Top 11 Good Adam Sandler Movies
January 16, 2018
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. You know... (a shot of Adam Sandler appears in the corner) I pick on this guy a lot.
(Footage of various Adam Sandler movies are shown)
NC (vo): Don't get me wrong, a lot of Adam Sandler films are awful to sit through, coming across as lazy, unfunny, and even annoying. But I forget sometimes that this is a mad, talented person. His songs can be great; his unexpected delivery can get a huge laugh; even dramatically, he can not only be good, he can be really good. Sometimes, we let the worst of someone's work overshadow the good, and Adam Sandler does have a healthy amount of good work he's left behind. That's why I'm gonna give credit where credit's due and count down his top 11 best films–
(The audience is heard groaning and protesting, annoying NC)
NC: Oh, I see. You don't think I can make it to top 11, can you?
NC: Well, you know what? I'm gonna show ya!
NC (vo): They don't have to be masterpieces, they don't have to be groundbreakers, they just have to be worth the ticket fee to see them on the big screen. And you know what? Not only do I believe there's eleven, I believe there can be even more in the future.
(In the corner, a teaser poster for the upcoming movie Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation appears)
NC: (crossing his fingers and closing his eyes) Please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck...
NC (vo): So, without further ado, I'm paying tribute to a flawed but still talented performer.
NC: This is the Top 11 Best Adam Sandler Movies! (audience groans again) THERE ARE ELEVEN!!
(Cut to a black-and-white clip of Sandler playing a guitar, as the title for this video appears over him; this will be the interlude footage throughout the video)
NC (vo): Number 11: Airheads.
NC: Hey, like I said, they don't all have to be masterpieces!
NC (vo): This is a cute comedy with a lot of character actors that were soon gonna be big stars, including Sandler, Brendan Fraser, and Steve Buscemi. The three of them play band members of a group called The Lone Rangers. The name alone is already a beautifully stupid contradiction. Trying over and over to get their band heard, they end up taking over the local radio station, holding it hostage, only to have their cassette of their music be destroyed before playing it. So...shit. They're stuck there for no reason, not knowing what to do. But the attention gets a lot of headbanger fans to surround the building, saying "Fight the establishment", all while they're trying to figure out how the hell to get out of there. A simple idea with simple jokes, but they're still effective. The actors all have a dim-witted charm to them, the commentary is obvious, but still clever, and the laughs, while not knee-slappers, do still get plenty of chuckles. It's honestly a totally fine movie satirizing fame and media attention, but this time with the heavy metal world. It's totally serviceable. Not a glowing endorsement, but if somebody asked if I'd recommend it, I'd say sure. Like I said, not a glowing endorsement, but a decent flick.
NC (vo): Number 10: You Don't Mess With the Zohan.
NC: This movie is just the right amount of silly.
NC (vo): From visual jokes to funny actors to a downright bizarre premise. Sandler plays an Israel army commando who takes down terrorists, but is sick of his way of life. He fakes his own death so he can follow his real dream, which is...hairdresser. Yep. He becomes a stylist in New York and is apparently really good at it. He even has the skills to take care of critics who are either too harsh on him or his customers.
(A scene showing Zohan beating up a man by kicking him in the face is shown)
Zohan: Here comes the double foot. (Kicks the man with both his feet in one swift move, then pushes his foot into the man's face) Smell it, smell it, smell it. Now take it. (Kicks the man again) That's for you.
NC (vo): Of course, when the bad guys find out he's still alive, they try to hunt him down, and obviously, hilarity ensues. Oh, and I don't mean that sarcastically. I think this film is legitimately hilarious. It was written by Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel, Courage the Insult Comic Dog. It's totally in bad taste from beginning to end and doesn't give a shit about it at all, mostly because it knows it's a dumb, silly comedy, but has a ton of fun with it. The humor ranges from weird to...really weird. There is something so zany and over-the-top about this movie that even when a joke doesn't work, it's so surreal, you can't help but still kind of giggle at it.
(A scene showing Zohan facing Fatoush "Phantom" Hakbarah, who's standing upside down on the roof, is shown)
Phantom: No one can catch Phantom! Whoo! (Begins running towards a church window while yelling)
NC (vo; laughs): What the hell is going on? This is one of those films that got panned by critics, but in my opinion, it still brings the laughs. It's idiotic and won't further anyone's understanding of the world, but screw it. It's just friggin' funny. And that's enough for me.
