In the middle of the 2006 film Click, audiences realized just how fascinated Adam Sandler is with the comedy of bodily functions: From farting to vomiting, he’s joked about it all. But in Click, he reassures his parents his ‘schmekel’—in a nod to Sandler’s Jewish heritage, he uses Yiddish slang for ‘penis’—has gotten bigger since he was smaller. And when they tell him it could not have gotten smaller, he kibbitzes back. He’s a little miffed.
Sandler movies, while oft accused of being vehicles for dumb product-placement, are also silly and sweet coming-of-age stories. The Adam Sandler character is a clown, and as he runs through his emotions, he searches to prove his manhood in the only way he knows how. He bumbles around, sad, angry, and often innocently charming. While the rest of the world mourns Sandler’s Oscar snub for Uncut Gems, I want to reflect upon his roots. And, so, for two whole weeks, I watched those characters run around on screen to find the perfect Sandler flick for every mood, occasion, or whim.
Recommendations: Punch-Drunk Love (2003), Click (2006)
Adam Sandler is a master of schmaltz. Click, which is It’s a Wonderful Life but with Sandler and mid-aughts technology, is the best example. Released at a pivotal point in Sandler’s career, the film marks his transition toward stories of fatherhood. As Sandler speeds through his life with the help of a universal remote handed to him by the always-committed Christopher Walken, we watch music swell and tears fall. We also watch Sandler fart on David Hasselhoff and eat Twinkies.
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), Happy Gilmore (1996)
Zohan is an Israeli soldier-turned-hairdresser/sex worker comedy, and it is as stupid and silly as the premise sounds. At the core of the film, Sandler does a somehow-convincing Israeli accent, turning in a committed performance in what Sandler has professed to be his dream role. Watching him punch, kick, run, and even charm his way around New York City as his hairdresser alter-ego, Scrappy Coco, is absurdly funny and kind of cathartic all at once.
Happy Gilmore also straddles that fine line of hilarity, rocking between angry outbursts and dopey romanticism: Sandler yells through his intercom, angry at his now ex-girlfriend, before mumbling sweet nothings in hopes she’ll return.
“I’m sorry, babe, I didn’t mean that either,” Happy says. “I just yell sometimes because I get so scared, scared of being a nobody.”
Child-like innocence and sweetness
Recommendations: Billy Madison (1995), The Wedding Singer (1998), Big Daddy (1999)
The nineties are quite clearly Sandler’s best period, with his films ranking high atop the list of the most childish many have ever seen. Big Daddy involves Sandler encouraging the Sprouse twins, both playing one boy à la Olsen-Full House, to essentially parent themselves in order to appear responsible and win back his ex-girlfriend.
Billy Madison is possibly the dumbest movie ever made: It’s about a grown man who speaks with a baby affect and must earn his inheritance by speeding through grade school. But, really, its idiocy is its charm.
“My friends or parents would be like, ‘I don’t know. It just seems stupid,’ Andy Samberg told Jesse David Fox of Vulture. “I would always say, ‘Yeah, but [the actors] know it’s stupid. That’s the difference.’”
The tongue-in-cheek nature of Sandler films is done on purpose, and it’s all for our amusement. I deluged my roommate with Adam Sandler movies for nearly two weeks. By the end, I figured he was ready to look at me and say the final line of the most quotable moment in Billy Madison, but he does not. Because he does not think this movie made him dumber; we agree that these movies are legitimately funny.
“Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it,” the school principal tells Billy about a trivia contest answer he provided. “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
May God have mercy on my soul. I did watch Jack and Jill, after all.