On Saturday night, I couldn’t sleep around midnight — so I went and watched Blended on HBOGo. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, it’s an Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore movie (I believe the third one, after The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates). This one, where they end up vacationing together in South Africa, is actually pretty good — although when you say “pretty good,” you often need to add to the end of the sentence, “… for an Adam Sandler movie.”
I started Googling stuff about Adam Sandler as I was watching the movie, and it reaffirmed my underlying belief that he’s an insanely interesting dude in a lot of ways — and that every male in the world in their 30s right now must have some opinion on him, one way or the other.
Let me run down a couple of notes before we talk about his canon:
- His net worth is staggering. For context, he’s worth about $120 million more than George Clooney.
- I used to have this game with friends where I asked: “Out of every celebrity or person in the public view, who would you most like to see profiled by The New Yorker?” You get good answers in this game and you learn a lot about your friends, honestly. People typically say interesting stuff like “John Lewis” but for years, my answer here was “Jay-Z” or “Adam Sandler.”
- The whole notion that Adam Sandler is insanely rich while he makes movies most people crap on — and typically does so with his friends in key roles — is kind of the entire American experience all at once, right?
- I heard a trivia question once, and it might be inaccurate, but the idea was … Since 1980, there are four actors who have 11 films that have grossed over $200 million. Who are they? The answers are: Harrison Ford (naturally), Will Smith (naturally), Tom Cruise (OK), and … Adam Sandler. Again, that might be wrong. But you probably believed it, no?
Here’s what I mean about this “guys in their 30s have an opinion on Adam Sandler” thing: a lot of us grew up with his stuff. But now we wonder — Jesus Christ, what the hell happened?
Per IMDB, Adam Sandler has 55 film credits as an actor (47 as a producer). Among those, here are the movies that people could even make a remote argument are “good:”
- Billy Madison
- Happy Gilmore
- The Wedding Singer
- The Waterboy
- Big Daddy
- Punch-Drunk Love
- Anger Management
- Funny People
Most people probably wouldn’t argue that entire list. But still, that’s 11. That’s 20 percent of his canon, basically — and Madison, Gilmore and Wedding Singer were all relatively close together in the mid-1990s both immediately before and after he left Saturday Night Live.
Also kind of funny, as a brief interlude, that he’s by far the most famous person who was ever on The Cosby Show at this point:
If you want to pinpoint an exact moment when Adam Sandler movies started to kind of crap out, the pendulum point seems to be Little Nicky.
So … the question beckons, then (because I’m a 30-something male, and thus have an opinion on Adam Sandler): Why is he still so relevant? Some ideas:
- He isn’t still relevant.
- It’s because he speaks to the immature adolescent d-bag in all of us, and we secretly chase that from our cubicle, lack-of-purpose existence.
- On that same point, I once met a woman who talked about “Inner Girl,” which is the idea that as women become mothers and then their children get older, they secretly long for some of the joys of being 18-19, etc. That theory halfway explains fan fiction and romance novels, honestly. The male equivalent may explain Adam Sandler.
- He may be the nicest guy in Hollywood, and we have this fascination with this random, not-super-attractive kid from Queens who made it on SNL and then made these huge movies. More here on how nice he is, and below.
- Uh, he makes money.
- A company full of rich douchebags thinks he’s a rich douchebag (even though he made them rich), which is kind of glorious in a roundabout way.
I personally think I could have titled this “Adam Sandler IS America” and it would have felt the same.
Now, whether you’re a 30 year-old male or not … do you have an opinion on Adam Sandler, his career arc, and his films?