Words by Knickie Duchatellier
It’s always tragic to watch one of our favorite Saturday Night Live comedians fall from laughing grace and land so hard to the point where their acting credibility is questioned. No, we’re not taking shots at Chris Kattan, or for lack of debate, Eddie Murphy (yea, we said it). We’re talking Bobby Boucher: Adam Sandler. But come to think of it, if there’s one argument to be had concerning The Waterboy star, it’s that his film career is headed towards the same disaster lane as Murphy’s 1990s comedic drought.
Despite starring in some of the worst reviewed movies of all time (reference film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes), Sandler, like his SNL brethren, has proven time and time again to be a box office draw, while ranking among the Top 5 list of overpaid actors in Tinsel Town. But considering the dwindling fan interest from his recent stinkers, you would swear he had traveled back in time and taken career tips from Murphy himself, or worse, his agent. God, this is already sounding like a treatment for the next Happy Madison film. All jokes aside though, while most comedians have taken Murphy’s rough stretch as a blueprint of what not to follow, it’s obvious Sandler hasn’t.
Let’s take a retrospective look at Murphy’s midlife film career. After coming off some of his biggest performances ever in Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop during the 80s, he failed to capitalize on his comedic stronghold after cult classics such as Boomerang and underdeveloped sequels like Beverly Hills Cop 3 failed to attract huge audiences. Things practically spiraled downhill throughout the entire decade as other cinematic atrocities (most notably Holy Man) quickly branded Murphy a has-been. In fact, out of the 10 plus films he starred in during the 90s, two would go on to become blockbusters—those being two comedy remakes—The Nutty Professor and Doctor Dolittle. Luckily he pulled himself from the dung pit for a brief period after DreamWorks enlisted his services to voice a cartoon donkey for its acclaimed animated flick, Shrek. But that didn’t stop him from producing more disasters all through the millennium. We’ll spare you the Pluto Nash quips.
On the end, Sandler has managed to stupefy audiences with his critically panned, slapstick projects, making it quite clear that the comedian has overstayed his big-screen welcome the past few years. With the exception of Grown Ups, which still stands as one of his worst reviewed films, Sandler’s recent work has resulted in some of his lowest attendance records. Working on an average film budget ranging from $50 to $100 million, calamities Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Bedtime Stories, and the Judd Apatow-directed Funny People have either barely cracked or failed to reach the $100 million mark. Some might say if it wasn’t for Sandler owning his own production company, most Hollywood studios wouldn’t fund any off his films. We prefer questioning how any of them were greenlit from the start.
Sandler’s recent comedy Jack and Jill throws up some more red flags that enraptures our debate. Like Murphy, he is beginning to bank on the comedic palate of children to keep intact his acting market value. The lifetime gross of his recent films is steadily declining in comparison to his more successful hits. The quality of his resume is, to say the least, odious. And he’s becoming too comfortable in drag. Need we say more?
Having acknowledged Sandler’s previous failures to tackle more serious roles, along with an immediate return to his farce style of comedy: he’s proven to be no more than a one-dimensional comedian with little to offer audiences besides the same slapstick performances. So we ask: Can Sandler really pull himself out of an Eddie Murphy drought? We see it as a long shot, but if Sandler takes a long break from Hollywood and collects his royalties peacefully, he’s bound for at least a TV comeback. Hey, it worked for Chevy Chase, didn’t it?