No./19 Welcome to the year of the Sandman
Adam Sandler is set to have his most creatively daring year yet. Here’s why we need to pay him more attention
TO PARAPHRASE ONE particular meme: Adam Sandler is unbothered, moisturised, happy, in his lane, focused, and flourishing. 2023 is a huge one for the actor. He has three films due to be released — including the serious sci-fi drama Spaceman, and Leo, an animated musical in which he plays a 74-year-old lizard. He is riding high on some of the best reviews of his career for last year’s sports drama, Hustle. And he’s about to start shooting what could, perhaps, be his most exciting work yet. Are we about to experience Peak Sandler?
’Twas not ever thus. In the early-to-mid-2010s, Sandler’s career seemed to hit a nadir: he was starring in a succession of critically reviled comedies; he was regularly getting nominated for ‘Worst Actor’ at the Razzie Awards; and films such as The Cobbler were flopping.
Then, two things happened. In 2014, Netflix signed a partnership with his production company, Happy Madison, the start of a hugely fruitful partnership which continues to this day (next up is the cheerful, Agatha Christie-riffing Murder Mystery 2, out in March). The streamer still feels like the best fit for Sandler to do what he does well, and most comfortably: goof off in silly, broad, easily accessible bro-medies with his regular troupe of pals and loved ones. (His 84-year-old mother just filmed a cameo in new comedy You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah!.)
The other thing that happened: he was cast by Josh and Benny Safdie in 2019’s thriller Uncut Gems. Bonding over a shared Jewish heritage, the directing brothers recognised something in Sandler, a nervous energy that was both riveting and terrifying to watch; it should have at least earned him an Oscar nomination. (“Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the Academy,” Sandler tweeted of the snub. “Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits.”)
It was a collaboration so significant that Sandler and the Safdies are currently gearing up to shoot their next film, a currently untitled thriller set in “the world of high-end card collecting”, according to Deadline.
“This movie we’re going to do is pretty amazing,” Sandler told The Hollywood Reporter. “The first draft was 340 pages! It was insane and it was great.” Insane and great: yep, Peak Sandler might just be on its way.