• Dylan Smith

My Dinner With Sandler, Part Two

Is History Repeating Itself?

On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures experienced one of the biggest hacks in history. Emails were leaked, private information was made public, but most importantly Sandler was disgraced. Sony’s leaked emails detailed the thoughts and feelings that the studio had with carrying and distributing the Happy Madison films. Some quotes from the emails are listed below:

  • “We only release a dozen or so Columbia Pictures a year, will we still be paying for Adam Sandler? Why?”

  • “Although we manage to produce an innovative film once in a while, Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films.”

However, the Sony event didn’t stop the Sandler train. Sandler boomed in the streaming era. After the Sony hack, Happy Madison moved to Netflix with a two hundred and seventy-five million dollar deal for four original movies on the platform. Sandler made more of the schlock and critical disasters he had always produced, but he thrives on the streaming platform: his movies are couch fare. Whether it’s a lazy Sunday or a Friday night with the boys, streaming Sandler felt natural. Netflix claimed that their viewers spent an accumulated two billion hours watching the happy Madison content on the platform. So, while Sandler didn’t gain any accolades for his work, he still managed to reach the public successfully, adapting to the times in the best way possible for his career. Sandler, however, was striving for something new, enter Uncut Gems.

The Safdie brothers put Sandler back on the map as a “serious” performer. People saw a Sandler that hadn’t been seen in almost a full decade (with Funny People in 2011), a Sandler that tries to act. It was a daunting task for the man, but his performance as Howard Ratner was phenomenal and arguably Oscar-worthy. It was around the release of the Safdie brothers’ film and the Oscar buzz it generated when Sandler said this on The Howard Stern Show:


"If I don't get it (The Oscar), I'm going to fucking come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose."


Mini-Review for Hubie Halloween (2020)

Unfortunately, Adam Sandler was snubbed, robbed even. Naturally, the Sandman held to his word after once again being disgraced by the Academy, critics, and the public. He was ready to prove that what they already thought of him was true. A lazy, tired clown who makes movies with his friends from his Saturday Night Live era. The film he released after Uncut Gems that he claimed would be so bad on purpose was called Hubie Halloween, and boy, did it live up to the hype.

Firstly, Hubie Halloween is sick and cynical. Throughout the film, Hubie (a tired caricature of the typical character in a Sandler comedy) is made fun of by his peers, children, and the police force of his hometown. Hubie (a vehicle for Sandler) is a laughing stock, a clown to be made fun of. Sandler, the actor, has left the building. Hubie Halloween is a depressing look at a man who is angry and tired of the world. It’s a reflection of an actor who tried and failed in their mind. What does a man who has failed to gain any acknowledgment and respect from his peers do? He goes back to the tired routine once more, with his second attempt at a sequel since Grown Ups 2: Murder Mystery 2, which has not come out yet at this time of writing.


Conclusion

While Sandler seems to be making his pictures out of spite, with Hubie Halloween, and his quote on The Howard Stern Show supporting this idea, there is nothing to indicate that he harbors any negative feelings towards what he’s made in the past. The fall from grace of Sandler being hyped and praised throughout the Oscar-season must have been a wild ride for the man himself. He changed his entire wardrobe from the long nightshirts with memes like troll face and basketball shorts to designer fashion suits, putting on a professional facade. He seemed optimistic with his win at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards, he seemed genuinely happy at the recognition for his work. Being snubbed at the Academy made him turn right back to the old Sandler. Making more movies where he is seen as the dim-witted, low-brow comedian that uses fart jokes and physical humor as a crutch. Continuing to make essentially bland and lifeless films. Hubie Halloween reflected that idea. I don’t think Sandler hates what he makes. He is just tired. We’re seeing the same loop of Sandler’s career. Another sequel, rehashing tired ideas, going on vacations for films while not trying anything new creatively. He is willing to profit off the title of simplistic comedies, but Adam will forever be stuck in the same trap, because critically, he’s a joke.

I used to have this odd parasitic relationship with Grown Ups 2. I would use it to open myself up to people, bonding with would-be friends as a jaded teenager by picking through its flaws and relishing in its bland incompetence. Jokingly, I tried to make this film a musical, to create something artistic out of the material packaged in its one hour and forty-minute runtime, purely sarcastically in hindsight. In high school, this movie felt like a knife being driven into my very soul. If it wasn’t honest or complex, if it didn’t cater to the formulaic expectations of critics and the all-powerful Academy, how could Grown Ups 2 be any good? How could it be worth anything to anyone, even me? Lost in my cynicism, I told myself a lie for seven years, but now, the truth has finally caught up with me: Grown Ups 2 is beautiful in its simplicity.