Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's not's him

Jennifer Aniston (left) and Adam Sandler in "Just Go With It"

Ed here: I've seen maybe half a dozen Adam Sandler movies and thought all of them were poor. Junior high humor and stories built to accomodate gags rather than the other way around (I know, I know--the gags are the centerpieces of many good comedies but not in his case). I didn't even think he was funny on SNL. To me he was about one step up from David Spade, whose continued success baffles me more even than quantam physics. I used to think it was just me...but no, at least a few others find Sandler empty and annoying too. Anyway there's a piece on Sandler in Salon today that I thought was worth reading.

"Just Go With It": Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman and a sheep
The comedian's latest film, "Just Go With It," offers poop jokes, boob jokes -- and Nicole Kidman hula dancing


"Just Go With It" is an Adam Sandler comedy, which means it bears only a superficial relationship to the customary conventions of moviemaking, and also that there's no use getting all worked up about that. Now, those who collect pop culture effluvia in their heads (such as me) will be interested to know that this farce about a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who pretends to be married in order to get laid is in some sense a remake of the 1969 Walter Matthau-Ingrid Bergman-Goldie Hawn movie "Cactus Flower," which was itself based on a play by Abe Burrows which was itself based on a French play. (There will be a quiz.) In other words, Adam Sandler, despite all the all-American gags about poop and men getting kicked in the 'nads, is a cheese-eating surrender monkey who hates our freedom. Any further questions?

It's tempting to suggest that Sandler makes such horrifyingly vacuous films, in which absurd gags float around in a killing void resembling outer space, because he is cynical or does not care. I think this is verifiably false. On the contrary, the marketplace has repeatedly proven that the public prefers Sandler in laid-back, recovering-doofus roles where he barely pretends to act, and where such minimal plot and characterization as exist serve only to get us from one ridiculous comic setup to the next. Occasionally Adam gets the drama-school bug and works with some director who isn't his longtime crony Dennis Dugan, and the results, as in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch-Drunk Love" or James L. Brooks' "Spanglish," are hotly debated by film critics and ignored by everybody else.

for the rest go here:



Cap'n Bob said...

Include me out as a Sandler fan.

Scott Cupp said...

And me as well as the movies of David Spade, Rob Schneider, Ben Stiller and the like. I do not see the comedy in their films. Give me Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges or Cary Grant or the Marx Brothers, anybody who is truly funny.

Matt Paust said...

I thought Sandler's Opera Man schtick on SNL was so dumb I wondered if there was something wrong with me, that I wasn't getting what was supposed to be funny. My wife's said she doesn't think he's funny either, but I wondered if she might have been humoring me. My kids think he's funny, which worries me a tad, so you can understand how relieved I was to read Ohehir's pan and your comments here. Maybe I'm OK after all.

I probly shouldn't admit this, but I've always thought Spade was funny, in a snotty brat sort of way.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Roger Ebert gives the film one star today. Never thought Sandler was funny on SNL-hated operaman.
Ben Stiller can sometimes be funny-I admit to liking Zoolander.
Scott-Three stooges linked with the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy? Thats like putting Freddy & the Dreamers with The Beatles and the Stones.Have you actually watched any 3 Stooges as an adult-not funny.

Ben Boulden said...

I've never thought Sandler was funny. He's films are on my "don't go near there" list.

Anonymous said...

You can add Dana Carvey to the list of comics-I-don't-get also. But guess what, Ed, I was surprised to find that I actually liked Punch Drunk Love. I think it caught me at a moment when my usual cynicism was happens. But Ben and Jerry--Stiller that is--prove that the funny gene is not automatically passed on.
Terry Butler

Randy Johnson said...

Add me to the Sandler hate list as well. Also sign me up for the I-don't-get-Will-Ferrell's popularity club.

Judi Rohrig said...

geez, you guys are making me feel, uhm, like I'm not so wacko after all. I figured I had joined Ned Ludd's Social Club in remembering how funny Red Skelton was. The Honeymooners? Gleason and those eyeballs? Yeah. And I loved to watch Dean Martin's show. My two favorite funny films are Where's Poppa? (Ruth Gordon and George Segal) and Blazing Saddles. But I could never see Sandler, Ferrell, Spade, or Schneider's magic. I also never got Seinfeld though.


Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

I have never watched an Adam Sandler film. Or, for that matter, a Jennifer Anniston film.

I never liked Sandler on SNL and I never watched Friends.

I plan on keeping that streak alive.

BV Lawson said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who is puzzled by the fame and success of Sandler and similar "stars." You know, I think I even understand quantum physics a little bit better than that.

Max Allan Collins said...

Sandler is of the boy-man school, a direct descendent of Jerry Lewis, loved by the French (and me). Some of Sandler's early films were very funny, notably WATERBOY (with Kathy Bates hilarious). Like Lewis, the older Sandler gets, the less the boy-man schtick works, and also like Lewis, the older he gets, the more self-indulgent.

I have no plans to see the Sandler-ized CACTUS FLOWER, but I think he's talented and can be funny, and several of his more serious turns have been first-rate (like that recent film with Seth Rogen for Apatow, name of which escapes me). The hatred for him here seems a little knee-jerk.

