Adam Sandler may never have been the king of all things “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, but there was a time when he delivered silly fare that you couldn’t help, but to watch over and over again. In case That’s My Boy follows in the footsteps of Sandler’s more recent wide releases like Grown Ups and Jack and Jill, at least we’ve still got his past films to remind us of the silly and loveable Adam Sandler that used to be.
Pip “ain’t fartin’ on no snare drum,” but Sandler’s Airheads character certainly keeps the mood light while his accomplices, Chazz and Rex (Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi), hold up KPPX at gunpoint out of desperation to get their song on the air. When you’ve got Pip whipping out dance moves during a standoff with a police officer, it’s obvious he’s got the power to steal the spotlight.
2. Billy Madison
I was only 8 when Billy Madison hit theaters, but considering my parents were lenient and the movie was rated PG-13, I sat front and center for what my mother describes as one of the strangest movies she’d ever seen. However, that was back in 1995. The release of Billy Madison marked the beginning of the Adam Sandler empire. Seventeen years later, not only can I recite this film from beginning to end, but my entire family can’t ask for a piece of gum without doing it Billy Madison-style.
3. Happy Gilmore
Sandler introduced the world to his unusual humor with Billy Madison and didn’t let us forget it, delivering Happy Gilmore the following year. Whether you play golf or not, it’s obvious Happy Gilmore’s behavior is entirely unsuitable and downright hilarious. Who hasn’t wanted to try that slap shot-style drive of his? If only it actually worked.
4. The Wedding Singer
One of Sandler’s top-rated films and for good reason; The Wedding Singer is the ultimate union of Sandler’s eccentric humor and genuine heart – or should I say Hart? The Wedding Singer flourishes because Robbie Hart is a likeable character, making you invested in his goals. And, to top it all off, while a pre-flight last-ditch effort to get the girl of your dreams is a romcom troupe, Robbie singing “Grow Old With You” will undoubtedly melt your heart.
5. The Waterboy
Stutter or no stutter, Bobby Boucher might have the most irritating voice and most nonsensical manner possible, but deep down he means well and you can’t help but sympathize with him. The Waterboy isn’t exactly a stroke of genius, but it is one of those Sandler comedies that grows on you. This one also has the inspirational sports movie element and, just like Happy Gilmore, it gets you to root for its silly protagonist.
6. Big Daddy
Sandler’s dirty humor is present and accounted for, but Big Daddy ups the stakes like never before by giving him a kid. While Sonny Koufax’s behavior is outlandish, here, Sandler keeps it in the realm of realism. Feeding your kid 30 packets of ketchup, teaching him to trip people with sticks or telling his buddies Yoo-hoo is better with a little rum in it isn’t a great idea, but you can’t deny--as long as it's not happening to your kid, it's pretty amusing, too.
7. Little Nicky
Back to the entirely unrealistic and absurd for Little Nicky. This is another one that might take some time to sink in. Kudos to Sandler for being able to make that face for an entire feature, but Nicky is easily one of the strangest characters he’s ever played. However, with a mere 84 minute running time, Little Nicky doesn’t give its gags or crazy characters the chance to rub you the wrong way, rather offer up just the right dose to make it an amusing experience.
8. Punch-Drunk Love
Not only is Punch-Drunk Love the best of the best for Sandler on the critics’ scale, but it’s a great movie period. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson keeps Sandler in familiar territory, giving him a character that’s eccentric, but average at the same time. It’s a movie like this that makes you wonder why Sandler is even subjecting himself to commercial comedy drab. He doesn’t just have to be a guy with a shtick; with the right material, he’s a great actor.
9. Eight Crazy Nights
Say what you want about this one, but every time Eleanor announces, “They were giving out free lobster bibs in the bathroom,” I giggle. Eight Crazy Nights is definitely oozing with Sandler’s over-the-top crude humor and silly voices, but the characters are so likeable, who cares? Plus the movie evokes loads of holiday cheer, making it a harmless, 76-minute seasonal treat.
10. Anger Management
Adam Sandler joining forces with Jack Nicholson; who can argue with that? It should come as no surprise that Anger Management is jam packed with absurdity, but watching Nicholson take part in outrageous behavior usually reserved for Sandler is wildly amusing. The plot’s contrived and only a handful of the jokes land hard, but sometime there’s no harm in just sitting back, relaxing and appreciating two well-established leads make fools of themselves.
11. 50 First Dates
This one benefits from having two wildly likeable leads. After proving to be the perfect match in The Wedding Singer, Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite in a story that stays afloat thanks to their chemistry and a successfully executed high concept plot.
Minus the fact that it’s on the long side, Spanglish is a wholly entertaining and endearing watch. It brings some rather heavy issues to the forefront and rather than letting them weigh an audience down with a darker tone, James L. Brooks takes a lighter and more comedic approach. However, that’s not to say Spanglish is without heart wrenching moments. In fact, Sandler’s performance here is almost overwhelmingly moving.
Who hasn’t wished for a remote control to rewind, fast-forward or pause life? While Click might be one of Sandler’s first big disappointments, thanks to that relatable concept it stays far more grounded than junk like Jack and Jill. Director Frank Coraci and co. don’t come anywhere near the concept's full potential, but the “this is just for fun” card swoops in and saves the day, making Click a mindlessly entertaining experience.
14. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan wasn't my favorite, at first, but not only do I leave it on every time I catch it on TV, some of the gags still make me laugh. Sandler’s comedy teeters on the edge of being downright annoying or so silly, you’re embarrassed you’re laughing. Hence my guilty feelings while giggling every time I need to say “silky smooth” like Zohan.
15. Funny People
If only Funny People wasn’t two movies in one, it could have been one of Sandler’s greatest. However, that’s not to say both sections of Funny People aren’t well done. George Simmons is a fascinating character with a troubling dilemma and while Sandler’s performance packs the power to make you feel it, it’s done with a wonderful tinge of humor. Had the latter half been a standalone movie, the situation between George, Laura and Clarke would have made for a great family dramedy.