I've got some pretty deep issues with you. Many people have told me to get some therapy, but I figured I should eliminate the middleman and go directly to the source. I've not only despised your films for years, I've taken personal offense at just how painfully, exceptionally unfunny they are. But last night, at the screening for your latest dropping, Blended, I had what is known in the head-shrinking biz as a "breakthrough." As a result, I'm feeling pretty raw right now, and all the experts say the best way to work through personal issues is to write a letter. I don't expect you to have all the answers I'm looking for. I don't even expect you to respond. What I need is for you to just listen.
Until last night, I had assumed there were two types of people in the world; people who think you're funny, and people who haven't suffered traumatic brain injury. But then it hit me: you don't make your movies for me. I'm not your target demo. I'm not a fourteen year-old boy, I haven't just woken up from a lifelong coma, nor am I currently drunk, stoned, or hungover. If you think that makes me sound like a film snob, you're partially right; I do favour darker and more challenging fare than what you tend to deliver. But some of my favourite guilty pleasure comedies came from your fellow SNL alums; Joe Dirt, Wayne's World, and Night At The Roxbury--just to name a few. I have a soft spot for dopey underdog movies, which is why I even loved The Wedding Singer. When I'm flipping through the TV and it's on, I'll watch it every time. Likewise, when I flip through the channels and see anything you've made since, I turn off the TV and read a book in hopes of combating the inevitable drop in IQ.
So if you're not making movies for me, who are you making them for? Your fans. The kind of people who go to see their favourite band in concert and get upset if they don't sound exactly like they do on the album. People with certain - let's call them "lowered" - expectations. With Blended, you give 'em all the hits.
You play a recently widowed dad and Drew Barrymore plays a recently divorced mom. You meet on a disastrous first date and begrudgingly reunite a couple of weeks later with your kids at an African resort during their annual "Blended Family Week." What happens next is exactly what anyone who has ever seen one of your movies knows is going to happen. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen it all.
I sat in that darkened theatre last night and I've never felt more alone. All around me, people - your _people - were howling with laughter. I sat amongst them with a rictus grin on my face, wondering, _is it me? _It was like being in a _Twilight Zone episode. About a third of the way through, the projector malfunctioned and for five blissful minutes I got to listen to the lady in front of me tell the tale of the fight her cat got into with a Pomeranian. I listened intently, knowing it was the only story told during the screening that might have an untelegraphed plot twist. Once the film resumed, we got to rewatch about ten minutes, and so were treated to a replay of two poorly CGI-ed rhinos humping, an old lady thrown violently against a tree, and a waiter looking straight into the camera to say, "You won't see that in New Jersey!"
Inexplicably, your fans laughed harder than they did the first time around.
Then it happened. I laughed. No, not because of your movie. I laughed maniacally because I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I believe the experts call it "Stockholm Syndrome," wherein I began to identify and even sympathize with you and your fans. "The critics, the haters, they just don't get it," I thought. "Sandler is the 'People's Comedian', a misunderstood genius!"
And then my soul vurped.
I realize you don't care what I think. You're worth hundreds of millions of dollars. That's a lot of poop jokes and pratfalls; obviously you're doing something right. But I want to know how it feels to play the same schlubby good-guy role over and over, like your own twisted version of Groundhog Day (at least Bill Murray was able to transition into more dramatic work). Your first foray outside of your comfort zone was P.T. Anderson's critical darling Punch Drunk Love, followed by the saccharine flop Reign Over Me. And then you just seemed to give up. You went back to the tired-but-trusted formula that had worked for you in the past (and no, meta-you in Funny People doesn't count). Imagine if Murray had given up after Razor's Edge and kept rehashing the Carl Spackler and Peter Venkman roles that brought him acclaim? We'd have no Lost In Translation! No Steve Zissou!
Let's be honest, there are actually two types of people: those who will read this review and think I'm an elitist asshole, and those who will agree with everything I say. We all know which ones you're working for. If you ever get sick of the crowd yelling, "Play Free Bird!", you can always give serious work another shot. There is a moment in Blended, when a parade of monkeys dressed in wigs and Hooter's uniforms forms a band and plays 'Careless Whispers' to serenade Drew, and your character says, "I wanted a do-over. I'm better than that."
For once, I have to say, I agree.
I hope we can still be friends.