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“Adam Sandler is an asshile”, [sic] according to studio exec, Amy Pascal, in one of many leaked Sony emails last year. Since 1995, Sandler has continuously churned out films using the exact same formula with, more or less, the exact same character, and yielding an offense of critical panning, all the while booking exceptionally large revenues. Over his 20-year career, he has bankrolled nearly $3 billion; however, with only $3.20 turned over for every dollar he’s compensated, Sandler is the most overpaid actor in Hollywood, and his high remuneration demands make him all the less bankable. Last year, he ambitiously pitched an idea for a $200 million movie based on the CandyLand board game (wut?). Sony said no, and Pascal used a misspelled insult.
Despite his bite into producers’ budgets, he has been a cash cow, but not from Lewis Road Creamery, nor even Farmgate. The quality of his films is more analogous to the carton milk drunk in American elementary schools. His filmography mean score is a meek 32 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty shit. It’s a bit of a conundrum who goes to see Sandler films and why, given that they are funding the shameful Sandler legacy. I imagine the target demographic is something like “12-year-old boys who still think it’s funny to set fire to paper-bagged dog shit on their neighbour’s doorstep”. Either way, my sense is that Sandler films sit in the “so bad, it’s good” category of films, alongside Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. This sweet spot compels people to purchase Sandler movie tickets en masse for the enjoyment of cringing.
We saw this behaviour from New Zealand comedians Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt, in their “Worst Idea of All Time” podcasts, in which they reviewed the sequel to Sandler’s Grown Ups every week for a year. It’s fairly rationale to argue that the publicity the movie attracted for being so bad helped it to be such a commercial hit, earning over quarter of a billion worldwide. This is the Sandler money machine in motion—designing dumb movies that fuel the public’s hunger to cringe.
I would never condone calling someone an asshile, but it’s easy to sympathise with Pascal. It was okay to think Sandler was funny when you were 12, but, in 2015, it’s hard to laugh at a man nearly in his 50s have arbitrary anger outbursts and make fart jokes. Next time you’re desperate to cringe, watch one of the classics like Battlefield Earth. Don’t do it for Sony or Pascal, do it for CandyLand.