Alright, alright I admit it. I had pretty much given up on Adam Sandler after You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. You remember that classic, right? The one where the Sandman plays the titular character about an Israeli Special Forces Soldier who fakes his death so he can move to NYC to start a hair career? Sadly, that movie also features a cameo by Mariah Carey shamelessly plugging her latest album at the time. I came into that movie expecting a return to form to rival Sandler classics like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, I was 16 years old. I was very wrong. After this movie, Sandler’s career was mostly lows (Jack and Jill) with a few middles (Funny People) and some advanced middles (Hotel Transylvania?).
Oh, by the way, I do not want to sound like a condescending movie snob. I have enjoyed a majority of Sandler’s work. The holy trinity will always be Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy for me and most people with special nods to The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy, Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds. I have no shame in admitting that I have also enjoyed Grown Ups (the first one), Anger Management, 50 First Dates, Funny People, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Click, and Punch Drunk Love. Suffice it to say, the Sandman has brought me much joy in my life. This scene in particular.
It had been since Hotel Transylvania, circa 2012, that I had thoroughly enjoyed something that Adam Sandler was involved in. Re-enter Sandman…
100% Fresh is a “wonderful return to form for a beloved comedian” according to Rotten Tomatoes, which is hilarious and ironic considering that critics have shit all over him his entire career. Look it up. It’s ridiculous. No way is Billy Madison a 46%! This pretty much sums up how I feel about a majority of your ratings Rotten Tomatoes. However, in this case, RT got it right. This special IS an amazing return to form from a man who has been on cruise control since 2003, depending who you ask.
Quickly ranking the 5 most memorable songs from the special
- Chris Farley Tribute
- Phone, Wallet, Keys
- Bar Mitzvah Boy
- Grow Old With You (Alternate Lyrics)
- Uber Driver Smells Bad
This is Sandler’s first rewatchable moment in a long time. I found myself literally lol’ing (hate myself for having to type that) throughout the special, and have watched it three times since my first viewing. Guess what? It held up! I was finding new things to laugh at each time. In an era where attention spans are short, this special is paced expertly, thanks to tight editing across multiple performances. It’s loose and fun with Sandler occasionally breaking, but this makes the performance all the more raw and human.
The real strength in the special is Sandler’s musical ability. The songs are funny, memorable, and constitute at least 50% of the special. I could not get this one out of my head, where Sandler parodies the mumble rap generation, “it use to be so easy with my phone, my wallet and my keys-eez.” His musical parodies are updated to fit into today’s musical climate while retaining his grungey grit from songs like “Lunchlady Land.” Sandler’s musical prowess is fairly underrated, and I was happy to see it on full display. Just for fun, listen to one of my favorite Sandler songs that you may not have heard of about Steve Polychronopolous. I can’t help it. Listen to this one too, a spiritual predecessor to “Fuck Her Gently” by Tenacious D.
Sandler did pull a fast one on me though. On first viewing, I guessed that the special was going to end on the comedic high of Rob Schneider flying in, dressed as an astronaut, singing about fellatio in outer space. But, just like 16 year old me, I was very wrong.
As Schneider flew away and the lights dimmed, Sandler returned to stage with a Fender Stratocaster and played an emotional ode to his dear friend, and legendary comedian, Chris Farley. Oh yeah, he rocked an emotionally powerful guitar solo that was nothing to scoff at and he nailed EVERY. DAMN. NOTE. I had tears running down my beard and just when I thought shit couldn’t get more emotional, he followed this up with “Grow Old With You” featuring different lyrics honoring his wife and his fans that climaxed with a photo montage from Sandler’s birth all the way to the present.
Adam Sandler had me laughing out loud. I didn’t expect to be rolling on the floor crying too.
Have a day Sandman.