This is another article in a series of articles examining the films that Adam Sandler has written according to IMDB to see why his older films are so revered compared to his ones more recently. We'll look at critics reviews and take it one film at a time to see why he is so hated critically yet so loved at the box office.
Let's start by saying that we're not trying to place a definition on comedy itself as it is subjective because in a sense thinking about what makes you laugh is ironical and makes no sense. This is more of a personal journey on nostalgia and personal sense of humor. Maybe it'll lead to dark insight or nothing at all. If you find these films funny then pay no attention as you should with any movie or media you enjoy criticized to an umpteenth degree by anyone. Now on with Billy Madison.
For the very few who haven't seen Billy Madison, it revolves around Adam Sandler as a man child who days consist of getting drunk with mooching friends. His dad, a hotel chain owner, wants to step down from the company and hand it over to Billy but thinks he is too immature because he has bought his way through school and is thinking of handing the company over to his second in command, Eric. Billy, enraged by this, hatches a crazy plan in order to prove to his dad he can handle the company and that's to complete every grade from Kindergarten through 12th grade over 24 weeks with time to allow him for two weeks per grade. Billy's dad agrees to the crazy idea and Billy goes back to school to relearn everything.
First off, the acting which I know you can't judge too harshly especially in comedy but everyone here is spot on. But though everyone obviously loves Sandler's zaniness and this would kickstart his career, the real underrated hero though is Bradley Whitford as Eric Gordon who plays the villain in such a memorable way that you love to hate him with his squirrely antics.
Now the comedy still surprisingly holds up after all these years and that's tough considering when most have seen this movie is through those nostalgia goggles of an 8 year old ready to laugh himself silly. It's almost in an entirely different way as the film just feels darker after all these years. Of course everyone knows O' Doyle rules, but then seeing five generations of their family go off a cliff and cease to be by running over a banana peel feels incredibly darker now then back then. But still funny. Or how Billy throughout the film ridicules the kids in elementary school. It's understandable that an adult with a childlike mentality wouldn't care about age at all and still hilarious but seeing it now is insane compared to how politically correct his films are with kids almost being the co-star.
Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 46% and general consensus overall is that it is a love it or hate it movie. You either love to watch a film where you don't have to think about the jokes and it moves at a breakneck pace or you hate it because it's an adult acting like a kid ridden with ADD for 90 minutes and if you wanted to see that you could go to your local social services.
Compared to today's Sandler, he feels more alive than ever. Laying it all out on the field for all to see. Most jokes stick but some do fall and at least the film knows to move it along if a joke doesn't work. For instance, in Grown Ups 2 we the cliff scene is dragged out like it's Edward Norton in American History X but we need reaction shots from everyone in the film and still somehow have deleted scenes for the DVD.
Overall, this Sandler is what is missing from today. The no holds barred, willing to take pot shots at anyone and try and squeeze every joke possible from what is given. Instead of being an ensemble piece it's nice to have Adam Sandler alone which feels missing from today. I mean even in Jack and Jill, it was still an ensemble piece in a way as you had Al Pacino though you had two Adam Sandlers. This even has balance though with Billy's antics being questioned constantly by Eric and everyone around him. Regardless, if you haven't seen it in awhile and miss the old Adam Sandler, go watch it now, it still holds up.
As always, that's my opinion, what's yours?