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David Poland

By David Poland

Sandler and Pixels and Netflix, Oh My!


I’m not reviewing Chris Columbus’ new film because… what’s the point? Adam Sandler is in it, so obviously it’s a trigger to Armageddon.

The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, and 50 First Dates are all movies I would recommend without restraint. He has had 29 other movies as the lead. I like a few of them (Zohan, Anger Management, Hotel Transylvania), admire the effort of a couple (Funny People, Punch Drunk Love, Grown Ups), and have various degrees of emotion, from “meh” to active contempt for the rest.

Why do they make Adam Sandler movies? Fourteen $100 million domestic grossers in 16 years. Tom Cruise has had 16 in 21 years. Tom Hanks has had 18 in 24 years. Eddie Murphy had 14 in 22 years, though a group-leading five of those were animated.

There is no era of cinema in which Adam Sandler would not be a major movie star whose film were made. And truly, with $100m+ grossers in 2012 and 2013, this is one of the few eras in which he’d be run off to Netflix to get paid “full value” for his services.

Pixels was not his idea.

And the guy who directed Harry Potter and Home Alone was directing.

If it was Jack Black and Ben Stiller, how would critics feel about this film?

Still imperfect… but I would expect to see less rage.

I wish it were better. But it’s not the most frustrating or worst major release of this summer. Or is it?

17 Responses to “Sandler and Pixels and Netflix, Oh My!”

  1. cadavra says:

    I can’t answer your last question because 1) I haven’t seen PIXELS, and 2) I never will see PIXELS.

    You’re far more tolerant than I am. I’ve never seen one of his films, except perhaps ANGER MANAGEMENT, that didn’t seem like a complete friggin’ waste of time. And one of the blessed things about retiring from my studio job is that I no longer HAVE to sit through his rubbish.

    But if you think he would have been a big star in the 30s or 40s or 50s, you’re flat-out wrong. Study the great comics of that era. They may have played stupid, but the films themselves were extremely well-made and intelligently written. I’d rather sit through the execrable Harry Mimmo short “Down the Hatch” than any Sandler film.

    current mood: cranky

  2. movieman says:

    At the risk of appearing dangerously unhip (or is it too late for that, Hot Bloggers”), I found “Pixels” surprisingly bearable.
    I’d go as far as to say I had a better time than I did at “Ant-Man” or “Jurassic World.”
    2 reasons not to hate “Pixels:”
    (1) the period details in the opening (1982) scenes are spot-on;
    (2) although the climactic battle between Sandler & Co. and the pixel monsters takes place in NYC, the action is restricted to Manhattan streets and no iconic buildings are fetishistically destroyed. (Take that, Marvel.)

  3. PcChongor says:

    The hypocrisy of the media fawning over Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation and then condemning Sandler for just wanting to be the 14 year old boy that he was born is stunning.

  4. cadavra says:

    You’re confusing a life choice with a business model.

  5. Pete B. says:

    Sandler is best when he goes full blown weird. The Waterboy is a classic. Zohan is good, and even Little Nicky had its moments. Then he did his normal guy films like Grown Ups and got lazy.

  6. movieman says:

    I’ve liked more Sandler movies than I’ve disliked over the years: “Zohan,” “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore,” “Big Daddy,” “Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates” are all pretty terrific.
    And his rare forays into more “serious” territory: “Punch Drunk Love,” “Funny People,” “Men, Women & Children”? Awesome.
    Speaking of the (Jason) Reitman flop, didn’t you mean to say “MW&C” instead of “Grown Ups,” Dave?

    .”..admire the effort of a couple (Funny People, Punch Drunk Love, Grown Ups)”

  7. Hcat says:

    Shocked to find the words effort and grown ups in the same sentance. But I do have to admit that Zohan was fantastic and I seem to be the only one who thought Jack and Jill was exceptional (despite the go to Sandler flaws like having Spade show up).

  8. palmtree says:

    MW&C was terrible. But yeah, Sandler has some interesting serious films under his belt. Even Click was strangely emotional and not just the throwaway comedy it was marketed as.

