Adam Sandler is one of the most hated men in Hollywood.
For a solid ten years for former Saturday Night Live star’s output has largely been duff comedies like Jack and Jill, Grown Ups and Blended. He even turned up unfavourably in the Sony Hacks, with Sony Pictures employees ranting against his for “bleeding the studio dry” with his brand of low-brow comedy.
Now Sandler’s at Netflix, presumably diving into piles of cash like Scrooge McDuck and making turkeys like The Ridiculous 6 and The Do-Over.
It didn’t use to be like this. Sandler was once – genuinely – a great leading man involved with some corking comedies. Then he discovered The Sandler Formula and there was no turning back. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, That’s My Boy… the horror!
He didn’t get where he is now without some level of talent. Don’t believe us? Here are 8 Adam Sandler movies that are categorically not crap.
Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler as metal heads holding a radio station hostage so thery’ll play their demo tape? What’s not to love about this mid-90s comedy? Sandler made this just as he was coming to the end of this five-year stint on Saturday Night Live.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Sandler’s Happy Gilmore leaves behind the hockey rink to take up golf and win cash to save his grandma’s home in this 90s classic. A tense rivalry with Christopher McDonald’s Shooter McGavin and a dynamite Carl Weathers cameo (he’d later pull the same trick in Arrested Development) were just two of the film’s highlights. When it comes to a ‘pure’ Sandler comedy, this is easily the best of them.
The Wedding Singer (1998)
A bang-on 80s soundtrack and charismatic performances from Sandler and Drew Barrymore made this one of the better Hollywood rom-coms from the late-90s. Funny and charming, this worked a treat with its target audience and helped elevate Sandler to the big leagues.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
For a man who counts Daniel Day-Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix among the leading stars he’s worked with, Adam Sandler sticks out like a sore thumb in the filmography of Pau Thomas Anderson. Their 2002 romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love, about a man who falls for Emily Watson’s Lena Leonard, is an absolute gem. When all’s said and done, this will go down as the greatest film Sandler ever made.
50 First Dates (2004)
Imagine a Christopher Nolan film… but funny. Sandler and Barrymore’s second film together centres on a woman whose short term memory loss makes her romantic life a complete nightmare. The tagline said it best: “Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams… every friggin’ day!”
Reign Over Me (2007)
Sandler delivers an excellent performance here as a man struggling to deal with the loss of his family in the 9/11 attacks. Director Mike Binder handles the tricky subject matter well, and Sandler and Don Cheadle are fine sparring partners on screen. Having a soundtrack dotted with great Bruce Springsteen and The Who tracks helps, too.
Funny People (2008)
A long, rambling and funny look at the inner workings of Hollywood’s comedy scene, Judd Apatow’s brilliantly utilised Sandler to play a movie star told he’s about to die. It’s a clear case of art imitating life, as Sandler movies-within-a-movie include MerMan, My Best Friend is a Roboy and Astro-Not.
Top Five (2014)
A cheat choice, but one worth throwing in because more people should see it. Chris Rock wrote, directed and starred in this comedy about a Hollywood star desperately trying to make it as a serious actor. Sandler only appears in a cameo (as himself), but the film itself is worth seeking out if you’re a fan of his and Rock’s 90s comedy generation.