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Take a quick glance at Adam Sandler’s movie lineup since making Billy Madison, and you’re sure to find a glaring trend — oftentimes critics hate his comedy movies. Some big exceptions are Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, as well as dramatic movies like Punch Drunk Love and last year's Uncut Gems; critics seem to love those. But pushing those aside, all of his other comedies have gotten bashed by critics.
Adam Sandler is frequently maligned for having some of the worst comedies in the business and has earned some truly cringeworthy awards, especially when he swept the Razzies in 2012 with Jack and Jill. With so many poorly reviewed comedies under his belt, he’s become something of his own punchline for really bad comedies. He even joked about this himself, warning that if Uncut Gem doesn’t win awards, he’d make a bad movie on purpose. None of that really matters, though.
Fast forward a little over two decades since releasing Billy Madison, and Adam Sandler has become one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. He signed a huge four-movie deal with Netflix a while back and just recently signed another four-movie deal with the company. Netflix loves him and admits the Sandman’s movies have drawn millions of views. Sandler’s fans love watching his movies despite whatever the critics have to say about them. But the notorious question is... why? Here are some reasons.
They Think His Movies Are Funny
This might come across as “too easy,” but sometimes it’s as simple as difference in tastes, and there’s real data to back this up. According to a poll surveying a little over 2,000 adults by Morning Consult, this reason overwhelmingly dwarfed all the others for why they watch his movies. Fans genuinely find Adam Sandler funny and love his style of comedy. Movies and genre, after all, are subjective. Adam Sandler fans have bought in to his sense of humor and love every second of it.
So what’s his sense of humor? Usually Adam Sandler's comedies feature a dumb, juvenile and lazy protagonist committing all kinds of wild hijinks while trying to overcome an obstacle that seems way over his head, but ultimately teaches him a valuable lesson. Sometimes Sandler plays someone who gets aggressively angry, like in Happy Gilmore and Anger Management. He also likes writing over-the-top caricatures and stereotypes (i.e. The Waterboy) that act as a catalyst for comedy.
While his fans eat this childish humor up, critics are put off by it. They also frequently cite his obnoxious, raunchy, offensive and lowbrow humor as the reason his movies are so bad, finding it old, tired and boring.
He Won Fans With His Early Work
Adam Sandler started basking in the spotlight during his time on Saturday Night Live from 1991 to 1995, where he wrote and performed comedy. He created some of the most enduring skits and popular characters, including The Hanukkah Song, Lunch Lady Land and the Opera Man.
After getting fired from Saturday Night Live, Adam Sandler made quite the impression with his '90s comedies, like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy. By and large, younger fans often point back to these early movies as what made them loyal fans.
Nostalgia is a powerful force. All you have to do is look at Star Wars fans to figure that out. So for Adam Sandler fans, watching his new movies brings them back to when they watched his early movies for the first time. Most critics try not to look at movies through a nostalgic lens, fearful that it’ll warp their reasoning and perspective. With the rose-colored glasses off, they come down on Adam Sandler’s films more harshly than a fan might.
Fans Don’t Hold Him To Too High A Standard
Deep down, Adam Sandler fans know his comedies are dumb; that’s part of his enduring appeal. Again, they think his dumb, juvenile and silly comedy is funny. They have no problem investing in it and enjoy watching it. Adam Sandler wasn’t setting any high standards with Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore. By setting the bar pretty low, fans don’t hold him to a higher expectation. They go in knowing what his movies are going to be and are totally OK with it.
Critics, on the other hand, don’t give him the same benefit of the doubt. More often than not, they like to keep the bar high, especially if other competing comedies have set a standard for the genre. This is why his comedies might not sit so nicely with critics.
He Gives Fans What They Want
After receiving consistently poor reviews, I bet it would have been tempting for Adam Sandler to pull away from his typical schtick, do something totally new and try to make a comedy that impresses the critics. Artists occasionally like to shake things up and do something new, but Adam Sandler hasn’t succumbed to that. Instead, he’s consistently given the fans what they want, keeping them loyal and coming back for more.
Too often this means regurgitating what he has done in the past, but with a slight change. Sometimes Adam Sandler will play the sarcastic everyman that cracks jokes at weird stuff that’s going on around him. Other times, he’s the eccentric character who has quirks and an odd accent. Most of his comedies are the same, but come wrapped in different packaging. You’d think that might tire fans, but it’s actually exactly what they want.
Of course, by pressing in so hard to appeal to his fans, Adam Sandler's sacrificed having his comedies being taken seriously by critics. Critics seem to overwhelmingly want smarter writing and less childish, low-brow humor; fans want more of that. Could he make a comedy that appeals to both? Answering that question would likely be an article unto itself.
He Offers An Escape And A Fun Time
In many of Adam Sandler’s comedies, everyone in the movie is having a great time. Most of the supporting cast looks like they’re having fun throughout the whole process. Fans wanting to have that same feeling rush to his movies to experience it. Adam Sandler movies are an escape for them; they know they’ll be a fun time and hop right in. They might not even find them that funny, but since the movies have a lighthearted and silly tone, they watch them anyway.
Adam Sandler seems to realize this. He knows people just want an escape. To leverage this feeling, he’ll put his characters in vacation-y locations, which he also admits is an excuse for him to go on vacation too. In last year's Murder Mystery, he went on a European vacation. In Blended, he headed to an exotic resort for families. In Grown Ups, he and his buddies all went to a big waterpark. In The Do-Over, Adam Sandler and David Spade lived it up in a tropical location. I think you get the picture. Most of his movies scream fun because he uses settings that people associate as fun.
Again, what some consider a fun time is up to a matter of opinion. Critics, by and large, don’t think Adam Sandler’s movies are a good time at all and often try to dissuade people from watching them, believing people will have a bad time.
Fans Relate To Him
Whether it’s the characters he’s playing or the actor himself, fans find themselves relating to Adam Sandler. This isn’t wholly unusual. Sandler often plays underdogs, average joes, and the everyman-type characters that most people can relate to.
And despite his character’s flaws, like being irreverent, irresponsible and sometimes a jerk, many of Adam Sandler's characters are often lovable, admirable and do the right thing when the time comes. At the end of the day, fans have found common ground with Sandler and that continues to draw them back to him whenever he releases a new movie.
It’s A Love-Hate Thing
I have to admit I fall into this camp, and I’d wager there are quite a few fans out there who have a love-hate relationship with his movies, too. What does that even mean? It’s something along the lines of fully realizing his comedies aren’t good but, at the same time watching and enjoying them nevertheless. It’s an unabashed guilty pleasure.
Take a quick gander at the YouTube comments under his latest Hubie Halloween trailer and you’ll see a lot of people saying the same thing — they admit it looks horrible, but they’re totally going to watch it anyway. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Everyone has their own guilty pleasure. Adam Sandler comedies just might happen to be a very popular one.
Adam Sandler knows what he’s doing. He’s been making comedies for a very long time and doesn’t really care what critics say about them. His fans keep coming back, so it’s doubtful he’ll be stopping anytime soon. These are just a few of the reasons fans keep coming back, but why do you think people keep watching Adam Sandler movies? Let us know in the comments!