Happy Gilmore (1996)

Happy GilmoreReleased: February 16, 1996. Directed by: Dennis Dugan. Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen. Runtime: 92 min.

“Happy Gilmore” is a silly sports comedy, which is its purpose; but God is it funny. Sandler plays the titular Happy Gilmore, a hockey-player-turned-golf-player because he has a wicked slap shot, but he can’t exactly skate so well. He takes his hockey skills and places them on the golf course, even if he has a hard time tapping the ball in sometimes. To help him with that is a love interest, Virginia Venet (Julie Bowen), and a former golf pro, Chubbs (Carl Weathers) to teach him how to improve on his game.

Happy’s motivation to join the golf tour is his grandmother, who hasn’t paid her taxes in years. Due to that, she loses her home – and in order to get it back, he’ll need some money.

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Fights with Bob Barker and other golfing patrons, distracting patrons yelling “Jackass!”, the villain, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), and endless product placement for Subway certainly makes this a satisfying and memorable Sandler movie. Oh, and then there is Ben Stiller’s turn as a crazed worker at the retirement home Gilmore’s grandmother stays at.

“Happy Gilmore” is a sweet, if entirely predictable sports comedy, and one of my favourite golf movies, even if it’s not in the same league as “Caddyshack.” It is still both Adam Sandler’s and director Dennis Dugan’s strongest comedies. I find myself laughing at this every time, no matter how many times I watch it.

There are solid chuckles throughout, and truly hilarious scenes. People will, of course, like it a lot more if they enjoy Sandler’s brand of comedy. This character gets very angry, which makes the title ironic. He’s a nice guy who means well, even if he’s generic to a fault. He is one of Sandler’s best characters. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Sandler’s “Anger Management” movie was a sequel to this?

Score83/100

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The Longest Yard (2005)

The Longest YardReleased: May 27, 2005. Directed by: Peter Segal. Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds. Runtime: 110 min.

“The Longest Yard” follows Paul Wrecking Crewe (Adam Sandler), who, after being charged with Grand Theft Auto, finds himself in a Texas prison. Everyone takes their football pretty freaking seriously there. Crewe was charged for throwing an NFL football game, which was pretty important since it seemed everyone had bets on the game. (The storytelling isn’t good enough to remember what the stakes were in the game, exactly.) There wasn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt, but everybody still hates him. Once he gets into the prison, the Warden (James Cromwell) coerces him to coach a football team composed of convicts to face off against the Guards of the prison in their first game of the season.

I saw the original “Longest Yard” awhile back. (I should re-watch it.) It’s a very funny movie, funnier than this. This film is a very basic remake of it, but it’s not terrible. It’s quite enjoyable, actually. And there’s nothing better than a remake that has the approval of the original’s starring man. In fact, Burt Reynolds is one of the best parts of the movie. And it’s great that he’s there. Since the target audience is teenagers, they probably won’t even know that this is a remake. 

There are chuckles throughout the movie and it’s pretty decent for a traditional football film. It’s hilarious at times, mostly thanks to Chris Rock and Terry Crews, and often enough, Sandler. William Fichtner plays the main guard who thinks he runs the prison. He’s antagonistical and sends around mixed signals. His motivations are just irritating because he’s a cookie-cutter character. 

The football scenes are fun. It’s amusing to watch this football team of misfits become better and better. It’s even better watching them face the guards in the football game. Some of the background characters are hard to differentiate. They’re either Giant, a Kind Giant, or Faster than Fast, or Cheeseburger Eddie (Terry Crews). But the viewer will probably care about the more prominent characters. I think I’ve worn this movie out (Dang it), so I’ll re-visit the original “Longest Yard”. It’s probably much better, anyway. 

Score63/100

Triple review: ‘Bedtime Stories,’ ‘Mr. Deeds’ and ‘You Don’t Mess with the Zohan’

These are a few Sandler movies that are being reviewed from memory…

Bedtime StoriesReleased: December 25, 2008. Director: Adam Shankman. Stars: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce. Runtime: 99 min.

“Bedtime Stories” is imaginative and it’s one of Sandler’s more family-friendly efforts, but it’s lame, boring and forgettable.

Score38/100

 

Mr. Deeds

 

Released: June 28, 2002. Director: Steven Brill. Stars: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, John Turturro. Runtime: 96 min.

