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WIRTB Review: The Sandler Trifecta of Suck - Part One

Love him or loathe him, if you grew up in the past twenty or so years, the name Adam Sandler is sure to strike up some sort of strong emotional reaction. From his beginnings on The Cosby Show to his most recent controversy surrounding his portrayal of Indigenous Americans in an upcoming film, Sandler has seen his share of clusterfucks. But, you're not here for a Behind the Actor's Studio, and I'm definitely not James Lipton. So, let's get into the crap and get it on. I'm Speed on the Beat, and this is The Sandler Trifecta of Suck: A WIRTB Review Three-Part Series.

Contrary to belief, Sandler's first film wasn't Billy Madison or even Coneheads. No, in 1989, a twenty-something Sandler starred in a film that was the bastard child of The Love Boat and the Naked Gun series. This film, Going Overboard, is as shittastic as you'd think.


He plays a struggling Jewish comedian, Shecky Moskowitz. Sandler, in case you haven't discovered already, has the subtlety of the video to Major Lazer's "Bubble Butt" song. I got several lapdances to that song from a young woman down the Hustler Club in Baltimore. She was kind of a slimmy, but...oh, wait where was I?


Ah, yes. Shecky decides to, like most struggling comedians, take up a random-ass job. Said job is on a cruise ship which ends up being overtaken by terrorists after he becomes the ship's comedian after the OG comedian went overboard (get it? No?). And who gets to save the day? Shecky, through the...power of laughter, complete with faux-beach-bum music. It's like watching the fucking dub of Yu-Gi-Oh in middle/high school. Except even the Yu-Gi-Oh dub made some semblance of sense...except when talking about the Rising Sun.

So, a couple years--and several bombs (no pun intended)--later (yes, Airheads was a bomb), we get to 1995's Billy Madison. Now, I'll admit, the premise is both asinine and straight up offensive. A slacker who's also potentially mentally disabled in some way has to go back through grade school to inherit his dad's Fortune 500 company and keep it out of the clutches of the douchebag who is "all about the money." This is in complete contrast to being partly about the money, as T.I. said.

However, this film, as ignorant and stupid as it was (and it's pretty fucking stupid), it isn't that bad. If you turn your brain off, light up a couple, pour a few shots, and zonk out, Billy Madison can pass for a halfway watchable experience. I think it also has something to do with the fact that the director of Madison also directed Half-Baked, one of my favorite films of all-time. That plus the timing was pretty perfect, even though the jokes themselves fall flat a good 65% of the time.

A year later, we get Happy Gilmore, which is pretty much Billy Madison with golf clubs and Bob Barker kicking ass. Seriously. That's pretty much the gist of the movie. Oh, there's some sort of a plot, but, at its core, it's Billy Madison with golf. That's not a good thing. But, in 1998, Sandler struck gold.

Maybe it's because of the It's Something About Mary feels associated with our next film, but The Wedding Singer was both a critical and commercial success. It was a schmaltzy rom-com, but it was coherent. It told a story which one could relate to in a way that gave a healthy doze of '80s nostalgia. In The Wedding Singer, Adam Sandler plays, well, a wedding singer. Said singer falls in love with the girl at the rock show (man, I miss Blink-182's earlier sounds). But (GASP!) he's engaged and she's dating a serial cheater. Hilarity ensues and eventually Sandler's character gets the girl of his dreams, played by Drew Barrymore (keep her name in mind, by the way). It's a cute film which hits all the right points. Plus, The Wedding Singer has the "Rapping Granny." Not the America's Got Talent one, the original one.

Between 1995 and 2005, we averaged about one Sandler-helmed (either as a star or a producer) film a year. In 1999, Sandler had amassed enough cash to start his own production company. The last film that he put out before Happy Madison Productions became a reality was 1999's Big Daddy. This film got "mehs" all around from critics. But, was it really that bad?


Sandler plays a slacker who's smart in other ways (such as, y'know, having his law degree) because reasons and it sets up conflict. His girlfriend wants him to grow up and do big things, but he's like "well, fuck that. I'm gonna just chill with my boys and work at a toll booth." Already, you're seeing that this film is taking what made The Wedding Singer hit and retooling it, without really retooling it. But, wait! There's a kid!

So, after Sandler's character, Sonny Koufax (not to be confused with Sandy) deals with his girl leaving, he wakes up randomly to a five-year-old named Julian (a/k/a Frankenstein). Sonny isn't equipped to manage kids, because he's barely equipped to manage himself! But, as movies go, he nuts up, becomes the kid's father and teaches him how to piss in public and such, because reasons and Sandler being a lovable goof is what people wanted to see in 1999. Eventually, there's something about a child services dude who comes back after determining that Sonny all but kidnapped the kid. There's drama, there're dramatic stings, there are tears. 

Sonny goes to trial over the kid and his biological dad, Kevin (Jon Stewart), decides not to press charges. Why? Because deux ex machina and the fact that Kevin and Sonny are friends. Sonny eventually gets his shit together and runs into his ex, who's a waitress at Hooter's. No real reason behind it. Just..."hey, she was the 'bitch' of the movie. Let's fuck with her and her new boyfriend because they're 'bad' people and the audience wants them to get their just desserts."

Big Daddy wasn't that bad when I saw it first. But, close to twenty years later, it just doesn't hold up. It almost makes me sad for the kid. Yeah, he's having fun, but the guy who is his biological didn't even know he existed and the guy who acted as his father was inept for most the damn movie.

As an aside, you're probably wondering why I skipped The Waterboy. Simply put, it's Billy Madison meets Forrest Gump playing football. There's a rule of thumb. If Adam Sandler is in a movie with sports, it's going to usually mimic Billy Madison in some way. For instance, 2005's The Longest Yard remake mimicked Billy Madison in a few ways. But, we'll get to those when we get to that movie. 

2000 saw Adam play the son of the Devil in a movie which I enjoy, for no real reason other than it's fucking stupid. I'm talking about Little Nicky. It's pretty much Empire meets The Devil is a Part-Timer meets Corky Romano. That's all you need to know. If that doesn't make you want to watch (or steer far away), I don't know what will. As an aside, Corky Romano, as much as I despise Chris Kattan (he's even worse than Sandler, believe it or not), wasn't as bad as people think.

In 2002, we were treated to Adam Sandler's take on Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, the loose remake Mr. Deeds. Umm...good points about this movie. It had Ashley Judd Wynona Ryder (whatever happened to her?) and Kathy Bates beating the shit out of each other and Al Sharpton? No? Ok, moving on. 2002 also saw Sandler do his own Nutty Professor/Fat Albert shtick in the adaptation of his Hanukkah song "Eight Crazy Nights." Just...no. But, at least, in 2002, we got Punch-Drunk Love. It's a movie you need to see to get. I could try and describe it, but I'd fail, since it's kind of trippy. It bombed in the box office, but it made me think "oh, holy shit! Sandler can actually do well in movies when he's not playing someone who's...not all there."

And that, my friends, is where we will stop for today. Tune in tomorrow at noon when we go from Anger Management Sandler through Grown Ups. And on Wednesday, we'll finish the Trifecta of Suck with films ranging from Just Go With It to his most-recent film The Cobbler. Never heard of it? Me neither, so to BitTorrent I will go. I will say this before I go: it's not looking good for Adam.

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