It’s a tired cliché now, but Adam Sandler movies are generally considered to be the equivalent of cinematic poison. However, is that actually true, and if so, why is it that Adam Sandler movies are so bad?
NOT ALL ADAM SANDLER MOVIES ARE TERRIBLE! Yes, the majority of his movies are generally stupid, lazy and unfunny, but that doesn’t speak for every movie. Go back to the 1990s, and some of his comedies, including Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, aren’t appalling. They’re not great, but they’re silly, harmless comedies. Sandler is also pretty good in the lead voice role in Hotel Transylvania, and his dramatic performances in films like Men, Women And Children and Punch-Drunk Love aren’t usually as appalling as his more ridiculous comedies.
What’s more is that there is clearly an audience for Adam Sandler movies, otherwise he wouldn’t keep making them. Four of his last five films have made over $100m at the global box office, and he’s been nominated for, and even won, various Kids’, People’s, and Teen Choice Awards.
So, what I’m saying here is that, if you like Adam Sandler movies, that’s perfectly fine, you’re not in a huge minority. However, there is still a popular consensus that a lot of his films are very poor, and that’s what this post is all about.
This is by far the biggest problem with all Adam Sandler movies, so frankly, it’s not entirely his fault. Sandler is involved with the screenplay in some of his movies, like Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, Jack And Jill and You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, but more often than not, he’s not the one doing the worst crimes.
There is of course the evidence that they’re generally lazily-written comedies, relying more on toilet humour as a way to get cheap laughs rather than try to inject any genuinely funny jokes into the film, but you can’t just dismiss these movies as ‘stupid’ and leave it at that.
The worst way in which I’ve seen the writing in Adam Sandler movies go is down the offensive route, with the 2012 comedy That’s My Boy (my personal most hated Sandler movie) as the prime example.
A stupid, turn-your-brain-off comedy is acceptable, but there becomes no excuse for it when it starts getting mean-spirited. That’s My Boy makes fun of some of the most appalling things, including incest, racism, paedophilia and all sorts, and when the comedy really isn’t funny, which the lazily-written script isn’t, it makes it even more horrible to bear. (By the way, I’d like to shout out writer David Caspe for having written that shameful and vile script.)
We’ve seen offensive comedies in Sandler’s repertoire before, such as You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, which offends all sorts of racial minorities and tries to exploit that for laughs (but gladly fails). There’s no way that this level of comedy can be excused with the ‘it’s all in good fun!’ line, because it isn’t! It’s not funny! There are some things that you just don’t go and make fun of, and that’s what makes these sorts of Sandler movies go so wrong.
The other worst writing mistake that these movies often commit is just being so boring. They’re meant to be comedies! Going into a Sandler movie, I always expect juvenile humour, but I can turn a blind eye to that and try to enjoy the film as an easy-going comedy, but when the films get dull, then it gets painful.
There are hundreds of silly comedies that you can just watch and not laugh, but not hate. However, so many Adam Sandler movies, such as Grown Ups and Pixels, are just tedious, and that makes them almost unwatchable.
Normally, the focus on normal people over ridiculous characters (which we’ll get onto in a minute) is less annoying, but replacing it with a slow-moving, humdrum story that doesn’t disguise the bad comedy is the big problem. There are of course very few comedies that have really good stories in and of themselves, even films like Anchorman aren’t riveting watching, but the hilarious humour makes up for it, because that’s what the point of the movie is.
However, if we take Pixels as an example, it’s clear to see how fun can be turned into boredom so easily. This film has a great concept: retro 80s video game characters attack Earth, and nerds have to save the world (and I have to admit I was quietly optimistic about Pixels before it came out).
The problem is, however, when too much time is spent on boring main characters in the middle of a potentially fun story that it becomes dull, and with no good comedy to make up for that, of course it’s going to be a painful watch.
I’ve said throughout this article that the bad reputation for Adam Sandler’s movies isn’t entirely his fault, and I stand by that. However, he still deserves criticism for a lot of his acting decisions.
If you look through all his mainstream movies, Adam Sandler can only play two types of characters (both of which are shown just above): a normal human (which is almost always boring), or a cartoon character (which is almost always annoying).
I’m not saying Sandler’s performances in all his movies are atrocious. Go back to 1996’s Happy Gilmore, he plays a loud-mouthed, cartoonish man in that, but he’s actually quite funny, as is the rest of the movie, or even Billy Madison, which, although pretty annoying, isn’t as unbearable as you might think.
However, there’s a good handful of his performances that really are bad, and they’re more often than not one of, if not the most, annoying and disappointing thing about those films.
This is where I’d like to cite the two worst Sandler movies: That’s My Boy and Jack And Jill.
Both of these movies are terribly written, but I’d say that the worst individual thing about both of them is Sandler’s performances.
In That’s My Boy, he plays a drunk, immature and offensive middle-aged man, which is pretty standard practice at this point. The problem here is his stupid Bostonian accent he puts on. Firstly, it doesn’t sound anything like a decent Boston accent, and secondly it’s unbearably annoying – to the extent where I had to stop the film for a bit because my ears were genuinely hurting from listening to the sound of his voice.
In Jack And Jill, we get a double treatment of Sandler (oh goody!), and he shows us both of the characters he can play, and does them as badly as possible. His male role is simply tedious, and exhaustingly boring to watch on screen, but his female role is the worst of all.
From start to finish, we have to cope with watching a man do the most painfully irritating high voice and act like a chipmunk on caffeine, and are somehow expected not to want to tear our own hair out? It’s these sorts of performances that are most annoying, and what’s worst is when you see them time and time again after we’re sure Sandler has got the message.
So, why are Adam Sandler movies so bad? Well, not all of them are: I think Happy Gilmore is good fun, I have a soft spot for the dramatic finale of Click, and Just Go With It is a bog-standard romantic comedy.
However, for the films that are so atrocious, there are two main factors: the lazy writing that’s either boring or offensive, and Adam Sandler’s acting, which is either boring or shrill and annoying. Which is worse? I’ll let you decide for yourself, but it’s clear that there are so many problems with so many Adam Sandler movies, and yet they’re still not getting any better.
I hope this article helped to inform you or clear something up, and I can only hope and pray that Sandler reads this and takes the advice (I know he won’t, but it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?), somehow turns his career around, and starts making consistently decent movies!