NC (vo): Number 9: Reign Over Me. This is one of those Sandler movies that flew in under the radar. While certainly uneven, most people agree this film has difficult emotions being tackled and a resolution that's not always clear and easy to understand. Sandler plays Charlie, a man who lost his family in 9/11 and shuts himself off from the world. His college roommate, played by Don Cheadle, meets him by chance and sees how far he's slipped from reality. He tries befriending him to make things better, discovering that things in his life aren't always that great either. The more time they spend with one another, the more they find they're both making things better and worse for the other. The film got mixed reviews when it came out, which is not surprising, as the movie is kind of a mixed bag. It does sometimes feel forced and a little off, but the reviews were still mostly positive, and I think that's what you can call it: Mostly positive. Even people who didn't like it had to admit there were still strong moments from both Cheadle and Sandler, giving an interesting and troubled look at two lives who are lost for two very different reasons. I see the problems with it, but I still think the good stuff is too good to overlook. For the number of times it plays it safe, there's just as many times it takes a risk. If anything else, it's good acting from a good cast, proving once again Sandler can hold his own, even against cinematic greats like Cheadle. If you haven't already, take a look. It's worth it in the end.
NC (vo): Number 8: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). This Netflix movie came out in 2017 and had quite the cast, including Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson, and Dustin Hoffman. The film centers around the Meyerowitz dysfunctional family and how the extremely eccentric father, played by Hoffman, affected the lives of his kids, played by Sandler and Stiller.
NC: And that's...really about it.
NC (vo): More of a character study than a plot-driven movie, but these characters are interesting in how flawed they are. Stiller is the successful businessman who hates everything his father stands for, while Sandler is more loving towards his dad, but is also very lost emotionally and financially. The two of them butt heads a lot throughout the film, and they're both phenomenal. Stiller gives a gut-wrenching speech near the end, and Sandler is so natural and believable, it doesn't even feel like a performance. It just feels like you're watching the troubles of a real guy. The film itself can get a little grating due to Hoffman as the father, but to be fair, I think that's kind of the point. And I'd be lying if I said I was totally satisfied to what it all amounts to, but it's still reasonably well done and feels very real, particularly with the performances. In my opinion, I think it might even be Sandler's best acting. I never once felt like he was lying or acting, it felt 100% real. It's a unique film with some unique talent giving us some unique characters.
NC (vo): Number 7: 50 First Dates. While it does have a lot of groaner moments and awkward jokes, the comedy, romance, and ideas that do work in the film far overpower the ones that don't. It's just a clever idea that surprisingly leads to some likeable chemistry. Sandler plays a veterinarian who falls in love with a seemingly charming woman, played by Drew Barrymore. The next day, however, she completely forgets who he is. Why? Well, she has short-term memory loss. So her recollections only go as far as 24 hours. So, every time Sandler sees her, he has to either tell her who he is, or even more awkwardly, come up with different ways for them to meet each time. Her family wants him out of the picture, though, as they like not having to tell her every day about her condition, saving her the emotional stress. Sandler can't help but still feel something for this person, though, despite the fact that she keeps forgetting who he is. The chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore is adorable, believable, and, yes, even funny. She does a great job selling that she's never seen Sandler before over and over and over. This could get old very fast, but she brings both the comedy and the humanity to it. On top of that, Sandler coming up with new ways to try and explain or even trick her into going out with him not only shows his comedic side, but also how much he cares about wanting to be with her. I especially like the ending, which, not to give anything away, but they don't just cure the illness. They do have to acknowledge the problem for the rest of their lives. Most comedies like this would have the problem solved by the end, but they go that extra mile in trying to be both delicate and creative in living with the disorder. It's a crazy romance that surprisingly has just as much heart as farts.
NC: (sighs) Did I really just make that joke?
NC (vo): Number 6: The Wedding Singer.
NC: So, yeah, the '80s are everywhere now. Everyone referenced it, it's practically become a cliche.
NC (vo): But Sandler was one of the earliest people to poke fun at it, waiting only eight years to understand what made it stand out compared to modern day. He plays a wedding singer who's jilted at the alter, and starts turning into an angry, bitter drunk. But a waitress, played by Drew Barrymore, seems to help turn things around. The only downside is, she's marrying a jerk, and, yeah, you know where this is going. It's every '80s romantic comedy that, while following some cliches too close to the letter like having the fiancee be an unfunny jerk, still manages to work with it okay because, well, it is a satire of the '80s. Was it intentional? Probably not. But it works the same way Demolition Man is perfectly representing the '90s without even knowing it. The comedy gets a lot of laughs. I think everybody who watched this movie has lines they quote from it.
(Various memorable scenes are shown, starting first with Robbie's falling out with Linda)
Robbie Hart: Things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!
(A scene showing Robbie at a bank is shown next)
Bank manager: Do you have any experience?
Robbie: I'm a big fan of money. I like it, I use it, I have a little.
