This past Friday I visited a friend of mine who's recovering from surgery and, needless to say, we discussed movies quite a bit. One difference in opinion we debated revolved around our favorite Adam Sandler films. While critics have repeatedly crushed Sandler's work throughout the years (and many times it's been warranted), I've always admired the performer as one of those rare actors successful at making the leap from comedy to drama. With his return to romantic comedies alongside longtime film-companion Drew Barrymore in this Summer's release, Blended, I decided to devote May's Movie List of the Month (here's April's List) to Adam Sandler's greatest films.
Honorable Mention: Click, Big Daddy, Airheads and Mr. Deeds.
#5. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Shortly following the turn of the millennium, five-time Academy Award Nominee Paul Thomas Anderson (director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood) saw something in Sandler that no one else ever had. The well-respected filmmaker cast him as the lead in Punch-Drunk Love, the story of a troubled and awkward novelty supplier who falls for an English woman after a chance encounter, and it changed Sandler's career forever. While the film comes with its glaring faults and it's never been regarded as one of PTA's best, the iconic feature left a significant imprint on Sandler's time in the industry.
#4. Billy Madison (1995)
Every great career has its first milestone and Sandler's began in grand fashion with arguably the most quotable comedy of all-time, Billy Madison. Sure, the story of a deadbeat son who repeats his entire schooling career at an accelerated pace to prove to his father that he's worthy of taking over the family company is completely absurd, but who hasn't stolen a genius one-liner and used it in a social setting? I used the famous, "anymore brain busters" just last week. Truth be told, most critics would turn up there noses at Billy Madison's immature and ludicrous intentions. However, Sandler's comedic breakthrough was a staple of my adolescence and one that I'll cherish forever.
#3. The Wedding Singer (1998)
Like I mentioned earlier, Sandler has frequented the romantic-comedy genre quiet a few times with co-star Drew Barrymore. Blended arrives in theatres this upcoming weekend and prior to that there was 50 First Dates. Yet, the Sandler-Barrymore tag-team duo began in 1998's iconic comedy classic, The Wedding Singer. Sandler stars as a hopeless romantic who's stranded at the alter on his wedding day. Unable to cope and carry out his duties as a first class singer of a wedding band, he befriends the engaged and soon to be Julia Guglia (what a name!) who helps guide him out of his emotional rut. The laughs are endless, the story is wholesome and the journey back to the 80s is nothing short of spectacular (we love you Billy Idol).
#2. Reign Over Me (2007)
I'll never forget the first moment I was blown away by Sandler's acting chops. He returned to dramas in 2007 with Mike Binder's Reign Over Me, which tells the heartbreaking story of a man who lost his family during the 911 attacks on New York City. Sandler gives a phenomenal turn as this emotionally unstable individual who reconnects with an old college friend (brilliantly played by Don Cheadle) as they slowly piece his life back together. Although the film obviously caters to its sentiment, Reign Over Me is an earnest tale brought to life by the indisputable talents of its leading star.
#1. Happy Gilmore (1996)
In the mid 90s Adam Sandler was the face of comedy (alongside superstar Jim Carrey of course). If Billy Madison was the film that put him on the map, Happy Gilmore is the one that allowed him to conquer it. The 1996 comedy centers around an untalented hockey player named Happy who discovers his remarkable ability for hitting a golf ball. Therefore, after his grandmother's house is taken by the bank, Happy must push his ego aside and use his golfing talents to generate income and buy back the residence. Happy Gilmore is the quintessential comedy. It has everything you could ever ask for, from a fistfight with Bob Barker to a midget cowboy doing the bull dance. Happy Gilmore is a comedy classic right up there with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber. Sandler has brought us decades of laughs and, despite his altered career path of late, he'll always be remembered as a true face of comedy.