Yes, yesterday's humor was great! The Ritz Brothers and Olsen and Johnson will live forever (I bet you think I'm kidding). I am here to tell you that the three funniest men who ever lived were Tim Moore, Curly Howard and Shemp Howard. And I bet Sandler likes all three.

Cap'n Bob said...

Steve, I've been watching the Three Stooges for 52 years and I laugh at them every time. Either I'm a classic case of arrested development or they're funny after all. Heck, both options are probably correct.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, Ed. Your first paragraph echoes whatI've been saying to anyone who would listen since the SNL days. And no, MAC, this isn't a "knee-jerk" reaction. I felt from the beginning that Sandler had zero talent.

In this I was wrong because he can - very occasionally - be funny. (See "The Chanukah Song" for the prime example.) I even enjoyed parts of the ZOHAN movie. (And yes, I love the Stooges.)

But the self-indulgent, middle aged boy who won't grow up thing has gotten old long since. Enough already, please.

As for the others, David Spade makes my skin crawl and I want to reach through the screen and wipe that smirk off his face. People pay him for this. Amazing. Rob Schneider is as bad if not worse. And I just don't get Ben Stiller - never have - though I love his parents.

I guess I'll go back to my seat on the geezer bus now.

Jeff M.

Dave Zeltserman said...

The Boston Globe's review for this was "Just Go Away"

I liked Punch Drunk Love a lot
I liked Waterboy
There was another one I liked with Drew Barrymore. But there are a lot of dumb Sandler movies that are painful to watch.

Interesting (and depressing also) probably more people saw the awful Sandler/Jack Nicholson movie, Anger Management, than any other Nicholson movie--maybe even all other Nicholson movies combined

Max Allan Collins said...

Reflecting, I'd say BILLY MADISON, HAPPY GILMORE and THE WEDDING SINGER are all good comedies. The Apatow film, a little overlong but generally good, is FUNNY PEOPLE -- Sandler's excellent in that.

I understand some people don't get the Three Stooges. My wife (a perhaps rare female who loves the Stooges) and I have been watching one short per evening before watching a film for about the last three months. Curly Howard was a genius, one of the best physical comics ever...and his brother Shemp ran him a close second. If watch the Stooges and it just doesn't register, you have my sincere sympathy. You came to the planet and got short-changed.

Matt Paust said...

Almost forgot. The Sandler/Barrymore movie was 50 First Dates It worked for me. I came in while the kids were watching it and got hooked. Sandler was playing a more sympathetic, lower-keyed role, and the movie was well written.

Also, gotta put in my vote for Ben Stiller. I think he's funny as hell. Haven't seen a movie he's been in yet that I didn't like - altho I'm sure there must be a stinker or two out there.

Oh, and somebody said they didn't like Dana Carvey. Church Lady? George H.W. Bush - "please, please vote for me! You want to see me beg? OK, I'm down on my knees. Pleeeeeeeze..." Peed my pants laffing.

Dave Zeltserman said...

I forgot about The Wedding Singer. that one was also pretty good. Happy Gilmore, while not great, was much better than a lot of the crap he made later. If you go through it, half of Sandler's movies are absolute crap, half are pretty good to better than good. Probably not much different than Steve Martin.

I like Dana Carvey, like his Church Lady, his Garth. Talented guy who saw his career short circuited by health problems.

Mike Dennis said...

Ed--Try PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, a true departure from anything Sandler has ever done. It's a Paul Thomas Anderson film, the guy who made the great films such as BOOGIE NIGHTS, HARD EIGHT, and THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Really, even with Adam Sandler, it's a serious movie.

Charlieopera said...

I can take or leave Sandler and won’t go out of my way to watch him on TV (forget paying for it) ... Will Ferrell is the guy I can’t watch (my kids love him -- and that, too, is painful). Anybody see the Aniston-Sandler super bowl interview? Talk about painful.

Stooges rocked but Curly was the man (some love for the fat guy, how ‘bout it).

I can't quite figure out Anistan, though ... these dopey movies all the time. I thought she did fine with Derailed (was it?).

I became a fan of Ben Stiller (not his movies) after his piece on Extras (Ricky Gervais). That was fucking hilarious.

Deb said...

I've never found Sandler funny and I always thought the Farrell-Sandler-Schneider era of SNL was even worse than the mid-1980s era. That being said, I usually just ignore the ads for his movies; but the ads for "Just Go With It" were so horrendous that I moved from indifference to active dislike. In addition to the male-female beer commercial dynamic (as if a schlub who looks like Sandler would get a second look from the women in that movie unless he was, uh, Adam Sandler), I could predict the whole movie (who couldn't?) within 15 seconds.

Mark Terry said...

Ah, well, more or less on the same train, except I do, as a matter of fact, really like Adam Sandler in serious films--Spanglish and Reign Over Me, which is heart-breaking. I don't like his comedies much, was sort of so-so on Happy Gilmore and liked the conceit of Click until the whole story ran off the rails. I will confess to liking parts of Don't Mess With The Zohan, although for the most part, the parts I liked were verbal jokes rather than the physical humor--like the Hammas Hotline and when his mother responds to his complaint that he's tired of all the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestines: "They've been fighting for a long time, I think they should be done soon."