(Lastly, a scene showing wedding singer Jimmie Moore (Jon Lovitz) witnessing Robbie's performance of "Somebody Kill Me" is shown)
Jimmie Moore: He's losing his mind...and I'm reaping all the benefits. (Smiles creepily as he closes the curtain he's standing behind)
NC (vo): And once again, the romance is very sweet. Barrymore and Sandler have great chemistry, and this is where it all started. Yeah, it's manipulative and contrived, but it's the same way shitty Christmas rom-coms are now. You kind of accept how stupid they are and have fun with them. And seeing how this is a throwback to the '80s, doesn't it kind of make sense? It's a lot of fun with just enough heart to make it work. This is a predictable yet enjoyable film that still lasts long after the '80s.
NC (vo): Number 5: Happy Gilmore. Yeah, it's stupid, yeah, it's immature, yeah, it's every dumb sports movie cliche in the world.
NC: (shrugs) But it's funny.
NC (vo): Sandler plays a hockey player named Happy, who, unfortunately, sucks at what he does. But when he discovers he has a great arm for golf, suddenly, he realizes he can make enough money to save his grandmother's house.
NC: Because of course there's a grandmother's house.
NC (vo): But the nasty, mean bully...
NC: Because of course there's a nasty, mean bully.
NC (vo): ...wants to stop him from stealing the spotlight as well as his hot girlfriend who's in love with him.
NC: Because of course there's a hot girlfriend who's in love with him.
NC (vo): Again, this is not a particularly story-based comedy. The focus is on Sandler's attitude and the attitude of the people around him. As phoned-in as these characters are written, they're played by very funny people. The angry nurse at the old folks' home is played by a hilarious Ben Stiller, Apollo Creed himself, Carl Weathers, plays a great bitter coach, and Christopher McDonald might play one of the funniest bullies in sports film history.
Shooter McGavin: Well, moron, good for Happy Gilmo-- (Sees that the person behind him is a tough guy, stunning him) Oh, my God!
NC (vo): This is such a throwaway role, but he adds a delivery and energy that makes him a comedic foil who's just as much fun as the comedic leads.
Shooter: (to Happy) I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast. (Chuckles and begins to walk away)
Happy Gilmore: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?
(Shooter turns to look at Happy, stunned and confused)
Shooter: ...No. (Tries to say something, but ultimately walks away, feeling embarrassed)
NC (vo): Add on top of that the funniest cameo of Bob Barker ever, a beautifully long list of completely meaningless deaths, and enough lines to quote for years to come...
Happy: (Speaking angrily to a golf ball next to a hole) Why don't you just go home?! That's your home! Are you too good for your home?!
NC (vo): ...Happy Gilmore is just a fun, dumb flick. As the typical Adam Sandler movie formula goes, this one arguably did it the funniest.
Happy: (After beating Bob Barker in a fight) The price is wrong, bitch.
NC (vo): Number 4: Punch-Drunk Love. Though a big hit with critics, audiences seem to either love or hate this film. Personally, I think it's so strange, so mysterious, and so well-acted that I can't help but love it.
NC: Even though, I'll be the first to admit, I have no idea what it means.
NC (vo): Sandler plays a man named Barry, a quiet, awkward, reserved, yet totally impulsive outcast who's emotionally abused by his sisters and is being scammed and robbed by a call girl service. As things get stranger and stranger, a kind woman named Elizabeth, played by Emily Watson, enters his life and finally starts to give it purpose. From there, just weirdness. All sorts of weirdness. This was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the same guy who did Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and There Will Be Blood, so that gives you an idea of the strange arthouse nature that lies ahead with this film. What's the point of it? Why does it exist? Why is everything in it so odd and unexplainable? I don't know. But it draws you into where you kind of are okay with not knowing. Between Sandler's brilliant acting, the surreal atmosphere, and just downright bizarre method of storytelling, it truly is a one-of-a-kind film you're either gonna get into or you're not. Personally, I loved every minute of it. And a lot of that does come from Sandler, who carries a lot of this film with his performance. It's a totally out there experience, but still has me fascinated every time I see it.
#3 & #2Edit
NC (vo): Number 3 annnnd Number 2: Hotel Transylvania and Hotel Transylvania 2.
NC: Yeah, you might as well lump these two together.
NC (vo): The Hotel Transylvania movies are beautifully animated, extremely funny, incredibly charming, hugely creative, and carry a surprising amount of heart. Every release gets trashed by critics, and I still don't understand why. They're great for kids, great for adults, wonderfully written, and wonderfully voiced, with Sandler almost unrecognizable as Dracula. In a world terrified of monsters, Sandler as Dracula builds a hotel for all the famous Halloween freaks to come and relax. His daughter Mavis, though, is growing restless and wants to see the world. Dracula is too afraid of what will happen to her, though, due to what happened to his wife who was killed by an angry mob. But when a young traveler visits, telling her the world isn't what she thinks it is, a drift builds between the two of them, and the monsters witness the real scares with the horrors of parenting. These films were directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack, and they have his stamp all over them. They're fast, they're energized, they're brilliantly designed, they throw a ton of various jokes at you, and they surprisingly can be very moving. Both films are fantastic at portraying very relatable family problems, while also getting tons of laughs based off of these hilarious characters. These movies are becoming new staples of Halloween. You just look at them and you get excited for the holiday...which is strange, seeing how the third one is coming out in summer, but...
