‘Hollywood Mega-Star’ Movie Demerits: Adam Sandler

Many respected and highly paid professions require their practitioners to be highly skilled and reliable at performing the basic aspects of the craft.

In fact it is fair to say that the better remunerated the profession the greater the expectation of quality and superior performance.

You gotta learn your ropes. Crawl before you walk. That sorta stuff.

And in terms of actors you have to appear in some dogs in the early days…

You wouldn’t go to see a doctor that you knew to be unlicensed – unless you were shot while committing a crime I guess – nor would you opt for a flight piloted by someone who flies as a hobby over a trained airline pilot.

I don’t see why one of the most overpaid career choices on the planet get away scot-free again and again. So the other day in a turbulent bout of genius-ness I came up with a revolutionary concept.

Again.

From the guy who gave the world B-Movie Haiku Reviews and more bad Lindsay Lohan jokes than a late night TV host, OGR proudly presents:

Hollywood Star Acting Demerits

That’s right folks. From now on box-office and Metacritic scores be damned, I am personally making some of the Hollywood lollygaggers accountable for poor decision making and for phoning in performances. Whether the film was straight to DVD or unfairly made a bazillion, if one of the leads screwed the pooch we shouldn’t have to stand
for it.

This process is not designed to worry about the poor hardworking paycheque to paycheque character actors or supporting cast members, if you don’t make the poster on most films in which you appear then the system should eventually either eject you or elevate you to Buscemi-like status (more respected / lower paid). This process is for the guys n gals who normally appear smack dab in the middle of the poster, the guys n gals who are interviewed on red carpets and are driven to various premieres and public appearances to stare blankly at your gushing fans unless cameras are pointed at you.

The System

The system is harsh but fair; everyone starts with the same number of points in the black, a bad performance costs you points depending on factors including:

  • the general stinkiness of the movie
  • whether you were trying or not
  • whether the movie was taking a chance or not
  • what was expected from the movie, a big budget stinker counts worse than a low budget indie stinker
  • how long it has been since your last bona fide quality film
  • whether you are Shia Le Bouf

Once you lose a point or points there is only one way to make it back – no regaining points after a period of time here – the only way to regain points on your license is to earn them through solid performances in decent films. Again being ‘adequate’ or even merely ‘good’ isn’t going to cut it here in the real world, adequacy and goodness are expected not lauded, you really need to pull something out of the bag to justify me tacking a point or two back onto your sheet.

To summarize; everyone starts with a clean sheet and twelve shiny points, the early movies in a star’s career are treated as Learner’s permit freebies. It is only when they strike big that the burden of consistent worthiness comes crashing down upon their shoulders.

Last time we looked at Kal-El’s dad himself Mr Nicolas Cage, whose quite baffling run of straight up mediocrity suggests that he has secured his last 10 jobs or so on the strength of name recognition alone. I mean how else can you explain a 5 year resume with 15 big budget films where his only two critical successes were when he was required to act nuts (Bad Lieutenant) and had his smallest role (Kick-Ass), the other 13 films sucked, were Ghost Rider, or in the unfortunate case of two films, both.

But enough about Cage, there’s another bunny casually hip-hopping across the road right in front of us. A bunny that for too damn long has been a protected species simply because he knows just how undeserving of all this praise, fame, money and adulation that he receives.

  • The man who wears T-shirts and ratty pants to interviews because he is ‘just like you and me’.
  • The man who hires his friends constantly, leading to ‘careers’ for Rob Schneider, Allen Covert, Peter Dante et al. (Yep me neither…), and ‘hilarious’ turns by Jack Nicholson (no), Harvey Keitel (meh), Al Pacino (no) and John Turturro (OK that’s one).
  • The man who was inexplicably likable for a long while even in terrible movies simply because he refused to show himself in a bad light even on film for so very long.
  • The man who has reigned as the King of Comedy for many years now (alternating with *Bleh* Will Ferrell) despite the fact his only decent films in over a decade were for the most part dramas.
  • The man who for mine peaked with his second headline role as Happy Gilmore – and hasn’t made anything remotely bearable since.
  • The man who I deliberately stopped watching several years ago, once I realized that he simply did not care about appearing in quality films.

It’s one thing to run around and have a good time without responsibility, quite another to fool millions of casual filmgoers into shilling their hard earned to finance your laziness simply because you grin on the poster.

Ladies and Gents,

Mr Adam Sandler

Like many comedians Sandler was an up and comer on Saturday Night Live in the early 90s, amusing with his mugging, voices, silly songs and unexpected rage for comedy purposes. Billy Madison was simply awful but funny enough in a juvenile way to apparently raise more than one Hollywood eyebrow. Having already tested the waters with small roles in Airheads (pretty good) and Mixed Nuts (yawn) the likeable and self deprecating Sandler was gifted a tab for a few years to see what he might come up with.