“Mr. Deeds” is a watchable Adam Sandler movie. You root for Longfellow Deeds because he’s a small-town guy trying to adapt to the big city life, and he’s likeable enough to wish for his happiness. Ryder’s character at first is extremely unlikeable. Like most comedies (with hints of romance), it’s predictable – and you’ll see Ryder’s change of heart from 96 minutes away. There’s a few laugh-out-loud moments (“I think I just shat myself!”) and a lot of chuckles, so it’s an entertaining comedy that I find myself always watching when it’s on TV. John Turturro is amusing in his supporting role. But I assume it’s inferior to the original, but I can’t comment on that because I haven’t seen it.

Score70/100

You Don't Mess with the ZohanReleased: June 6, 2008. Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui. Runtime: 113 min.

I watched this on TV the other week. I was half-paying attention and half on the computer, but even as part-background noise, it was still as awful as I remember it being at the theatre. The plot isn’t entirely stupid (An Israeli Special Forces Soldier fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist), at least compared to some of Sandler’s other works, but the humour is stupid. I like politically incorrect humour – but all I ask is that it’s funny, like some of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work (mostly just “Borat”). Sacha Baron Cohen, Sandler is not. This is a middling effort, but at least there’s an effort to make his character memorable, since he isn’t distinctive in all of his average guy roles. It’s really too bad that it’s also one of his worst characters. John Turturro tries his best, but even he can’t make this enjoyable.

Score38/100

Little Nicky (2000)

Little NickyReleased: November 10, 2000. Directed by: Steven Brill. Starring: Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Rhys Ifans. Runtime: 90 min.

I’m not sure why I give Dennis Dugan a hard time as a director. It isn’t that he’s a poor director; it’s just that the movies he directs are usually brought down its poor writing. But Steven Brill is probably the worst director out of Adam Sandler’s crew.

Little Nicky’s (Adam Sandler) two evil brothers Adrian (Rhys Ifans) and Cassius (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister) have just escaped from Hell and are wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting earth. His dad (Harvey Keitel) is disintegrating and it’s up to Nicky to save him and all of a humanity by midnight before one of his brothers becomes the new Satan.

“Little Nicky” is sort-of a guilty pleasure. Yeah, the premise is far-fetched, but it’s a fun movie. It’s not the worst movie out there, but I know it certainly isn’t the best. One main flaw about the movie is the soundtrack. It just feels like it was made the night before development started, from Rock N’ Roll’s greatest hits.

The main character, Nicky, isn’t exactly the greatest guy out there. He’s the son of Satan. He’s oddly likable, if one could get past his facial oddities. Patricia Arquette a great actress who makes for one of Sandler’s finest on-screen counterparts. In any other Sandler movie, she would not work. But Valerie’s, Arquette’s character, oddities really match the odd personality Nicky possesses. Arquette is sweet and softly-spoken, so she brings Valerie to life well.

The movie’s hilarious at times but the sentimentality doesn’t ring true, really; and the writers attempt to force the sweetness too much. I like the fish-out-of-water humour, and some of the cameos are hysterical. Dana Carvey as a referee, Whitey, who was actually a character in “Eight Crazy Nights,” portrayed by Sandler. Peter Dante and Jonathan Loughran are funny as people who hail Satan.

Quentin Tarantino is awesome as a Deacon who one would see on the streets, the cuckoo guy preaching God’s word. Reese Witherspoon shows up for a bit as a sexy angel. A character from one of Sandler’s classics makes a cameo. And Jon Lovitz shows up as a pervert peering in on a sexy mother, and get sent to hell for it. Whenever he shows up, Kool & The Gang’s Ladies Night sounds, and it’s a great touch.

You’ll only find this movie funny if you enjoy Sandlers’ shtick. He talks in a funny speech impediment throughout. It will get laughs from his fans. His character is distinctive because of the speech impediment. The movie lets us know that Nicky got his speech impediment by being hit in the face by a shovel by his brother Cassius. (Speaking of Nicky’s brothers, Rhys Ifans puts in an amusing turn as Adrian.) Why doesn’t anyone just hit him with a shovel early on again? Maybe it’s like amnesia? Reverse effect, guys…

The movie is completely stupid, but it knows it. So that’s good. That’s funny. But it would be better if it just feels like “Little Nicky,” not “Popeye’s Chicken presents: Little Nicky.” The comedy also gets extra points for shoving pineapples up Hitler’s ass. Thanks for the laughs, Satan.

