Comedian Adam Sandler looks back at his early career and reveals how he responded to the negative reviews for his breakout film Billy Madison.
Comedian and actor Adam Sandler talks about how he reacted to reading negative reviews about his film Billy Madison. Having performed in comedy clubs from the age of 17, Sandler marked his first onscreen appearance playing Theo Huxtable’s friend on The Cosby Show in 1987. In 1990, he was hired as writer for Saturday Night Live and would become a long-running cast member the following year. After a series of smaller film parts, in 1995 Sandler both co-wrote and starred in Billy Madison, the story of a spoiled hotel heir who repeats school to win his father’s respect and the chance to inherit his business empire. Despite being panned by critics on its release, the film is now widely regarded by fans as one of Sandler’s best.
Over the years Sandler has racked up an impressive number of film credits, though many have been the target of decidedly harsh critical reactions. Sandler talks with Entertainment Weekly about his time in the spotlight and his most recent Netflix basketball drama Hustle. During the conversation, Sandler recalls his reaction to reading the initial reviews to Billy Madison, the film he first co-wrote with his long-time collaborator Tim Herlihy. He also admits that he would later choose to cease reading them altogether. Check out his comments below:
When I was 17 and I got into this, I didn't think about critics ... I didn't even realize that stuff was coming. I just thought you made movies, people go see it. When Billy Madison came out, me and my friend who wrote it, we were just like, 'Oh yeah, they're going to write about this in New York!' We grew up reading the papers, we were going to NYU. And then we read the first one and we were like, 'Oh my god, what happened? They hate us.' And then we were like, 'It must have been this paper,' but then 90 percent of the papers are going 'This is garbage.'
Well known for his puerile sense of humor and reliance on long-established comedic tropes, many of Sandler’s films have served as lightning rods for harsh critical reactions over the years. With dozens of film credits to his name, many of which he had a direct hand in producing via his Happy Madison production company, Sandler has often been accused of churning out largely formulaic fare characterized by low-brow comedic sensibilities and a recurring tendency to cast his own close friends in key roles. With widely panned outings like 2011’s Jack and Jill and 2015’s The Ridiculous 6, Sandler has certainly earned himself a reputation for making some truly horrible films throughout the course his career.
Yet despite being repeatedly savaged by critics, Sandler still seems to enjoy a largely successful career and still has his fair share of loyal supporters. While some might accuse his approach to comedic filmmaking as being decidedly lazy, it is his predictability and consistency that makes his films comforting fare for audiences who have grown up with his trademark sense of humor. While film critics may not appreciate Sandler’s comedic outings, his ongoing longevity would suggest there are still plenty of fans who do.
In more recent years, Sandler has also managed to surprise his harshest critics by demonstrating his prowess as a serious dramatic actor. His appearance in the crime thriller Uncut Gems not only earned him rave reviews, but the film was also selected by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2019. Similarly, his most recent appearance in Netflix’s Hustle is prompting critics to shower him with praise for his strengths as an actor. These kinds of reactions are certainly a long way from much of the disparaging commentary that has been cast Sandler’s way ever since his breakout film role in 1995’s Billy Madison.