It’s the way Adam Sandler delivers lines like, “My dry cleaner showed up?” that makes me like him. I cannot help it. He’s got this jovial, I’ve known you forever kind of vibe. It also does kind of feel like I’ve known (“known” is relative) him forever. He’s been famous since I was born. He’s been making these kinds of movies since I was seven or eight.
I think most young men from my generation go through an Adam Sandler phase. There was a time when one of my favourite movies was Mr. Deeds. I also have a distinct memory of another class in my school getting to watch Happy Gilmore, and that that made me envious. Sandler looms large from about age eight or nine to age 13 or 14.
And yet he keeps cropping up, still, to this day. He’s friends with so many creatives I’ve continued to like (or come to like) since my Adam Sandler phase that I can’t fully escape him. Just when I forget he exists, he makes an appearance at the MTV Kids’ Choice Awards to read out some deranged list, or on Letterman’s show for a tribute.
The Do-Over is the second movie in Sandler’s Netflix deal of four, and it’s the second movie in which he hasn’t just made it about the location, and phoned everything in. He really goes for something here. There are a surprising amount of twists, and a good amount of setups and payoffs (immature ones, but setups and payoffs nonetheless).
Spade’s character Charlie has a crappy life. He’s in a loveless marriage and he works at a bank situated in a grocery store. When he attends his high school reunion, he runs into Sandler’s character Max, who has apparently become what he always wanted: an FBI agent. Max convinces Charlie to leave his family for a little while and vacation with him. “It was just like it was in high school,” Charlie narrates dreamily, as we see a shot of him peeing everywhere but in the toilet bowl. Just as Charlie thinks maybe it’s time to go back to his life, he wakes up in a motorboat, gliding away from an exploded yacht, then again in a bed, with Max looking over him. Max tells him he’s set it up to look like they were killed, so they have their whole lives ahead of them, wide open, as two new people: Charlie as Dr. Ronald P. Fishman (“probably Jewish?”), and Max as Butch Ryder.
It’ll take too long to describe the entire plot here, and because this is a Netflix Adam Sandler movie, no one wants me to, but it involves a cure for cancer; a German hitman nicknamed “The Gymnast,” played by the same guy who played the doctor in Funny People; my ultimate crush, Kathryn Hahn, as Max’s wife; Luis Guzmán in possibly his worst role; and Matt Walsh as pretty much just a nice southern guy.
This is a sprawling epic of a plot. If it was not homophobic (and by that I don’t mean anti-gay, it’s not anti-gay, I mean afraid of homosexuality); if it starred more attractive actors as the male leads; and if it had less throwaway lines like the one at the beginning of this article, no one would bat an eye if they read this as the plot for a new half-baked Mark Wahlberg action movie. But that’s the trouble with a track record and a big public persona. People remember you, Adam Sandler! They might not like you, but they remember you, and that’s ruining your chances for a career high. You were in Punch-Drunk Love, not Paul Thomas Anderson’s best movie by a long shot, but a Paul Thomas Anderson movie nonetheless! Prove your worth! With this, I can see you’ve started the climb, but you’re a long way away. Even just a rise to Funny People level would be great. Meet with Apatow. See what he can do for you. Have him produce your third and fourth Netflix films. Netflix would kill for a deal like that. They already have him for Love.
Come on, man. Just try.
Note: the rating above is for an Adam Sandler movie. The same rules don’t apply.
Note: The number of pan ups from water to beach front resorts is absurd. Also nice Bill Gates reference, Spade. Real topical.
Note: I have something I want to say to all of the great actors that participate in Sandler’s movies: why? Not even considering whether or not the movies are good, people don’t like them. Kathryn Hahn, you are incredible. Your work on Transparent has made that show. Sean Astin, what the fuck happened, buddy? You were Samwise! You were in Toy Soldiers! Natasha Leggero, you’re kind of funny! Aim higher! Matt Walsh, you’re on Veep!
Note: Where’s my Buscemi cameo? I love that he’s game to do Sandler’s stuff, because he balances it out with a career of working with The Coen Bros., Louie CK, and leading his own HBO series.