Score63/100

The Animal (2001)

Animal, TheReleased: June 1, 2001. Directed by: Luke Greenfield. Starring: Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley. Runtime: 84 min.

After receiving organ transplants from various animal donors, a man finds himself taking on the traits of those animals.

“The Animal” is every bit as stupid as one might expect from its plot. Suffice to say, if you’re anticipating a criminally stupid movie, you won’t be disappointed. The cast is amusing, the conflicts are inane; one character thinks he can get away with anything because he’s black, and it gets insanely tedious – and it solves conflicts too easily.

There are some funnies. The jokes mainly involve the main character, Marvin (Schneider) who has to deal with his new animal instincts, and the way he deals with them may make you smile. Colleen Haskell of Season 1 of TV’s “Survivor” is attractive, but she’s about as good of an actress as one might expect from a reality TV show star. There’s not a lot notable about “The Animal.” It’s written by Rob Schneider and Tom Brady. Tom Brady the writer/director behind such hits as “The Hot Chick” and “Bucky Larson,” not Brady the New England Patriots quarterback. I wonder if the quarterback could do the writer’s job better?

Like I seem to be saying about all of the films Happy Madison Productions produces, it’s watchable. But watchable only means it’s not the worst way to kill 84 minutes, and it doesn’t do anything for the genre. The film is directed by first-time director Luke Greenfield.

I’ve always wondered why Adam Sandler has never directed a film. I mean, he’s the producer on all of his non-starring gigs, so it surprises me that he’s never directed anything yet. He has a decent vision, I’d say, with everything he writes, so if he’s willing to give a first-time director a chance with this – he could just do it himself. Why not, right? Maybe he’ll even have a minor hit on his hands? It probably wouldn’t hurt the movie he would direct/produce.

Score50/100

Shakes the Clown (1991)

Shakes the ClownReleased: March 13, 1992. Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait. Starring: Bobcat Goldthwait, Julie Brown, Blake Clark. Runtime: 87 min. 

Dark comedies are a difficult kind-of comedy to master. The Coen brothers have mastered the craft, as has Tarantino, and many other respected filmmakers. This is the attempt at a black comedy by an apparently funny guy named Bobcat Goldthwait, and I haven’t seen a movie prior to this that feels more like an Amateur Redneck Hour. You’ll also see no evidence of good comedy here.

The movie follows Shakes the Clown (Goldthwait) who lives in a town called Palukaville, where it seems that everyone is either a clown, a groupie for the clowns, or someone who gets jobs for the clowns. And there’s cops and mimes, too. Anyway, Shakes is a clown who is also a chronic alcoholic. He is threatened with unemployment if he cannot get his act together. Then, it gets really dark and someone frames Shakes for a murder.

There are many ideas to advance this plot, but the film-makers do not feel as if they run with those ideas. However, the unlikable characters make it very hard for the movie to be engaging. Shakes is a terrible person, but I guess that’s the point. Kathy Griffin and Julie Brown are the two main girls in this, and Brown has a terribly annoying voice.

Adam Sandler is one of the supporting characters. He doesn’t get many laughs. His character is afraid of women. There are many jokes related to bodily functions here, that show up within the first two minutes; but in Sandler’s own movies, he has the courtesy to wait more than two minutes to throw those at the audience.

This movie is like a pie in the face: unpleasant. It reminds me why I hate clowns. The clown world they live in is different, and I guess that’s the point of the movie; to be a different experience. But I’d also like it to be enjoyable. It gives viewers an insane portrait of Tom Kenny, the man who voices SpongeBob Squarepants.

I did chuckle about four times, but that’s not enough. You’ll have to decide whether or not you hate mimes or clowns more. Most are drunks, either way. This movie does get some points for an appearance from Robin Williams, and a lot of mimes get beaten up. Woo-hoo. It’s still a bland, stupid movie.

Score38/100

Going Overboard (1989)

Going OverboardReleased: May 12, 1989. Directed by: Valerie Breiman. Starring: Adam Sandler, Burt Young, Billy Zane. Runtime: 99 min.

