Brow Beat

How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?

Promotional poster for Funny People © Universal Pictures

Netflix has announced an agreement with Adam Sandler whereby the comedian and actor will produce and star in four movies to be released exclusively by the streaming service. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Netflix’s head of content, Ted Sarandos, explained that the company was interested in working with Sandler because his movies are so popular on their site. “People love Adam’s films on Netflix and often watch them again and again. His appeal spans across viewers of all ages—everybody has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite line—not just in the U.S. but all over the world,” Sarandos explained.

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Sandler has become a punch line to many people—and not the good kind of punch line. He has made so many awful movies, won so many Razzies, seemingly phoned in so many performances, that it has become easy to overlook the more ambitious work that he has done: Punch-Drunk Love, for instance, or Spanglish, or Reign Over Me. Even if only one of those movies was an unqualified artistic success (the one directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, naturally), they do suggest a desire on Sandler’s part to stretch out dramatically, and to use his undeniable screen presence for something other than the crassest kind of humor. As the critic Bilge Ebiri argued recently on Vulture, there’s a “profound sense of self-loathing at the heart of all his work,” which can be surprisingly affecting. That self-loathing was perhaps most on the surface in Funny People, his second-best serious movie, which also demonstrated a self-awareness about the creative compromises he has made, telling, as it did, the story of a once-funny comedian who has cashed in on his fame with a string of awful movies. Perhaps the commercial freedom offered by Netflix will allow Sandler to plumb such depths again. In what is perhaps a positive sign, Sandler has just starred in two movies that showed at the Toronto Film Festival.

Sandler also released a statement about the deal. “When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only.…Netflix rhymes with Wet Chicks. Let the streaming begin!!!!”

Yeah, these movies are going to be terrible.

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