Rumored to be one of the richest individuals in Hollywood, it’s fair to say that big-time actor, comedian, and film producer, Adam Sandler has conquered the film industry several times over. With a net worth believed to be in the region of $420 million, Sandler’s movies have also earned more than $3 billion at the box office, making him one of Hollywood’s most commercially successful individuals.
During his time making movies for Sony Pictures, Adam Sandler received a base salary of $20 million per movie (plus 20-25% of each film’s gross profits), however his more recent four-film agreement with Netflix is said to be worth around $250 million. In any case, Sandler makes a fortune per movie.
While Sandler’s movies have always been successful on a commercial level, the star has always struggled to draw superlatives and positive reviews from film critics.
His history of past movies, although huge box office hits, have also won him several Golden Raspberry Awards, which are said to honor the worst of cinematic under-achievements.
Adam Sandler’s Biggest Movies
When looking at Sandler’s filmography, it’s important to note that many of the New York-born actor’s productions are very similar in tone and style, which is generally referred to as blue humor.
Sandler launched his career as a comedian with a penchant for making and starring in movies. His debut movie, ‘Going Overboard’ (1989), was released when Sandler was in his early twenties and, while largely going unnoticed upon release, was released again after Sandler had landed more success in standout hits like ‘Happy Gilmore’.
One of Sandler’s most adored comedies, ‘Big Daddy’ is a certified fan favorite where Sandler stars as Sonny Koufax, a full-time layabout who starts looking after a child named Sonny (played by Cole Sprouse).
Again, garnering largely negative reviews from critics, the film went down really well on a commercial level and won the hearts of viewers along with the People’s Choice Award for Favourite Comedy Motion Picture.
The success of ‘Big Daddy’ is perhaps best reflected by the film earning a colossal $234 million, which is almost seven times its original budget. Love it or hate it, it’s difficult to see the 1998 film as anything else but a roaring success.
Fast forward a decade or so to 2010 and Sandler starred in another big box office hit – ‘Grown Ups’.
Paired up with actors (and friends in real life) Chris Rock, David Spade, and Kevin James, ‘Grown Ups’ is the story of four childhood friends reuniting and taking their respective families to an idyllic lake house for the weekend.
Another blue comedy film, ‘Grown Ups’ grossed $271.4 million worldwide against an $80 million budget. But you guessed it, while performing spectacularly well commercially, the film flopped critically.
One Empire review said the film was a “Smug and lazy comedy that barely raises a chuckle”, while another said the whole experience was akin to “being sat on by all your least favourite school bullies”.
One critic targeted the chemistry between the star-studded cast, saying the film was “a puerile extended in-joke between Adam Sandler and friends”.
Funnily enough, though, one of Sandler’s biggest commercial hits was one that he didn’t actually physically act in. The animated comedy ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ sees Sandler take up the role of Count Dracula in the second film of the franchise.
Having co-written the movie, Sandler’s work proved to be a massive box office hit, earning $473 million worldwide against an $80 million budget.
Receiving mixed reviews, the animated movie showed critics that Sandler’s comedy and understanding of form were more nuanced than they may have initially thought.
Critical Acclaim at Long Last
It’s well worth noting that the films in which Sandler has received critical acclaim are few and far between, but non-existent they certainly are not.
‘Funny People’ (2009), which was directed by Hollywood heavyweight Judd Apatow, is one of the rare movies where Sandler takes on a more serious role. A dark comedy, ‘Funny People’ explores comedy as a vocation and looks at stark subjects such as living with a terminal illness.
However, as good as ‘Funny People’ was, it paled in comparison to the A24 production ‘Uncut Gems’ (2020) which saw Sandler take on his most serious role yet. Playing the part of Howard Ratner, Sandler starred in one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year.
Receiving an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, one critic said that while Sandler has done serious roles before, “nothing will prepare you for this adrenaline-pumped film that feels like a plunge into a vat of battery acid”.
Ironically, despite winning the praise of critics around the world, the film actually didn’t go down hugely well with movie-goers, with the film only getting a 52% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
So ultimately, I guess the moral of the story is that you can’t win them all, but you can make a hell of a lot of money trying.