At least Adam Sandler and director Valerie Breiman had the right idea with this one. I’m assuming they thought, “Hey… If we make a bad movie to start both of our careers, the worst movie of ours will be our first – so the only way we can go is up!” This is undoubtedly the worst movie of Sandler’s career. This is probably the worst comedy ever made, and the worst movie ever made; rivaling the likes of “Scary Movie 5” and “Miss March.”

It’s a grueling experience that follows Schecky Moskowitz (Sandler), a struggling comedian,  who takes a menial job aboard a cruise ship in hopes of breaking out into cruise ship comedy. (Is Schecky Moskowitz not the most Jewish name ever thought of?)

Apparently, the only thing worse than Sandler writing his own jokes is having others write them for him. Sandler’s Moskowitz is better than the cruise ship’s actual comedian, Dickie Diamond (Scott LaRose), but that doesn’t mean either are funny. Sandler is just a bit less of a dick than Dickie. If you giggled at that lame joke; that’s already one more laugh than the movie itself.

When the movie might actually be funny, it falls flat on its low-budget face. Milton Berle shows up briefly as himself, but even he cannot enliven the experience. It is mostly a fault of the filmmakers – because of their bad writing and because whenever Berle speaks, assuming everything he says is a true knee-slapper, a laugh track sounds. Apparently we’re supposed to laugh, but it won’t get even a smirk out of most. He tells Schecky that the power of laughter is the most important thing in the world. It comes into play later, but in a predictable way. There are no jokes at play, so not even a then-unknown 1989 Billy Bob Thorton can be funny.

The humour is idiotic, because it’s just completely unfunny. There’s a gag of this dirty-looking rocker called Croaker (Adam Rifkin, director of “Detroit Rock City“), equipped with a dirty moustache and braces who gets all the girls. It’s not funny because the look of him, and the things he says, upsets my stomach. And apparently an already unbearable movie isn’t complete until there’s a crappy ’80s music video. It is all completely random and this film makes me want to jump overboard.

People who think they are funny keep being told that they’re funny, but they are not. Some of the jokes have Sandler answering some questions, and then a series of supermodels begin to answer that same question. One of the questions he answers is “If he had one million dollars.” This is one of the supermodels’ replies, and bear with me: “I’d buy all the acne cream in the world so I can go around popping people’s zits. Mmmm. Pus.” (Did you just barf in your mouth a little, too?)

The plot becomes dumber and dumber. Somehow a military general (Burt Young) rented this video tape Schecky made (the movie we the audience are watching, or being tortured by) and pops it in, and later in, an Australian beauty pageant winner says he is smelly. He sends a few inept terrorists to kill her, and they show up later in the movie… on the boat Schecky is on… Somehow… And the General still gets to watch it all happen… Because maybe he’s… in a different dimension?… Or?… It simply defies all logic.

This is a pre-Saturday Night Live Sandler, where he makes funny faces he’ll later be known for, but he’s just incoherently dumb here. I guess he didn’t know better though. Everyone is incoherently dumb here. The whole movie is just a complete and utter train-wreck. The tedious humour in the film is R-rated because of its vulgarity, but the montages of girls in bikinis that the film is so obsessed with feels PG-rated. At one point in the film, Sandler says, with his eyes crossed, “Okay, before we get to that point in the story, here’s a montage of beautiful ladies.”

Since these “filmmakers” are obsessed with beautiful women but won’t bother to show any kind-of nudity, there’s something odd going on. Anyone who’s ever seen a National Lampoon movie should know that one or two pair of breasts will win over thirteen year-old males.

This is a complete waste of time, and I know that because, in my notes, I wrote the word ‘torture’ six times, and many other un-nice things. The first three uses of the word torture were used in the first 40 minutes, and there was still nearly an hour left at that point. This feature is an endurance test. I somehow made it through it all. Somehow. But hell, if one can make it through this, they can watch just about any bad movie. But I’d rather be shot by the inept terrorists’ obviously fake guns than ever watch this again.

Apparently this film was made because, as Schecky irritatingly tells his camera crew at the beginning, “This is a loosely thrown together story that we are making because we have access to this big boat and a lot of hot super models.” This is one of the many times he breaks the fourth wall and talks to the camera crew/director. It proceeds to have no plot, no direction, bad acting, a ludicrous story, and just a whole lot of random crap. Crap crap crap. I just have to say: If Sandler has a video camera, don’t let him near a cruise ship. Bad things happen when he’s on a cruise ship…

Score0/100