Artists Pay Back (The Blog)

June 10, 2011

Adam Sandler doesn’t care about you

Pictured: Adam Sandler not caring

Hey Adam. How’s it going. Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know I’m on to you. I get it, you don’t give a damn anymore. Not that you really should. Clearly it doesn’t matter.

AT&T couldn’t even phone it in as good as you have in your recent movies. Actually, you don’t so much make movies anymore as you do vacation plans. You call up some of your talented friends (and Rob Schneider), pick a cool location (Hawaii, backwoods retreat, etc.), grab a hack director (whoops, sorry, that should read hack director) and start rolling. Plot isn’t that important, so you just reheat a stale sitcom premise – pretending to be married, old dudes reliving past glories, a twin brother and sister (BOTH PLAYED BY YOU!!) and go through the motions. You just crank out the same man-boy, ne’er-do-well schtick (who, incidentally, is still the smartest guy in the room) and wait for the eight figure opening. Rinse. Repeat.

Of course, this formula is working for you. Clearly. So if it ain’t broke, then don’t ever break a sweat. And I know that when you’ve tried to branch out the results have been impressive as an actor but your core “fans” stay away in droves so the movies are deemed flops. It reminds me of John Cusack back in the early nineties. I was working in a video store when a woman came in to return Say Anything. “Did you like it?,” I asked. “No. It wasn’t funny. And I like when he draws the cartoons.” (Further proof that the influence of Savage Steve Holland CAN NOT be underestimated.) This is how many Sandler fans feel about movies like Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me. (For the sake of this argument, we’ll go ahead and ignore Spanglish and the colossal misfire Funny People and focus on the untraditional roles that are actually worth watching.) It’s too bad, because both of those largely ignored (and often derided by your fan base) movies hint at what you might be able to pull off. Punch-Drunk took the latent (or, sometimes outright) rage simmering in most of your characters and turned it into a tragic portrayal of repression while Reign Over Me amped up the sorrow and loneliness behind the rage.

Of course a case can be made that your movies have always been a high-concept, low-brains premise (rich man-child goes back to school, athletic man-child plays golf, backwoods man-child plays football, and so on) but at least there was some anarchic fun about them whereas, with your recent movies, I sense an underlying contempt for the audience. Perhaps there is a sense of annoyance that when you do something outside of your comfort zone it gets ignored or deemed a commercial failure. Maybe you’re annoyed that your fans won’t follow you anywhere (you’re in good company, Bill Murray and Jim Carrey both suffered through this – though Bill finally broke through to much aplomb while Carrey is promoting his newest cautionary-tale, Mr. Popper’s Penguins.) It feels like you’re saying, “You want me to do dumb comedies? Fine, then dumb comedies ye shall have!”

Maybe I’m reading in to it and you’re just trying to give your core fans what they want. I don’t doubt that you’re having fun and being successful at it – not a bad way to make a living. Still, I’d like to see something better. You’re a smart guy and you can be funny (though this is obviously not based on any recent evidence) so how about a little effort. How about stretching those dramatic muscles or putting some actual effort into a comedy script with a fresh idea.

Or not.

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