While most people still consider Adam Sandler a major movie comedy star, something happened to his films along the way after going through a period of mammoth success. He was slowly turning into the Jerry Lewis of his generation with 1990s successes “Happy Gilmore” and “The Waterboy.” With other substantial hits through the mid-2000s, it might have seemed incomprehensible that Sandler was getting paid massive bucks for his type of comedy, yet his fans never seemed to stop eating it up. Much of this seemed to hit a brick wall, however, starting in the mid 2000s. Whether it was people realizing that much of his comedy catered to below the belt, or it was just a matter of the writing not conveying it well enough, Sandler kicked off a string of staggering failures.
Even if his executive producing arm seemed to be stronger, his own starring projects were turning into such comedic laziness as “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” “Grown Ups,” and the ultimate of all, “That’s My Boy.”
The latter film above was cited as one of the worst movie comedy experiences of perhaps this decade and perhaps the last one. It also seemed to nearly doom any more solo movie projects for Sandler who might have been just too one-note to sustain his comedy for multiple decades. Within that analysis, though, we had to look back and remember how much movie magic was created when Sandler worked with Drew Barrymore.
During Sandler’s true renaissance era of the late 1990s, “The Wedding Singer” was one of the greatest examples of a banal romantic comedy being vastly improved based on the chemistry of the leads. When Sandler and Barrymore were in a scene together, Barrymore seemed to improve Sandler to a point where he became instantly likable. Some rare acting partnerships simply work that way where they inspire a co-star to bring out their best personality and performance. With mutual respect always being obvious between them in interviews, it’s clear they’ve become one of those rare movie teams that you can’t duplicate.
If so, what does it mean for Adam Sandler’s solo movie projects when he doesn’t seem quite as likeable by himself as he did in his younger days? Perhaps he’ll get another chance at solo projects now that “Blended” with Drew Barrymore is going to be a substantial hit. While the comedy in it doesn’t seem to be much different than any other Sandler comedy, will Hollywood be persuaded to place Barrymore and Sandler together in a longer string of movies like Hepburn and Tracy?
The Anatomy of a Movie Team
When you have a movie team as good as Barrymore and Sandler, you really shouldn’t wait a decade to work in movies together again. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy realized this from the get-go, even if they also had a thing for each other that went beyond pure acting. Outside of both being married with kids, Sandler and Barrymore obviously have a flirting sense going on in all their scenes, which makes for the best movie teams. You always wonder what’s going on under the internal wheel turning. Fifty years after the fact, it’s always fun to see that chemistry play out on screen, and it’s still fun with Hepburn and Tracy, plus all the other great male-female team-ups in film history. There’s also plenty of psychoanalysis to be had when watching the marrieds like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton acting opposite each other.
The ones who aren’t married, though, are sometimes even more fascinating because the flirting between the two actors makes for speculative romantic interest between the team. It also breeds much wittier lines that might even be spontaneous when it’s allowed.
With plenty of more story characters and situations possible with Barrymore and Sandler, both would be crazy not to do more movies together at least every couple of years. Sandler seems to be moving more into cartoon voice work (and more executive producing) lately to get away from the seemingly stalled solo ventures. For the sake of his own film legacy, working with Barrymore would bring a good movie team back when there’s very few of them around right now other than Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Also, with Barrymore having varied success with her own solo ventures, she can nurture the romantic comedy back to when she helped contribute to its 21st century sensibility.