All 39 Adam Sandler movies ranked, from best to unwatchable

After subsisting on a steady diet of Adam Sandler comedies throughout the ’90s, there came a day when I had a realization: What if some of Adam Sandler movies aren’t good? Moreover, what if most of them are actually terrible? Then Little Nicky hit, and I had to rethink everything I thought I knew

As audiences grew up and Sandler’s characters stayed the same, the people who once dutifully turned out for each movie… well, they continued to show up anyway. Despite never making a dent with critics, most of Sandler’s comedies proved successful at the box office. (South Park famously lampooned his output in an episode in which Cartman, disguised as the robot AWESOM-O 4000, comes up with over 1,000 movie ideas for Hollywood in a week, 800 of which star Sandler and all of them celebrated by the movie executives. Movie idea number 2,305: “Adam Sandler is trapped on an island and falls in love with a coconut.”)

Then, a funny thing happened: The artistic side of Sandler starting peeking out, first with Paul Thomas Anderson and Punch-Drunk Love, which is still considered his creative high point. He’s been wildly inconsistent ever since, but the recent Netflix original movie The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is a welcome reminder of how captivating Sandler can be in a more serious role. The movie is just one of eight Sandler has committed to for Netflix, after expanding his initial contract in March 2017, following the streaming success of his first two Netflix hits, 2015’s The Ridiculous 6 and last year’s The Do-Over. 

With plenty on Netflix now to choose from and even more available to stream or rent elsewhere, now is an ideal time to reflect back on the best Adam Sandler movies. Get your queue in order.

Adam Sandler movies: The essentials

1. Punch-Drunk Love

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

This choice is too easy, but it’s so obviously the correct pick. Not only is Sandler’s boiling rage bit used to maximum effect, but this is the most endearing he’s been as a romantic lead. You’ll find yourself rooting for Barry Egan before you realize it, and by the time Sandler does a grocery store tap dance, you’ll wish Sandler only made movies with Paul Thomas Anderson.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

2. Happy Gilmore

Screengrab via Movieclips Trailer Vault/YouTube

This was always my favorite of Sandler’s early comedies. The Bob Barker fistfight alone puts Happy in the 90s pantheon. Sandler’s yelling shtick is a comedy crutch, and one that is more wobbly than it is a source of laughs. Maybe I was just the right age when I first saw it, but I still laugh a lot and this goofy golf classic.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

3. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Screengrab via Zero Media/YouTube

Sandler’s most recent performance in Noah Baumbach’s Netflix film is so good, so lived in and empathetic, that you don’t want the movie to end. Serious Sandler performances are as rare as an Andre 3000 verse, and each one must be savored in kind. As with Punch-Drunk Love, we can only hope this marks a new chapter in Sandler’s career. If it doesn’t, well. Meyerowitz is still great.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

4. Funny People

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

The first half of Judd Apatow’s Funny People is the best work Sandler has done in my eyes. I’m an easy mark for the meta self-commentary going on, but that takes nothing away from the acting. Sandler is commenting on his career in ways that are both reflective and irritatingly predictive, but through it all, Sandler is as vulnerable on screen as he’s ever been.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

5. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan

Screengrab via Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube

You rolled your eyes before you finished reading the title, didn’t you? I don’t blame you. Zohan is one of the silliest films on Sandler’s résumé and easily the best “Sandler comedy” of the 21st century. It relies on silliness and absurdity rather than maliciousness and potshots, which is one of the reasons Zohan still makes me laugh when I catch it on TV.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

6. The Wedding Singer

Screengrab via Media Graveyard/YouTube

Sandler and Drew Barrymore captured lightning in a bottle with their ’80s-set rom-com. This marks an interesting point in Sandler’s career, where the romantic plot in one of his movies actually worked. It turned out so well that Sandler and Barrymore would team up two more times, but those movies mainly served to highlight how good The Wedding Singer is.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

7. Reign Over Me

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

This is the heaviest of Sandler’s dramatic work. Here he plays Charlie, and man struggling to deal with the people he lost on 9/11. Once again Sandler proves himself more than capable, and he holds his own opposite Don Cheadle.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

8. Big Daddy

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

It’s hard to imagine a screen persona like the one Sandler cultivated in the ’90s taking guardianship of a kid. Yet, that’s exactly the scenario Big Daddy wants you to buy into. And you know, it mostly works. Sandler and Dylan and Cole Sprouse have enough chemistry to make you laugh as they learn to be a family.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

9. 50 First Dates

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s second pairing is an ode to young love and how that feeling is hard to recreate. While the movie is fairly predictable, it’s comforting and alluring. It makes for a great compromise on your own date night. 

