Friday Face/Off: Adam Sandler
Harry (does a Little Nicky impression which he thinks is really, really cute):
I think it’s time to re-assess Adam Sandler’s filmic output to date, in light of his gay remake of Three Men And A Baby. It seems he’s lost his way recently. Despite raking in the big bucks, Grown Ups and Just Go With It were pretty terrible. He can do better though! Just before that he brilliantly sent himself up in arguably Judd Apatow’s best film, Funny People, and we all went back to liking him. Ok, so he’s been in some turkeys, but you’d have to be a cold hearted person not to have a soft spot for The Sandman, right?
John (spent years kicking random children just to purge Big Daddy from his system):
Adam Sandler has spent years going out of his way to gradually erode my faith in the essentially altruistic nature of humanity. He’s a perfectly talented actor who has, on occasion, given excellent performances; so why, Penguin Boy, does he persist in making film after worthless film of unwatchable dross? Sandler has made one watchable film in the last decade – the rest of his CV sags and ripples like one of his perennially oversized t-shirts, hiding only the bloated stomach and luxuriantly furred breasts of a man who knows he no longer needs to try.
No longer needs to try? Have you seen Reign Over Me, in which he plays a widowed man in post 9/11 New York? It’s a really great performance, full of emotion and intensity, and completely different to his usual on screen persona, and that was only 2007. I’ll bring up Funny People again. He’s clearly playing a twisted version of himself in it and he does it very well, you begin to feel for both the character and the actor, sucked into these money spinning no brain comedies. Sometimes the lure is too much, but he’s still an actor worth keeping an eye out, as he has the capacity to surprise.
Look, trying to win me over with Judd Apatow plugs is probably not your best move, okay? Ignoring the worthwhile discussion which Hollywood still needs to have about the cultural stranglehold into which Apatow has locked mainstream comedy, Funny People overpoweringly smacks of both Sandler and Apatow’s desperation to do something worthwhile after years of selling their souls and their funnies to the Man, man. I’ve got no beef with Sandler’s performance in Reign Over Me (or Punch-Drunk Love, for that matter), but do two decent roles in a decade justify Sandler being the third highest-earning actor in the world last year? No, they do not.
Don’t you be skirting over Punch-Drunk Love so quickly, it’s the cornerstone of my argument! In my view, PT Anderson’s best film, for so many reasons including Sandler’s performance. If more talented directors would take a shot with Sandler in the leading role then you’d get more performances like that, I’m sure. And in terms of earnings, well, what would justify him being the third highest earning actor in the world? One thing you can say about him is that his films make money, so I guess if you are going to judge actors by their paycheques as those ridiculous lists do, then he fully deserves his place that high up.
I think we’ve actually got to the cornerstone of why I hate Adam Sandler so much – he’s not talentless, he’s just content to make vacuous nonsense which brings in the big bucks. And I even accept that this isn’t strictly his fault – if there are soi-disant human beings willing to hand him FORTY MILLION DOLLARS for horseshit like Grown Ups then of course he’s not going to bother seeking out challenging indie projects where he has to wear his own clothes (not that he doesn’t always do that anyway). I don’t hate him for his acting, I hate him for pandering to lowlifes – and I hate them for making it worth his while.
Ok, that’s maybe been the case in recent years, but some of his silly comedies are good too: The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, Mr Deeds, Big Daddy, all good, funny movies, and his skits on Saturday Night Live were pretty great too. Also, and I think this is possibly the main reason why I love him, but he performed on a tribute album to the late, great Warren Zevon, singing a genuinely pretty great version of Werewolves Of London. So there we go, top bloke.
That’s pretty amazing, actually. I’ll consider retracting the hit I’ve currently got out on him if he’ll promise only to make dour kitchen sink dramas for the next ten years. And buy a shirt that fits.