By 1999, Adam Sandler was showing his age. Well, I mean his face was, but he still acted like an adolescent asshole in most of his movies. Still, he wasn’t really doing anything particularly major for a while. Bid Daddy happened. People watched it, they shrugged and then went on with their lives. Adam Sandler, at this point, had to have been feeling the looming cloud of irrelevance.
As the year 2000 came around, and the world didn’t end, Y2K became a punchline and Adam Sandler’s career was a relic of a bygone decade, the once-notable performer was trying to get a taste of two worlds. He had seen a number of comedians do well in dramatic roles, and Sandler himself began to follow this trend. He started appearing in mediocre dramas in which he shows some growth as an actor, following each one up with a truly obnoxious piece-of-garbage comedy.
Little Nicky has the distinction of being not only one of Sandler’s worst films, but also of being a comedy that really just killed comedies in general for me. Upon leaving Little Nicky I found myself contemplating things. I was wondering what life meant. Questioning my very being. I remember a vast cumulonimbus cloud hovering onerously in the sky, like it just wanted to turn into a giant anvil and crush everything under it. I was wrong, of course. It was just a pretty nasty thunderstorm. One that resulted in some damage. I thought, hell, Little Nicky was so bad that God is trying to kill us for watching it.
The continued existence of a career for Sandler has been one of the most amazing and confusing anomalies in film history. Audiences have a tendency to be rather unforgiving when a movie sucks. A lot of careers have been destroyed because of one bad movie. Sandler had several yet, people still bought tickets! By this time, Adam Sandler himself had started his own production company, Happy Madison, an amalgamation of two of his earlier films (I suppose Airhead Overboard was too on-the-nose). I took this as a personal insult. He was actively pitching his other movies in the one terrible movie he just sold!
Sandler continued to act regularly. One more serious film (Spanglish, Reign Over Me, Punch Drunk Love) alongside several awful overflowing septic tanks (Anger Management, 50 First Dates, Eight Crazy Nights). This was the pattern for a while, but then… I don’t know. I think Adam Sandler may have a brain tumor or something.
2007 brought us I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Sandler was no stranger to homophobic comedy, with the occasional gay stereotype or a stab about a guy “getting a little too close” here or there, but this movie was pretty much over the line. The premise involved two firefighters pretending to be in a domestic partnership to earn benefits. This forces them to pretend to be a gay couple through the movie, despite just about everyone HAVING to know they aren’t gay. Oh, forget it. The ruse is shallow and the movie was offensive and stupid.
Chuck and Larry, however, saw a new chapter in Sandler’s career. He began starring in more and more over-produced tripe under the Happy Madison label, still giving his various untalented friends like Kevin James and Rob Scheider work. But outside of that, his movies became more and more aggressive with their… badness. I can’t really place it, but somehow, Adam Sandler found a way to get WORSE!
Post-2007, Adam Sandler began hiding his badness behind other actors. Appearing in movies like Funny People and Grown Ups. Funny People at least had the benefit of having a talented writer and director at the helm in Judd Apatow. He was also giving a supporting performance to Seth Rogen, who worked well in the movie and Sandler’s character seemed to be something of a sort of parody of his own real-life career, starring in dreadful high-concept garbage much to the dread of the characters in the movie. Grown Ups was… a little different.
Grown Ups is bad in a far more cynical way. Most of his worst films have Sandler himself either trying too hard or failing at a concept that wouldn’t have worked even if the people starring in the movie had the chops to pull it off in the first place. Grown Ups has Adam Sandler paling around with old friends, doing stuff. That’s it. We get lots of lame dialogue and Kevin James falling over stuff, but nothing really happens in the movie. It is bad and Sandler probably knows it and just does not care.
Now, despite every bitter, angry thing I have said about Adam Sandler up to this point, even I could not believe what was right around the corner. In 2011, Adam Sandler would give us his single worst performance yet. Jack and Jill was so awful, so absolutely terrible, that I would have sworn that his was it for Happy Madison. I could have bet that he would spend the rest of his career voicing straight-to-video childrens' animated movies and appearing on some celebrity reality show. I cannot believe I was wrong. I mean, think about this, people! We gave a number of good performers the boot for one bad movie! ONE! What is wrong with this country!? How, does one follow up Jack and Jill, in one of the single worst performances in major Hollywood history, with an actual career!? I’ll tell you how! With a comedy about child rape!
I mean it when I say, even I didn’t think he’d go there. But he did. Oh, yessir, he did. That’s My Boy has to be a low point in comic writing. Compared to smart discussions about forbidden romance in Manhattan, or the shockingly disturbing take on lust in American Beauty, Sandler has taken an already touchy subject and drew phallic symbols all over it! The movie goes so far as to actually SHOW the already heavily-implied statutory rape at one point. I’m not crazy right? People still willingly give this guy their money? WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!?!?!
I ask that with all sincerity. This guy still has movies lined up. He’s still relevant. Why? What are you, the viewing audience, getting from Adam Sandler that is so special? I can give you dozens of mediocre comedies from the 70’s and 80’s that are at least ten times better than anything he has put out in the last two and a half decades, so why does he still have fans!? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Okay. I'm okay. I need... a change of scenery. An actor that sucks but... One that doesn't make my blood pressure go up when I think about him. I'll be back again with another rant against people far richer and more successful than me and this time, I'll try not to be so... emotional...