Adam Sandler has been one of Hollywood’s most recognisable movie stars for close to thirty years. Having made his name as a ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member in the early-to-mid 1990s, the man affectionately known as “The Sandman” became a movie star of his own making in Generation X comedies like Billy Madison before entering studio deals on behalf of his production company to offer all-new comedies each and every year. For a period, an annual Adam Sandler movie was more of a guarantee than a new superhero film was.
Now known primarily for his outdated and often culturally inappropriate but ever-popular self-produced comedies, Adam Sandler has long been seen by critics and audiences alike as a bastion of bad movies, his once youthful exuberance becoming more lazy and low-brow as the years have passed.
Never a critical darling but always highly thought of within Hollywood itself, Adam Sandler has made a reputation for being a nice guy with a positive attitude. Over the years he has also quietly established a rich catalogue of memorable performances, both in the comedy realm and as a character actor, working with some of the film industry’s most talented hit-makers and most critically acclaimed filmmakers to offer work in films as diverse as Happy Gilmore and The Meyerowitz Stories.
In this Movie List from The Film Magazine, we’re looking back at The Sandman’s seventy-plus film credits to determine his very best performances, judging the quality of comedic and dramatic performances alike to determine which films feature the Top 10 Adam Sandler Performances.
10. Big Daddy (1999)
Despite the movie being named after a famous British wrestler (of no resemblance), 1999 family comedy Big Daddy was at least slightly less likely to leave you feeling tired, warn down and like your head had just been beaten in. Slightly.
Sandler’s turn at a family comedy was mixed with his famed 1990s Generation X sense of humour to make something of a mess of a film that saw his unlikely father figure teaching a small child how to eat what he wants and pee in the street. You know, man stuff!
The arc Sandler’s character undergoes is from man-child to fully fledged grown up, with his character embracing change and responsibility to grow as a human being as the film goes on, offering Sandler the opportunity to add a little more than obnoxious comedy to his performance, bringing this offering onto our list.
9. Airheads (1994)
There’s a sense of innocence in Adam Sandler’s 1994 Airheads performance that, when combined with his vastly different look and supporting role, make him hard to identify as the mosher-rocker he portrays.
Essentially the good guy of the group, Sandler’s performance as the band’s drummer alongside band-mates Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi becomes one of the more ultimately likeable of the quite uplifting (if not a little ridiculous) movie.
Sandler’s approach to the role from the position of someone with a childish innocence in every adult action is one we would become familiar with in mainstream cinema throughout the years that followed, but it was in Airheads where he first put these talents to the silver screen so effectively.