How Adam Sandler earned my trust and became one of the most underrated actors of our generation
It’s a Thursday night. My only comfort in quarantine is the sound of gumballs as they hit Adam Sandler’s 1980 Chevy Silverado. “Bedtime Stories” was a staple of my childhood. Looking at our CD case now, worn from coffee spills and careless packaging, I can’t help but wonder, “Who is Adam Sandler, and where is his Oscar?”
For the past week, I have spent my spare time watching a collection of Sandler’s best and worst. Hours of my life, gone, and for what? Was it worth it? Was “Jack and Jill” worth it?! Yes. And I have ended my journey fully believing that Adam Sandler has been disrespected for far too long. I’m writing this article now because our king deserves only the best.
In 1996, “Happy Gilmore” was released in theatres. The then-29-year-old Sandler was just beginning to make a name for himself. He comes off as submissive, as if Hollywood hadn’t yet devoured his soul with a side of fries (as it is known to do). Honestly, this young, innocent version of Adam Sandler had me charmed within the first ten minutes of this movie. He acts as though he is holding back, and yet there is a sincerity in his performance.
Fast forward six years: Adam Sandler stars alongside Emily Watson in “Punch Drunk Love.” I would personally regard this performance as Sandler’s first big move from movies to films (mind the snobbery). It’s a stinging reminder of Sandler’s capabilities. In this emotionally demanding role, Sandler walks the line between manic and depressive like a bipolar funambulist.
“I sometimes cry a lot for no reason,” he says plainly and then effortlessly bursts into tears. It was so endearing; my heart was sufficiently wrenched. Thinking back to “Bedtime Stories,” I then understood the range Sandler was capable of. He immediately earned my respect.
It’s only up from here, right? No. The following two movies were painful for me to watch, and Sandler’s performances were the only silver linings. The year 2006 brought us “Click,” in which he had a shockingly good performance. The script itself was rough, his lines were less than ideal and the plot left a bad taste in my mouth. However, Sandler’s acting is so unapologetic and shameless; he consistently gives 100%. It becomes clear in this movie that Sandler has come a long way since his days in “Happy Gilmore.”
“Click” seems transcendent compared to what follows. In 2011, Adam Sandler starred in “Jack and Jill.” Even though Sandler’s performance is somehow appealing, you can tell he isn’t sure how to act with himself. I don’t blame him for that. Jack is so unfortunate, and Jill is disgustingly convincing. I simultaneously want to vomit and cry. I couldn’t make it through this movie. I think it gave me acid reflux.
Then he did it. Adam Sandler shocked and wowed me. In 2017, he appeared in “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).” He masterfully weaves through line after line of artfully written dialogue and realistic conflicts. Truthfully, I was so lost in his performance that I forgot I was writing this article.
The movie is littered with heartwarming, personal moments between Sandler’s character and his daughter, a huge shift from his previous performances. Yet, his characteristics haven’t drastically changed: his acting style stays consistent, his classic Brooklyn accent and the way he shuffles around. It’s as if Adam Sandler has been a great actor this whole time.
Last year, Sandler took a dramatic turn in his career and starred in the R-rated banger “Uncut Gems.” This. This is his best work. However, when awards season came knocking, what did Sandler get? Not one nomination. I’m seething. Critics can’t seem to forgive Sandler for those years spent pumping out Netflix originals. His performance in “Uncut Gems” is raw, it’s emotional, it’s gut-wrenching. After forty minutes spent at the edge of my seat, my jaw dropped so hard at the ending, I think I may have sprained something.
His performance was so real that I felt obliged to chase it with a bad comedy. So, for old times sake, I rewatched “Bedtime Stories.”
And not once did I regret my decision to do this. I was captivated. I was enthralled. I laughed. I cried. And so did Adam Sandler. He has untouchable versatility, untapped potential and inconceivable power. He has earned my respect. He has earned my trust. He has earned an Oscar, damn it.