Adam Sandler has done some bad things in his career—lest we forget about this fake Dunkin’ Donuts commercial in Jack & Jill, or, for that matter, all of Jack & Jill—and in this day and age, perception of him as a creator is, well, not great. And yet, he’s hard to deny. Sometimes even the bad things he’s done manage to burrow their way into our hearts. Which is why, a day before Sandler’s next movie, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), is released, the Ringer staff has decided to reveal their true selves with a handful of very unpopular Adam Sandler opinions.
‘Little Nicky’ Was Ahead of Its Time
Kate Knibbs: Adam Sandler is many things: a connoisseur of weird-voiced man-children, a bard of fart jokes, a sucker for the acting of Jon Lovitz. But he is also a visionary. Little Nicky, his 2000 flop about the devil’s nice son trying to make it in New York, is a grotesque, high-concept anti-comedy with an unimpeachable soundtrack and the finest Reese Witherspoon cameo of all time. As a movie, it doesn’t work, that much I'll admit—mainly because the jokes just aren’t that funny. But as a gnarly surrealist exercise, it’s a Tim & Eric precursor. There are also little flourishes that still seem contemporary—Nicky was a Popeye’s Chicken obsessive even before Beyoncé told Oprah that she loved the chain in 2003, and trotting out a bee-covered Henry Winkler during Nicky’s final showdown with his evil brothers is so perfectly weird that I’m surprised it hasn’t been remixed into a meme. Little Nicky was made to be made into memes and it should be made into memes. We could use more Little Nicky memes.
‘Just Go With It’ Is Enjoyable
Juliet Litman: There are many egregious ideas baked into Just Go With It, the 2011 movie that also stars Brooklyn Decker as Sandler’s hot love interest and Jennifer Aniston as his best friend and secretary. Aniston pretends to be Sandler’s wife, and the reason is convoluted, to put it mildly. An implication of Sandler and Aniston’s sham relationship is that she is not as beautiful or attention-worthy as Decker. It’s an absurd idea; Jennifer Aniston’s exceptional appearance is obvious. She invented a haircut. Yet, I had a delightful time watching this movie on a transatlantic flight. Nicole Kidman is also in this movie—as Aniston’s rival—and she is married to Dave Matthews, who claims to have invented the iPod. That is also absurd, though not infuriating. This movie makes you mad and then laugh enough times until you just submit to the experience. Just go with it.
‘Click’ Is a Bleak, Genius Film
Miles Surrey: Adam Sandler once made a pretty good episode of Black Mirror, and maybe you watched it. It’s called Click.
If you saw any trailers for this movie ahead of its release, it looked like standard Sandler fare: Christopher Walken gave him a magical remote, and with it he could dick around with random parts of his past and present like a 12-year-old. That meant scenes where Sandler’s character punched David Hasselhoff in the face, and rewound to the first kiss with his wife, who was somehow Kate Beckinsale. But that was only, like, one-third of the movie—the rest of it was a surprisingly depressing spiral that might bring you to tears.
Using and abusing the magical remote meant Sandler’s character, Mike, was essentially on apathetic autopilot for good chunks of his life; for instance, when he wanted to skip ahead to when he can afford new bikes for his kids, he misses an entire year. His dog dies! And though he gets to be the boss of the company he works for, his wife eventually leaves him and takes the kids. He becomes obese and kind of wrinkly (no joke, Click was also nominated for an Oscar for best makeup, a Sandler first). And in Click’s most heart-wrenching scene, Mike finds out that his dad dies after a lengthy fast-forward. Rewinding to their final conversation, when he was on “autopilot”—he can watch, but he can’t change what happened—past Mike doesn’t even make eye contact with his dad, who leaves the room dejected. “You’re pathetic,” Sandler tells himself, which is cathartic.
I get why critics mostly panned Click: Sony wasn’t marketing the existential dread hidden behind the remote puns, and what a mature—and rare—departure it was for Sandler. Considering he would go on to make such hits as Jack & Jill and The Ridiculous 6, Click is an outlier. But maybe it’s also bleakly prophetic.
Adam Sandler Deserved an Oscar for ‘Reign Over Me’
Andrew Gruttadaro: Reign Over Me is about a man who is deeply depressed and struggling to regain normalcy after losing his family on 9/11. Adam Sandler plays that man, and Don Cheadle plays that man’s old college roommate, who helps the former get his life back on track (mostly by reminding him how good of an album Bruce Springsteen’s The River is). It’s a brutally melodramatic movie—the This Is Us of 2007 film, in the way it seems manufactured solely to make you cry. But I have to admit, it’s extremely successful in its mission, and all the credit goes to Sandler.
That’s nearly five full minutes of acting, and Sandler vacillates among being wistfully nostalgic, fighting back tears, and all out blubbering. OK, sure, maybe the accent needed work—but Sandler makes you feel the pain of this guy whose life came crumbling down. He was never gonna win an Oscar in 2007, because Daniel Day-Lewis was in freaking There Will Be Blood, but I honestly believe he should’ve at least been nominated. That year we gave Johnny Depp a nod for Sweeney Todd.
“The Hanukkah Song” Is the Perfect Holiday Anthem
Alison Herman: Part of getting older is accepting that Hanukkah is a dumb holiday. Religion-wise, it’s insignificant; the Festival of Lights’s only virtue is that it happens to fall somewhere around December 25, give or take the fluctuations of the lunar calendar, and was therefore our parents’ only option for a celebration to hype into a competitor (not really) for Christmas. Which is why I’ve never had a problem with Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song,” a knowingly silly, four-minute ditty that rhymes its namesake with “fun-ukkah” and “marijuan-akkah.” Did it deserve an entire animated movie? Absolutely not, but a mindless novelty song is exactly what a mindless excuse to get American kids to stop whining about a lack of presents deserves. (Much to my Gentile friends’ shock, my parents gave up on the gift-giving around 13, when they could tell me to suck it up without feeling too mean.) Besides, what’s more Jewish than doing a head count of famous people and claiming the quarter-Jews for our own? Sandler may not be Larry David or Mel Brooks, but he certainly gets this particular aspect of being a Member of the Tribe.
‘Spanglish’ Is Better Than ‘Punch-Drunk Love’
Justin Charity: Typically, I resist writing about myself in web articles, but it would serve me well in this case. I first saw Spanglish in theaters with two high school friends and our Spanish III teacher. I remember sobbing through a climactic scene where Adam Sandler and Téa Leoni shout at one another about the hell bond that is marriage. The scene informs my fears about marriage and other associated commitment issues that I suffer from to this day. As I drove home alone from Spanglish, I got into my first and so far only automobile accident, which was also memorable. In contrast, the one time I saw Punch-Drunk Love was a year and a half ago at BAM in Brooklyn, where Jon Brion led a live orchestra through the film’s score. The tickets were relatively expensive, and the music was cool, but I don’t remember much of the story, the characters, or even the visual elements. Punch-Drunk Love is a fog to me, whereas Spanglish is a car accident.