The Rise to ‘Mega-Star dom’

The result was a three year period where he was inexplicably ushered into the upper echelons of comedy by a public won over by the voices and silliness. A public desperate for a new hero given that Eddie Murphy’s star was fading and Steve Martin and Bill Murray were no longer the ‘edgy choices’ they once were.

Happy Gilmore was critically panned but undeniably funny and eminently quotable. It was immediately adopted by teens and twenty-somethings as our version of ‘if you don’t laugh, you don’t get it and can’t be one of us’. The Wedding Singer capitalized on Drew Barrymore’s rise to America’s kooky sweetheart and a country reminiscing fondly about the 80s setting, and The Waterboy struck big with another unlikely character triumphing against the odds.

Might I say here that I fucking HATED The Waterboy and have not seen it in 15 years for fear of just how right I think I am. But it seems that I was at the time in the minority, so with mass approval and box-office success in the back pocket, Sandler duly gets his retrospective Mega-Star License in 1998.

We wish him all the best. Buckle up and act safely.

In the late 90s and early dubbos a new Sandler movie was a no brainer, even if the movie was bland and forgettable – and most were – you would line up regardless. They were also good date movies, as although he was noisy and occasionally offensive Sandler simply refused to allow any of his characters to be truly deplorable or unlikable. Nig Daddy wasn’t a natural Father figure but dang did he not try hard? Little Nicky was a awkward voiced loser –with a heart of gold folks! And the whole point of Mr Deeds was that he was an all round good guy regardless of the situation, someone you, me and everyone else should aspire to be.

Just like Sandler planned it. The critics never took the films to their bosom, but for the most part they made buttloads of money thanks to the fact that Sandler rarely employed costly special effects, action or even big name guest stars, preferring to use his standard crew of character actors and his mates.

Now, temporarily at least, critic-proof and with the Mega-Star license burning a hole in his board shorts’ pocket, let’s give Mr Sandler his 12 points and use our retrospective  fine system of 1 through 3 point demerits depending on the severity of the transgression. General adequacy and strong performances are not praised unnecessarily here, merely expected from someone who makes millions without ever breaking a sweat.

A Stalled Career

You’re young, rich and famous. What do you do with your first real celebrity indulgence?

Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights

Apparently you use your name recognition to make a terrible animated comedy that pokes fun at religion while simultaneously exploring every bodily function in the name of supposed comedy.

I never saw it and never will. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know. I’ll be nice for now.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining: 11

Punch-Drunk Love

I absolutely detested this film, which placed Sandler as a possible sociopath-slash-loathsome stalker and somehow drew critical acclaim for his ‘seriously kooky’ turn.

I still hate the film, but I’ll allow it on the basis of confusion.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 11

Anger Management

Look I didn’t bother. The poster told me everything I needed to know about the film. Perhaps I was wrong, but I refuse to care.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 11

Spanglish

As an everyman dad who is conflicted in his marriage (to Tea Leoni – I can see that) and confused by his attraction to housekeeper Paz Vega (I can definitely see that!), Sandler isn’t called upon to be hilarious, mug for the camera or do much of anything aside from looking perplexed and horny in proper proportions.

Perhaps his perfect role. It wasn’t funny, I liked it anyway.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 11

50 First Dates

Re-teamed with Drew Barrymore. We are now expected nay ordered, to swallow yet another memory loss means these two must fall in love whilst experiencing kooky situations.

Never seen it. Know it’s lazy formulaic crap.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.             Points remaining: 10

The Longest Yard

Didn’t see it. Rob Schneider is in it. Desperate for fame Courtney Cox got her tits done and played a bitch. Numerous character actors were given inane dialogue. Rob Schneider is in it.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.            Points remaining: 9

Click

I knew this was a total dog when months before it was released the marketers put an absolute full court press on the public with competitions and ad after ad. Of course two weeks after it was released it was gone from cinemas and forgotten, after all it is a film about a man who learns he can control everything around him with a remote control…

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.             Points remaining: 8

I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry

Really? It’s still funny to have two straight dudes playing gay dudes? I mean Really?

Verdict: 2 Points deducted.             Points remaining: 6

Quick update: Sandler converted his Mega-Stardom into a 9 film stretch with one good one, one that I loathe (but critics love) and six or seven dogs depending on your viewpoint.

By the way, his box-office for the 5 year run? Almost 800 million.

The Revival

Reign over me

I’ll actually be damned if Adam Sandler isn’t a decent actor, Reign over me is hardly a crowd pleaser – it grossed under 20 mill – but it was well made and well acted. Cheadle helped sure, but Sandler held his own even in the heaviest scenes.

I still think Punch-Drunk Love sucks balls, but I will defend Reign over me and heartily recommend it.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.               Points remaining: 6

Bedtime Stories

A Jumanji style movie where fictional characters come to life? Wellllll…. Apparently it was a kid’s flick so I’ll allow it. Barely.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.              Points remaining: 6

You don’t mess with the Zohan

Let’s check them off. Offbeat character? Buddies in supporting roles? Bawdy without ever crossing lines? Juvenile humour?

