POSTED May 22 2014

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore: In appreciation

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler clutch MTV awards for "50 First Dates"

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler clutch MTV awards for “50 First Dates”

Most cinephiles operate in a realm where Adam Sandler will never get so much as a hall pass, let alone an acknowledgement — other than a citation for appearing in the auteur-approved  Punch-Drunk Love.

Serious moviegoers will tell you that searching for meaning in an Adam Sandler movie is like looking for a calf underneath the excrement in the Augean stables. So does it mean that I’m frivolous if I say that of the roughly 30 movies in his filmography there are about 10 through which I laughed like a hyena and/or genuinely enjoyed, including Blended, his latest?

Yes, most Sandler productions are over-lit, shoddily-made farces punctuated with startling profanity and Three Stooges nyuk-nyuk physical abuse. But there’s a sweetness and heart behind the slapstick in the trio he’s in with Drew Barrymore (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates, Blended), the Cactus Flower remake, Just Go With It, with Jennifer Aniston, and the Arab/Israeli laffer You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, with Sandler as a Mossad agent/hair stylist who wields Uzi and blow-dryer with equal ease. (I also like James Brooks’ Spanglish, with an unusually subdued Sandler. You can read my review here. And I like Sandler in Funny People, although I have reservations about the movie.)

The Sandler movies I like most are the PG-13 family movies purveying multiple generations and a romantic subplot. He’s been making them since Big Daddy. They are films that appeal to a broad spectrum of the moviegoing audience and one of the pleasures of going to them is the sound of laughter from moviegoers who are 17 and 70. Sandler is old-school, he believes in two contrary ideas: That movies can unify audiences and that different people laugh at different situations so he has to give the audience a variety of comic situations.

Of late there’s been much hand-wringing of late about the death of the romantic comedy. Whoever is kvetching about this obviously is not counting the Sandler/Barrymore films (or Sandler/Aniston or Sandler/Chriqui in Zohan) where Sandler carries the torch for a woman whose engagement to another  or whose short-term memory loss or whose being Arab to his Israeli are obstacles that don’t get in the way of his ardor. By now he and Barrymore have such an easygoing, gentle appreciation of each other, sunshine/storm attitudes and such well-timed repartee that they generate the goodwill and laughter of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.

I ‘m not the only Sandlerophile out here, am I? Cut off the limb I’m on or tell me why you’re with me.


  1. I think this is a kind and accurate summary and appreciation of Adam Sandler’s work. Off-topic, but I also appreciate the fact that he is a low-key, rather dignfied celebrity who seems to stay out of the spotlight and doesn’t constantly harangue the public with his views or preen in that Look At Me, I’m Wonderful way tends to spoil life.

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