They say his films have made roughly $3 billion, and that’s pretty fucking impressive. I wonder if there is really anyone that can come close to that. And this isn’t some Samuel Jackson bullshit where he gets to count Jurassic Park and the prequels whilst only having minor roles, every Adam Sandler movie is AN ADAM SANDLER MOVIE.
This weekend, when faced with the choice of That’s My Boy or Rock of Ages, I hope we all let the world know who the ‘Box-Office King’ still is (though it is nice to have three box-office heavies all in the Top 5 again, reminding us of the magic of cinema).
Let’s face it, right off the bat you know if you’re a Sandman fan or not. You either enjoy his comedy or for some reason want to pick his plots apart. This movie will either bring back some of his older fans who have grown tired of his schtick in recent years, or they will just keep bitching about his silly voices. People give old-timey comedians a break for doing the same shit over and over in every film, but choose to chastise Sandler for not growing or not doing more PTA films. Either way, he’s pretty much our generation’s Jerry Lewis…and I love that.
I’m a Sandman fan.
I remember when I thought Billy Madison was the funniest fucking thing I had ever seen. I’ve continued to laugh at his comedies ever since….some harder than others. All I know is THAT’S MY BOY had me laughing, like it was fucking Billy Madison all over again.
You see, Adam pretty much only works with like three directors, and lately it’s been mostly Dennis Dugan (Problem Child), and while he does a serviceable job he has a very basic, workman-like approach to crafting jokes and films. I had assumed he was at the helm for That’s My Boy, and about halfway through, I was thinking….this has too much fucking style for Dennis. I was right. Sandler has added a new prize-horse to his stable, that being the great Sean Anders. If you haven’t seen his other works, Sex Drive and the second greatest mockumentary of all-time (third if you’re a Spinal Tap fan) NBT: Never Been Thawed, go rent them immediately. Sand and Sean go together like butter and tits. Anders brings a well designed cinematic feel to the Happy Madison world, much nicer than something like Apatow’s closed-off look (you know, where it feels like only 5 extras were used in the whole thing). Also, Anders works in some nice stylistic touches that gel well with the comedic playfulness. All in all it just flows nicer than you’d expect from a Sandler film (they usually have an odd clunkiness to them), and it’s probably his best looking character, in terms of style. Some of his every-guy movies are nicely shot and feature good location work, but his look has always seemed a little stifled, like the style isn’t outrageous enough to the match the character. This time they nailed it.
Basically, this is Sandler’s Liar Liar. There’s a nice balance of his silly side and his family man dramatic qualities. I was surprised how well the drama works. Most people love to roll their eyes and bitch about the emotion being unearned, but in some ways Sandler’s half-assed ‘accept me for who I am’ approach is more realistic than big sweeping gestures you’d normally see in this kind of thing. As for ANDY SAMBURG….well fuck. I’m a huge fan of his. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve called him Baby Sandler for years. Here, he is forced to play the straight man, and he does a great job. He easily holds his own against the titan of comedy, and they riff back and forth just fine. But this is a much different dynamic than we’re used to seeing in a Sandler picture. You see, Adam has surrounded himself with friends and begrudging comedians who never went the distance. They’ve been hanging around taking bit roles and sucking on his tit for years. That’s not a knock against him, I think it’s awesome he supports his friends like that. You don’t see that kind of loyalty in Hollywood anymore. But Samburg….he’s a different animal. He isn’t just looking for hand-outs and walk-on bit player roles in The Happy Madison Comedy Troupe, no…he’s a star. And here he stands out, and he is very funny. This isn’t some Rob Schneider bullshit, where he’s told to shut the fuck up and make stupid faces behind Adam, with Samburg there’s actual tête-à-tête between the two. They have a strong rapport, an energy that lights up the screen. It can be just the two of them yelling at each other in a room and it’s some of the funniest shit in the film. That’s a key here….the relationships. Throughout the film, they’re all handled well. All the characters, whether leads or minor, feel natural. Nothing feels forced or overdone (except maybe Sandler’s charity case Nick Swardson, who I want to laugh at harder than I actually do). I also love how these great old actors are turning to Sandman for roles, while Caan’s got more of a cameo, it’s a lot of fun and I’d loved to hear the voice-mail he left Adam begging for work. Vanilla Ice, he’s not just a cameo….he’s actually IN the movie. He gets like 4th or 5th billing which is just fucking funny in its own right.
Sean didn’t write this, which surprised me. But the story unfolds nicely. It’s a Sandler movie, so I don’t expect some deep plot discussion. It’s a little formulaic, as you’d expect. You’ll hear it called Sandler’s Meet the Parents, or Sandler’s The Hangover. That’s fine. It holds its own next to them and this actually EARNS its R rating.
If you once had love in your heart for Adam Sandler, but have forgotten about him, or not given a shit about anything he’s put out lately, THIS is the movie that will bring you back and remind you he’s STILL ‘The King of Comedy’ and he hasn’t lost his edge.
Hopefully, Dennis Dugan will retire and Sean can take over as the captain of the Sandman ship from here on out, cause basically….fuck him.
Stuntcock_Mike finally got a chance to meet
his idol at the ‘That’s My Boy’ set-visit last summer.