What's with Adam Sandler lately? We get the unfunny missed opportunity with 'Grown Ups' last summer, and now 'Just Go With It?' What's happening to the guy who used to deliver comedy after comedy that'd keep us either laughing or disgusted (in a good way) all the way through?
Actually, it looks like the majority of folks out there don't even care much for some of Sandler's previous work because despite his all-star status most of the films responsible for skyrocketing him to fame are, well, pretty rotten. Sandler didn't manage to break into fresh territory on Rotten Tomatoes until 1998's 'The Wedding Singer,' and even then it only earned him a 67%. From there, it was a nine-film gap until his next fresh ratings, 'Punch-Drunk Love' and 'Stupidity' followed by 'Reign Over Me' in 2007 and then 'Funny People' in 2009. Overall, of Sandler's 34 rated films on Rotten Tomatoes, he's earned just five fresh ratings. Otherwise, all his films are rotten, and some very rotten.
The curious thing is, for some, it's natural to look back on some of these supposed rotten films fondly. In fact, as sick as it sounds, a handful of them were personal childhood favorites. Sandler's style of humor is an acquired taste and if you weren't feeling it when 'Billy Madison' hit in 1995, odds are the entire Adam Sandler movement was one entirely rotten experience. Just because these films aren't for everyone doesn't mean they're not enjoyable to some, so here's to the ones buried in thumbs down that still have a lasting positive impact.
'Eight Crazy Nights'
There aren't very many Hanukkah movies out there, so ever since 2002, 'Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights' has become a holiday tradition. It's packed with potty humor and Sandler's typical low blows aiming for laughs, but it's also got some pretty memorable characters and dialogue to boot. When's the last time you've gone to a public bathroom without picturing poor Eleanor wearing the seat cover as a lobster bib? Plus, even with its crude tone, the movie still delivers some rather touching moments and even manages to uphold the holiday spirit.
There's no other way to put it: 'Little Nicky' is a downright dumb movie. But once it's on, there's no shutting it off. As nauseating as it is to watch Sandler run around with that ridiculous haircut and a crooked jaw, there's something endearing about Nicky. As odd and raunchy as the story is, what makes this one work is the performers all believe in it and seem to give 110%, in turn making the audience believe it quite a bit, too. A huge top-notch cast might be considered wasted, but at least their performances and handful of one-liners will be remembered.
One of these things is not like the other and for any Adam Sandler fan, you know it's 'Airheads.' Unlike the rest of the films in this group, 'Airheads' is the only one Sandler didn't write. However, it does have his sense of humor all over it, and out of that absurdity comes a downright hilarious and somewhat suspenseful situation. Sandler, Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi make for an endlessly entertaining trio despite their characters' sheer stupidity.
Bobby Boucher is an absolutely unforgettable protagonist. He's extremely odd and out of control, but quite likable. The story might not entirely make sense, but that's not the point with something like 'The Waterboy.' Everything about it is crazy and unrealistic and that's the whole point. What's wrong with stepping out of the rigid real world for a bit and into the shoes of a slightly-off guy with a passion for H2O? Yet again, Sandler manages to recruit an impressive supporting cast, all of whom give it up for the sake of absurdity ... and it works!
This one still gets me. How does this movie only have a 40% on the Tomatometer? Most of the movies listed here do have some heart despite the ridiculous nature of the material, but this is one that's brimming with emotion. Only Sandler can get you to tear up by showing a kid being taken away screaming, "I wipe my own ass." Some negative reviews isolate the main problem as being the wide gap between Sandler's typical gross-out humor and the film's more sentimental side, but isn't it only natural? Kids puke, they spit and repeat things they shouldn't -- and if one gets taken away by child services it's pretty damn sad. There really isn't too much here that's that out of left field – except perhaps Rob Schneider's character.
This is the quintessential Adam Sandler film. If this film rubs you the wrong way, most of Sandler's work will. All the odds were against this one. It was really the first of its kind and would undoubtedly shock critics and moviegoers alike, but in the best possible way. Maybe 'Billy Madison' isn't a cinematic masterpiece, but how can anyone not enjoy it? We're talking about an overgrown kid going back to school and hanging out with third-graders. Better yet, it's Adam Sandler spending quality time with kids. O'Doyle rules, it's cool to pee in your pants, do you have any more gum? It's unforgettable.
What it comes down to is that these films generally appeal to younger audiences, and now that the 'Billy Madison' and 'Waterboy' generation has grown up, we're the ones who'll never let go and keep the jokes, quotes and memories alive. Critics, on the other hand -- specifically the ones who were submitting to RT back in the 90s -- perhaps were just too mature to appreciate the humor. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that; everyone's entitled to an opinion. But just because some movies don't appeal to the large majority doesn't mean they should be considered "bad movies." Well, unless they're 'Grown Ups' or 'Just Go With It.'