NC: I guess we can buy it around Halloween?
NC (vo): Hopefully, it's as good as the other two, because these films are incredibly funny as well as heartwarming. Despite what critics say, this is a series of movies I predict are going to get more and more popular with every passing Halloween season.
(A scene from the second movie, showing Dracula, his grandson Dennis, and the entire Drac Pack, all sitting together on a motorbike driven by Blobby the blob, is shown)
Count Dracula: Hit it!
(Blobby starts the bike, but due to the massive weight of Dracula and his friends sitting on the bike, it is driving extremely slowly)
NC (vo): And the number 1 best Adam Sandler movie is... Funny People.
(NC puts his finger up at the camera)
NC: Hear me out.
NC (vo): Funny People got mixed reviews when it was released, and most audiences left not really enjoying it all that much. But under this seemingly pointless story lies an interesting subtext if you connect it to Sandler's life, which you could argue the movie was doing already. Sandler plays a comedic movie star named George Simmons, but...let's be honest, he's playing Adam Sandler. He used to be a standup, turned into a movie star, and his films seem like quickly-turned-out fluff that somehow make a lot of money. He gets a shock, though, when he discovers he has leukemia. Thinking his days are numbered, he goes back to standup, where he meets a writer, played by Seth Rogen, who also does standup. The two of them form a friendship, despite the fact that Sandler doesn't always treat him that great, but...he's dying. What can you do? Well, suddenly, halfway through the movie, his leukemia is cured. Yeah, complete recovery and everything.
NC: (looks confused) So...where does the film go now?
NC (vo): Well, it's the same question the characters ask. Now that Sandler is better, he feels he can still be a dick and ignore all the mental pain he was confronting. But Rogen tells him it isn't, and shouldn't, be as easy as all that. The two go back and forth between respecting each other and hating each other, ultimately resulting in an ending that...honestly doesn't resolve that much. If anything, it indicates that much of these actions will be repeated in the future and the changes made, if any, are very minimal.
NC: So...this is kind of really friggin' interesting.
NC (vo): The comedy is decent and the acting from everyone is once again great, but, really think about it. If this character is supposed to be Sandler, why do half of these choices happen? We've seen films like Top Five or Lost in Translation or 8 Mile where we know they're semi-autobiographical around the person playing them. So, why would Sandler have himself be such a jerk, a jerk who's dying, no less? Sandler is said to be one of the sweetest celebrities in Hollywood, yet he portrays himself as a lost asshole who rarely learns his lesson. Why would the film be so similar to his life in other aspects, but not here?
NC: The short answer is: I don't know. But...it's interesting to think about, isn't it?
(Three images from the Rocky movies are shown; the movie poster of the first movie, the image of Paulie's robot from Rocky IV, and the movie poster for Creed)
NC (vo): The same way the Rocky movies kind of reflected Stallone's career, the underdog becoming a star, turning into a joke, then balancing out in his old age.
(Back to Funny People)
NC (vo): The same way we might see kind of a reflection here. Sandler's comedies, even he acknowledges sometimes, have little-to-no substance. He even says sometimes, they're done just so he can vacation somewhere. Yet, he still makes them that way while also trying more experimental roles. Could it be this is how he sees himself, as somebody who is successful in some ways but lost in others? Is it an exaggeration of what he thinks he could become, has-been or currently is? Maybe it's a cautionary tale for not just others, but himself as well. Like I said, this is speculation. I have nothing to back this up. But why have the character's career be so eerily similar? Like any intriguing piece of art, I don't always know what the artist's intent is, but what it reflects is even more fascinating. The film is such a strange blur of fact and fiction that you can't always pinpoint what's supposed to be real and what isn't. If Sandler didn't play him in this movie, the film wouldn't be as relevant, but...he does. Why? Why pick a role so seemingly similar to him, and yet, in many other respects, so seemingly the opposite?
NC: It's a question I don't know if I'll ever fully get the answer to, but it's also a question I don't fully need the answer to, or even want.
NC (vo): The mystery of it is far more engaging. It's like a Rorshach test of how much of the actor and his career you see in the role, and it can be a surprisingly compelling take to give in your point of view. I can't act like I know this was the intention, but the ideas are planted, and they're worth talking about. In a weird way, this Sandler movie, more than any other, asks the most questions. It makes you think the most. And given the actor's background of movies, the one that makes you think the most is the one I'm gonna put as #1 any day. Funny People is a fascinating reflection. We just don't always know of exactly what.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (Gets up and leaves, then suddenly comes back) I GOT TO ELEVEN! HA...!!
(The credits roll)