We’ve been here before with Adam Sandler. Way back when, I thought his trailer for That’s My Boy was an appallingly awful piece of hideous garbage. (And the New York Times linked to me! Hey, that was cool!) I’m proud to say I haven’t seen the film, but a 21% rating on RottenTomatoes accompanied by its failure to even break even at the box office have me feeling wonderful about that. Oh, and, Wikipedia quotes several sources in saying “the film has been criticized for its comedic portrayal of statutory rape, pedophilia and incest.” Well, then!
Sandler, ever-self-aware, has thankfully decided to finally break out of the mold of terrible-sounding comedies with a familiar cast of faces…wait, what’s that? He’s writing a comedy western that’ll be a knock-off of The Magnificent Seven with Tim Herlihy, a writer on eight Sandler movies and a producer on four others? He’s providing his own spin on an all-time classic that ranks as the second-most shown movie in U.S. television history? (Without looking, you can probably guess the first.) Also, wasn’t this already done in Three Amigos?
Sandler’s upcoming film, titled The Ridiculous 6, sounds obviously terrible from the start. But look deeper and realize that there are enablers here. Sandler’s coming off the box-office bomb of That’s My Boy, and it seems that people might finally be starting to catch up to his awful shtick. (Granted, upcoming sequel Grown Ups 2 will likely make a killing at the box office.) So is a western really a good idea? The western genre is total box-office poison in Hollywood these days, and I doubt Sandler will change that, even with a supposed spoof. You know the budget will be gigantic. You know that Sandler will go to the well of his buddies for the lead roles (James, Spade, Schneider, etc., etc., etc…). And you know that Sandler doesn’t guarantee a huge profit anymore.
I hate to go back to the well of “Sandler is picking terrible projects” here, but it’s just too frustratingly easy, especially when there’s another possible Sandler flick that hasn’t been heard from in quite a while. We found out in June that Sandler was slated to co-star alongside Will Ferrell in Three Mississippi, a comedy about rival small-town teams in an annual Thanksgiving football game. Is that the greatest concept in the world on paper? Certainly not. Does a rumored cast of Ferrell, Sandler, Alec Baldwin, Rob Riggle and Jeremy Renner make that sound a little more appealing? Um, yes. It sounds like the unexpected pickup of Ferrell’s Anchorman 2 may have pushed back the plans here, but let’s hope this gets made with a cast similar to the rumored one. While Ferrell doesn’t have a perfect track record, his comedies have proven to generally be much funnier and, yes, sharper than Sandler’s. Could you see Sandler take on the lead role in something like Anchorman, Talladega Nights or even the critically underrated Step Brothers? Not a chance.
My faith in Sandler still remains after Funny People, which I’ll defend to my dying breath. Since the last Sandler post, I’ve seen Paul Thomas Anderson’s wacko comedy Punch-Drunk Love, which generally seems to be regarded as Sandler’s critically defining performance. Call me crazy, but I don’t see it – in fact, I absolutely hated Punch-Drunk Love. But I’m in a fairly clear minority, as Sandler won raves and accolades for that performance a decade ago. Since then? Outside of Funny People, we’re still waiting. And that’s a damn shame, because a western spoof doesn’t sound like it’s going to change any of that.