in Airheads and hasn't stopped since.
Nick Swardson is another actor who Sandler has assisted along the way. Almost half of his film appearances are in Adam's movies.
And who can forget Rob Schneider. "You can do it!!". Uttered first in The Waterboy this became a catchphrase in who knows how many Sandler films over the years. He has appeared in perhaps more films with Sandler than anyone, somewhere approaching twenty films or so.
This core group is in most films together, making a known presence on the screen for moviegoers to enjoy. And all the while, making a living because Adam remembers his friends. That's a pretty cool thing to me.
Critics routinely pan his films, calling them among the worst films ever made. Yet most of his films are enjoyed by the masses and make money: a lot of money. Grown Ups gets a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes, cost $80,000,000 to make yet made over $250,000,000. Its sequel Grown Ups II was rated even worse with a 7% rating, cost the same and made about the same. Pixels cost $88,000,000, made about $250,000,000 again and received a 17% rating.
When will the critics learn that what America wants is something Sandler has, and they don't listen to the critics? They are superfluous to our needs and only matter to themselves. Sorry, but the truth hurts.
Not every Sandler film is great, or even good. But enough are good enough to allow people to forget their troubles for awhile, maybe learn a lesson such as family matters, friendships are forever and you can find both love and happiness if you are looking for it. And because of that I will continue to enjoy Adam Sandler films moving forward. And watch some of his films time and time again; such as those I've spoken about here. If you haven't seen them, give one or two of them a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.