The top 10 Adam Sandler performances

The top 10 Adam Sandler performances. By Simon Miraudo.

It’s been a tough week for Adam Sandler. The former Saturday Night Live star’s latest feature Jack and Jill collected a record breaking 10 Razzies at the annual Golden Raspberry awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Sandler), and Worst Actress (again, Sandler). Making matters worse: there are only ten categories. Now, we’re not necessarily saying that he didn’t deserve the accolades (those of you who’ve actually seen Jack and Jill know he most certainly did). However, there are a number of reasons why he remains a dominant force at the box office, and holds a special place in the heart of many a movie-lover. In a similar manner to the defence of Nicolas Cage we recently mounted, here are our picks for the top 10 Adam Sandler performances; from his comforting comedy turns to his risky, arthouse adventures. Read on, remember why you fell in love with him, and let’s all pretend I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry never happened.

10. Henry Roth in 50 First Dates

Sandler reunited with his Wedding Singer (that’ll come up later) co-star Drew Barrymore in this surprisingly affecting rom-com. There’s not a lot to the character of Henry Roth – he’s a womaniser who discovers his romantic side while trying to repeatedly court a woman unable to create new memories – but he offers Sandler an opportunity to work his cheeky, charming shtick.

9. Dave Buznik in Anger Management

Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson may not exactly be equals on the acting stage, but at least they’re fun antagonists here. You may be interested to know that Charlie Sheen is set to star in the Nicholson role of anger management therapist in an upcoming TV adaptation (but probably not).

8. Happy Gilmore in Happy Gilmore

Look, we’re not going to argue for the deep investment and powerful character moments in each of his comic performances, but Happy Gilmore is a very funny flick and Sandler is a big reason why. Well, him and Bob Barker.

7. Sonny Koufax in Big Daddy

Big Daddy is one of the few Sandler-penned movies that actually features an interesting cast of characters. Though unwitting new father and irresponsible man-child Sonny Koufax may not seem like a difficult or impressive stretch for the actor, the fact that he’s supported by real-seeming human beings (played by Jon Stewart, Leslie Mann, Joey Lauren Adams) helps add some pathos to his personality.

6. Charlie Fineman in Reign Over Me

In his one and only flat-out dramatic role, Sandler starred as a grieving New Yorker who loses his wife and child in the 9/11 attacks. The picture is far from perfect, but Sandler’s gutsy work and chemistry with co-star Don Cheadle‘s elevate it significantly.

5. Zohan Dvir in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

The biggest problem with recent Sandler films like Just Go With It and Bedtime Stories is that he just seems so bored by it all. And if he’s not having a good time, we’re not having a good time. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is far from his funniest (certainly not more so than Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore), but he gives it all he’s got as the titular Mossad hit-man turned hairdresser.

4. Billy Madison in Billy Madison

“If he’s not having a good time, we’re not having a good time.” The opposite is also true. Billy Madison is very silly, but it made a star of the recent SNL graduate thanks to his anarchic abandon.

3. George Simmons in Funny People

Sandler viciously satirised his own career by playing former-comedy-genius-turned-Hollywood-hack George Simmons in Judd Apatow‘s semi-autobiographical Funny People. Not only that, he was called upon to play a man dealing with a terminal illness. Later, he has to pull a 180 and depict a selfish jerk with a clean bill of health. He delivers on all fronts.

2. Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer

He’s never been more charming than as the lovelorn Wedding Singer, and charm is a quality not given nearly enough credit. It’s intangible, but priceless, and exactly what’s necessary for frothy comedies like this. To quote Steve Buscemi‘s drunken best man: “He’s a good wedding singer.”

1. Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love

Auteur Paul Thomas Anderson trusted Adam Sandler to tap into the darker recesses of the slow-witted, sex-crazed, and rage-filled personas he’d employed prior in Punch-Drunk Love. As Barry Egan, a toiler-plunger salesman in debt to a phone-sex line, he is equally pitiable and terrifying. Watching him fall in love with the delicate Lena and gain control of his dangerous impulses was one of the great pleasures of 2002. In fact, it remains a pleasure 10 years later too.

Discuss: OK, what did we miss?

2 Responses to “The top 10 Adam Sandler performances”

  1. the best Adam Sandler movies, or rather the _only good_ Sandler movies are those examples like ‘Todd’s Coma’ where he was executive producer but not involved in writing or acting.

  2. I thought Click was quite a good movie with a good moral

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