  9. movieman says:

    I really liked “MW&C,” Palm, even if I realize that’s a minority opinion.
    I think the only reputable critics–besides me, natch, lol–who praised it were Todd McCarthy and Owen Gleiberman.
    Pacino’s recent career rejuvenation started w/ “Jack and Jill.” It was his funniest, most enjoyable performance in years.

  10. YancySkancy says:

    Hcat: I’ll also own up to thinking that Jack and Jill fell rather short of being the end of cinema. Sorry, Sandler haters–there’s some funny stuff there, and Sandler’s performance as Jill is borderline inspired, not lazy drag shtick. Al Pacino’s self-parodying supporting role is a true hoot and another surprisingly inspired touch. Sure, the film suffers from the same over-reliance on product placement and fart jokes as many other Sandler vehicles, but I laughed, and I didn’t find the sweeter moments to be overly cloying.

    Critics’ noses start crinkling whenever a new Happy Madison project is announced, and most could write their negative reviews in their sleep without bothering to actually watch the film (no offense, cadavra). But I honestly don’t see what’s so offensive about Jack and Jill, unless you’re inordinately squeamish about the occasional silly fart gag.

    I loved Zohan and Funny People, liked Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer and even Just Go With It had its points. 50 First Dates, Click and maybe even Bedtime Stories could have been great in other hands. I couldn’t make it through The Waterboy, and haven’t bothered to see many of his films, including Big Daddy, Little Nicky, Chuck and Larry, Grown Ups, etc. So I’m hardly a kneejerk Sandler apologist. But I do think a lot of people dismiss him out of hand, with no true consideration of the appeal that his work occasionally has to a classic and arthouse type like me.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    MW&C is the only recent film of his I truly detest. It actually, following “Labor Day,” made me worry for the mental health of Jason Reitman. The luddite earnestness seeping from his last two features is in such opposition to his first four that I truly wonder if he’s had some kind of break with reality.

  12. cadavra says:

    Yancy, no offense taken. But when someone makes 20+ awful movies in a row, the evidence provided in the trailer of the next one is sufficient for my purposes to make it eminently missable. Now, had it gotten 85+% on Rotten Tomatoes, I might have taken a shot at it just to see what made the critics change their minds about him. But that hasn’t happened. And this one seems all the more depressing since, as I noted elsewhere, it’s a nifty premise and might have worked with real actors or action stars (a la RED) instead of the usual Happy Madison crotch-grabbers.

  13. palmtree says:

    Well, I know Sandler is the big star here, but the premise is enough to get me in the seat. I don’t care who’s in it. The stars are the video games, period.

  14. Tuck Pendleton says:

    Sandler is one of the rare stars that’s also a lightening rod of hate for some. Sure some aren’t fans of Hanks or Cruise or Smith or Depp or RDJ, but rare is the contingent that poor bile over the man.

    I can’t stand him, never have and I’m of the “all of my friends quote Billy Madison religiously” generation. All of his schtick never connected with me. He personfies big, dumb studio movie high-concept comedy. Not to mention that he rules with Michael Bay on the “product placement” award for most egregious placements in a movie.

    Funny people got a HUGE pass from so many critics on it just being ok. Sandler’s dramatic scenes in it are laughably bad.

  15. In the 1940s would Adam Sandler be the Red Skelton or the William Bendix of Hollywood?

  16. cadavra says:

    Neither. More like El Brendel.

  17. Glamourboy says:

    I enjoyed his period of being the adult that didn’t grow up in his early films (Happy Gilmore is hysterial)…but the problem really rests with the fact that Sandler’s movies about middle age are just kind of sad. Playing the 40/50 year old doofus isn’t appealing, whether it is Sandler or Jerry Lewis. And if he isn’t playing a character with some schtick attached to it…if he really is playing it as a dramatic actor, he just sort of blends into the background. He is definitely someone that needs career rehab (whether or not his movies make money, his name has almost come to mean ‘bad cinema’). Too bad Paul Mazursky isn’t around to write Sandler his own Down And Out In Beverly Hill-style reviver.

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