Dear Adam Sandler Fans,
If you are a 13-year-old-boy, ignore this letter. Carry on with your Xboxing and your YouTubing or whatever it is you kids are into these days. But if you have pubes, and a fully developed prefrontal cortex, you also have some explaining to do.
Who the hell are you, exactly?
I’ve been trying to figure you out for years. When I picture you in my head it’s not pretty. I see monobrows, Cheeto-dusted sweatpants, and Crocs. I imagine too many digits and not enough teeth. I realize this sounds horribly condescending, especially because I was once one of you. But that was a long time ago. Clinton was president. Napster was a thing. Adam Sandler was funny. I was high. Pretty much all the time. But even now, when the most mind-altering substance I imbibe is Tazo Calm tea, I still think The Wedding Singer is funny. Everything he’s done since then would require me to ingest Chris Farley-levels of recreational pharmaceuticals to find even mildly amusing.
So really, who are you? I’ve asked around and no one will readily admit to being an Adam Sandler fan. But you must be out there. It’s kind of like how everyone likes to hate on U2, yet their massive stadium shows sell out in minutes. Someone’s going, but nobody wants to cop to it. Like that barbed wire tattoo you thought was cool for twelve minutes in ‘99, if you can hide it now why wouldn’t you? And I can’t say I blame you. Admitting you like Adam Sandler’s films means admitting to yourself what you know deep inside must be true: Adam Sandler thinks you’re stupid. He thinks you’re sexist, and racist and borderline sociopathic.
Or at least it seems that way.
Why else would he continue to make sophomoric drivel set in a Hooters, or in an Africa rendered so insulting and full of stereotypes that he might as well have just shot it at The Rainforest Cafe? Why would he keep playing the same sad-sack Everyman with a bullying streak and an uncontrollable temper? It’s because he thinks you’re a bunch of mouth-breathing rubes who will happily pay to see whatever insipid dreck he deigns to shart out.
On the topic of sharting, Adam Sandler movies can best be compared to the McRib; they both come around about once a year surrounded by inflated hype, they’re molded into a pre-formed shape with the cheapest material, are completely devoid of nutritional value, and they cover you in shame sweat immediately following consumption.
They also make an inexplicably obscene amount of money.
Fast food chains don’t make food as much as they sell product. Sandler operates in much the same way. To him, comedy isn’t art, it’s commerce. Like McD’s, he succeeds because he keeps operating costs low thus ensuring a high return on investment. His movies aren’t movies, they are units sold. Quantity versus quality. His goal isn’t to make millions of people laugh, it’s to make a few people rich.
Adam Sandler stopped trying years ago. He admits as much himself. His films are an excuse for him and his friends to get a paid vacation. Which wouldn’t be so sad if his movies were even marginally funny. Instead they take aim at the marginalized. His style of comedy isn’t just lazy, it’s mean. And it’s mean because it’s lazy. The easiest, cheapest laughs are the ones you get from punching down, from harvesting the lowest hanging fruit. They aren’t effortless, they are effort-free. There is no subtext, no hidden metaphors, no subtlety whatsoever. Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips nailed it when he said, "People of color, to say nothing of women, who have been marginalized, patronized or humiliated by a stupid joke in an Adam Sandler movie over the last few years constitute the biggest club in modern Hollywood.”
But for some reason, you’re all still laughing.
Last week, a group of Native American actors walked off the set of Sandler’s latest cinematic abortion, Ridiculous 6. They had been told the movie wasn’t racist, and that the production had hired a Native consultant. They went ahead in good faith that their culture would be represented respectfully. But once on set, they raised several concerns (inappropriate character names and costumes to name a few) which were summarily dismissed. It would have been bad enough if they only had to endure a bunch of people “whitesplaining” what should and shouldn’t offend them. They were then told by producers, “If you’re overly sensitive, you should leave.” Netflix, the company behind the film, released an overly defensive statement:
"The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke.”
Let’s make one thing crystal clear: Adam Sandler wouldn’t recognize satire if it shat in his mouth. But it’s no surprise Netflix is going to stand firm. Last fall they inked a four (!) picture deal with Sandler (who approved of the union, saying Netflix rhymes with “wet chicks”), and they aren’t necessarily in the same financial position that bigger studios like Disney and Sony are to weather the kind of box-office stinker that Ridiculous 6 is destined to be, let alone endure three more.
So far, Sandler himself has remained mum on the incident. But his co-star Vanilla Ice has leaped to the film’s defense stating, “I’m part Chocktaw Indian” which is the Native equivalent of saying “I can’t be racist, I have a black friend.” If this was Sandler’s idea, maybe he does have a sense of humour after all.
The way I see it, you have a few options, you can admit you’re a horrible person who has helped to line the pockets of a self-loathing, man-child because you also think poking fun at the disenfranchised is the height of comedy. You can admit you’re a stupid person, because you think jokes like, “Say honey, how about after this, we go some place and I put my pee-pee in your tee-pee?” are funny and you just can’t be bothered to try harder because thinking hurts.
Or you can admit that admiring an entitled 48 year-old millionaire doofus who wears cargo shorts and ballcaps is embarrassing, grow the fuck up, and finally make an appointment to get that barbed wire tattoo lasered off.
The choice is yours,
P.S. To be clear:
Punch Drunk Love is a P.T. Anderson film.
Funny People is a Judd Apatow film.
Spanglish is a James L. Brooks film.
The Cobbler is a Thomas McCarthy film
Men, Women & Children is a Jason Reitman film.
Reign Over Me was a mistake.
An Adam Sandler movie is classified thusly: must co-star Rob Schneider, or David Spade or Alan Covert or Steve Buscemi. There must be: gratuitous cleavage shots, at least one scene of an elderly person being humiliated and/or an animal having a bodily function, a monkey in human clothes.