The Best and Worst of Adam Sandler

It's summertime and that means Adam Sandler has a new movie opening. Duck! OK, that's not fair. I call foul on myself. I'm actually a big Sandler fan. I'm very fond of his work on compact disc. He's done his fair share of movies I even love. I'm not so sure Grown Ups will be one of them. In fact, I'm willing to bet it isn't. But you just never know with the guy. Sometimes his films are just harmless comedies you may or may not find amusing (see: You Don't Mess With the Zohan). Sometimes they're movies I loathe with every fiber of my being (more on that later). Sandler is interesting enough to hit some balls out of the park -- it's just that his batting average sucks. I can't say there are five movies of his I really love or five movies I really hate. He's had some interesting failures, movies I like even if they didn't work completely (hey there, Spanglish). And others that are pretty bad but still make me laugh and laugh (Big Daddy). So instead of the traditional top five/bottom five, here are two groups of fours.

The Good

Happy Gilmore

I love Happy Gilmore. Yes, it's just a silly, irreverent comedy with a paper-thin story. Doesn't matter. There are exceptions in life. I tend to care less about little things like "plot" when a bizarre little comedy like this is working so well. My favorite thing in Happy Gilmore? Ben Stiller as the most evil nursing home orderly in the universe.

Punch-Drunk Love

One of my favorite movies in the past decade, let alone one of my favorite Adam Sandler entries. Sandler is really, really good here and funnier on repeated viewings. Paul Thomas Anderson took many of the familiar themes in Sandler's films and turned them on their heads. Barry Egan is still a man-child. He still has the same anger management issues Sandler's characters often exhibit. The approach is what's different and the result is a beautiful and fresh romantic freak show of unlikely lovers.

Reign Over Me

Now here's an under-seen gem from writer-director Mike Binder. This here was one of my favorite films from 2007 and boasts one of the Sand Man's best roles. He gives a fully convincing, touching performance as a man in the midst of a deep, dark depression. A lot of the talk surrounding this movie was Sandler's move into more dramatic territory, but Don Cheadle displays for us yet again why he's one of our best working actors today -- Hotel for Dogs notwithstanding.

The Wedding Singer
Sandler's crossover movie! This sweet, nostalgic romantic comedy worked for pretty much everyone. Great soundtrack, and lots of bad hair. My kind of movie.

The Bad

Airheads

Did the Brendan Fraser decline begin here? Was there ever a Brendan Fraser ascension? I don't know. He's likable. People keep rooting for him to make a good movie. Who would have thought in 1994 that Adam Sandler would eventually have a more significant resume?

Bedtime Stories

What a lazy, lazy movie. I wish this movie on no child. By the time Bedtime Stories reared its ugly head, Sandler already had a solid resume of bad movies so it's not like this one came out of nowhere. But watching Guy Pearce sell out like this was just painful.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

I hate this movie. I really, really hate this movie. The whole "Hey isn't this funny because we're actually macho and not really gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!)" act got old fast. Like halfway-through-the movie-trailer fast. Yet it banked $120 million domestically. Really, America?

Little Nicky

Sandler was on fire for a while in the mid-to-late '90s and it looked like nothing would stop his reign at the box office. Until Little Nicky. I give Sandler credit for trying something different with the character of Nicky (I guess). But he forgot the golden rule: Never make your lead the most annoying character in the world. Even the Chuck and Larry crowd didn't show for this stinker.

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Dre writes for Film.com weekly.


VMAs 2018