Check. Check. Check and my lord Check. I’ll forgive it because as I said at the time at least he tried.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 6

Grown Ups

Sandler and a bunch of his buddies make a movie where they get to be a bunch of buddies. On holiday. In exotic locations. I haven’t seen it but apparently they are the only ones laughing – at the folks who lined up to see it…

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining:5

Funny People mystified some and divided the rest, I thought the film was so-so but Sandler’s character was reprehensible. Others thought it was pretty good. For the most part paying viewers stayed away.

Looking at what follows it seemed to me that Sandler decided ‘Why bother trying when I can make money just by doing this?’

As a comparison, it took Nicolas Cage twice as long to build the undeserved ‘cred’ to sleepwalk this blatantly. 

The Middle Age Spread / Just Pay Me

Zookeeper

Another kid’s flick – I hope. Sandler voices a monkey. I guarantee he doesn’t disguise his voice or act in any way, so that the viewer can elbow his/her mate and whisper ‘That’s Adam Sandler’, like it somehow validates the film.

I want to deduct like a mo-fo, but won’t someone think of the children?

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 5

Jack and Jill

Let’s see here; we’ve done the kid’s film to death, we’ve dabbled in serious, we’ve done every mildly retarded character known to man, we’ve done pretend gay… have we done pretend girl yet?

Done and done. This egregious blight on humanity carries on the amazing hot streak of other such immortal cross-dressing classics like To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything. Julie Newmar, Nuns on the Run (actually OK) and White Chicks… Plus it revived Katie Holmes career… (Wait it didn’t?) and provided me with a reminder that perhaps Mr Al Pacino might warrant his own Acting Demerits countdown one day.

Despite all this it made more money than Funny People and Reign over me combined. I almost agree with Sandler when he thinks ‘why try?’.

Verdict: 3 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 2

Just go with it

A title that was more for the audience than a description of the film. I’d hand down a harsher penalty if it wasn’t for the fact that I want to leave the audience on tenterhooks as to what might happen next.

But let’s be serious. We know that the inevitable will take place later in 2012 or just maybe in early 2013 if Sandler decides to take a well earned holiday from screwing over moviegoers.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining: 1

Sandler, I’m all out of ways to describe your laziness and frankly, theft of the hard earned dollars of the more easily pleased members of the unfortunate public, people who can waste $20 and the next day pleasantly tell friends and co-workers that ‘It could have been worse’ without feeling homicidal.

The cold hard fact is that in the last 10 years Adam Sandler has starred in over 15 films, on average the Rotten Tomatoes score has suggested one in three critics found each film worthwhile. Might I weigh in and say that I would recommend but two from those 15, both films where Sandler isn’t required to attempt the audience to find reason for amusement?

Again despite all protestations and feedback these films have grossed well over a BILLION DOLLARS!!!

That’s my Boy opened a couple days ago. Sandler will be playing Andy Samberg’s dad in what is loosely described as a comedy. I won’t be seeing it.

I have a strong suspicion that shortly after that we’ll be sending the repo boys around to take back that license of yours…

Last chance Mr Sandler.

I only wish it were that easy. Putting these lists together usually results in me being inspired to look up films I haven’t seen in a while, aside from Happy Gilmore (which should always be checked out regularly) I came up with nothing here.

Look at least Nicolas Cage mixes up the genres for his increasingly terrible films AND is insane enough in real life to suggest that he genuinely has no idea how bad things have become. Sandler, if you really think you are genuinely a nice everyday guy surprised by all the fame and fortune, please, stop stealing our money with your shit films.

Just because people keep paying to watch doesn’t mean it isn’t theft.

OGR

P.S. And stop producing your talentless buddies’ crapfests too. You are responsible for Deuce Bigalow, Joe Dirt, The Master of Disguise, Grandma’s Boy and Bucky Larsen. So much for being nice!

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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2 Responses to ‘Hollywood Mega-Star’ Movie Demerits: Adam Sandler

  1. Mike Orbit says:

    Cant see how you can bash on Adam Sandler when you blatantly state that you have not watched the movies you deduct points from.

    Technically, you’re unqualified in the simplest of ways.

  2. OGR says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Ironically your partially thought out reasoning seems to fly in the face of Sandler’s ill conceived plots and ‘jokes’.

    Indeed I have purposefully avoided many of Sandler’s latter day excretions… ahem efforts. I can’t wait to hear your impassioned defence of That’s My Boy, or why Click is an incisive piece of modern day cinematic artistry.

    Talk about Sandler taking chances and showing range! What’s that? His next film is with Drew Barrymore and looks the quirky tale of mismatched romance?

    Gee it seems even Sandler is against you.

    Thanks for reading.

    OGR

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