How to watch online: Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime

10-11. Hotel Transylvania 1 & 2

Screengrab via Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube

With the Hotel Transylvania films, Sandler has a created the thing that has always eluded him: a family film that is actually enjoyable for families to watch together. A large cast featuring Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Molly Shannon, and all the regular Sandler cohorts provides plenty of silliness. Hotel Transylvania falls into the better-than-you-think category and will keep the whole family smiling.

Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

READ MORE:

Adam Sandler movies: Worth adding to your queue

12. Blended

Screengrab via Movieclips Trailers/YouTube

The third Sandler-Barrymore collaboration reheats the things that worked best about The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, namely the chemistry of the stars, but the rest of the film isn’t up to the earlier standard. This Africa-set adventure about two families coming together doesn’t always hit its comedic marks, but it has enough heart to make up for it.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

13. Airheads

Screengrab via YTS

For the music industry, the ’90s may as well have been a hundred years ago compared to the state of things today. Back when radio play meant a lot more, Airheads shows what desperation can do to someone looking for their big break. The Lone Rangers (Sandler, Steve Buscemi, and Brendan Fraser) hold a DJ hostage to get their demo played. The satire isn’t as strong as it could be, but the lead trio is entertaining enough that you’ll still laugh, even if you’ll forget the movie pretty quickly.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

14. Mr. Deeds

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

I always thought Mr. Deeds caught more grief than it deserved, but updating a Frank Capra movie via Happy Madison was always going to draw scorn. Compared to Capra’s classic, Mr. Deeds is a failure. But compared to other Sandler movies, it’s pleasant enough. Do with that what you will.

How to watch online: Streaming on HBO Go

15. The Waterboy

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

I’ll always love The Waterboy for one particular joke. There’s a wrestler named Captain Insane-O, and for some reason, that name has kept me giggling for 20 years. The rest of the film has enough laughs, mostly from the visual gag of Sandler destroying people much bigger than him. This is one that always makes me chuckle when I come across it on TV. Maybe one day I’ll stop selling it short.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

16. Coneheads

Screengrab via Movieclips/YouTube

Coneheads doesn’t exactly help the case for movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches, but it doesn’t hurt it much either. Granted, this may be one of the more egregious cases of your mileage may vary, but what do you expect from a movie about aliens with coneheads?

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

17. Anger Management

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

This movie almost deserves to be last on the list for providing the basis for Charlie Sheen’s execrable TV adaptation, but we’ll overlook that for now. Putting Jack Nicholson and Sandler together sounds like a good idea on paper, but the result is too hit-or-miss to call it a success.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

18. Spanglish

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

This is the most disappointing of Sandler’s dramatic work. The acting by Sandler, Paz Vega, and Tea Leoni is solid, but James L. Brooks’ script is uneven. In its strongest moments, Spanglish hits on some emotional truths, but there aren’t enough of them to recommend it.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

19. Billy Madison

Screengrab via MoviemanTrailers/YouTube

This may be blasphemous to many Sandler fans, but Billy Madison isn’t that funny. The main problem is that Sandler’s screaming-in-place-of-jokes thing is cranked way up. The movie still gets laughs out of Billy and his classmates, but if want angry Sandler, why not watch Happy Gilmore instead?

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

20. Bulletproof

Screengrab via Movieclips/YouTube

Damon Wayans and Sandler make for a for an interesting comic duo in this disposable action comedy. Studio interference led to a mangled and quickly dismissed final product, but it’s hard to imagine that Bulletproof ever would’ve been significantly better. It’s a 48 Hours ripoff all the way and you’ll be better off putting that one on instead.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

READ MORE:

Adam Sandler movies: Skippable

21. Just Go With It

Screengrab via ScreenJunkies News/YouTube

Remember that time Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston co-starred in a romantic comedy? It’s a movie about a guy trying to cover a lie with more lies, and of course, the entire movie could’ve been avoided if he had told the truth up front. But when a Hawaiian vacation is on the line, I guess any excuse will do.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

22. The Longest Yard

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

Sandler as a professional football player is an amusing idea, and it’s made even more entertaining in the scenes Sandler shares with real players. As remakes go, it’s probably better than most people anticipated, but still not particularly good. As a Sandler vehicle, it’s much better than the movies that surround it on his filmography.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

23. Shakes the Clown

Photo via Sony Picture Home Entertainment/YouTube

Bobcat Goldthwait makes movies that are memorable, for better and worse. Shakes the Clown falls into the former category, but it does feature some of Sandler’s earliest screen work as Dink the Clown. This one is more of a curio than an outright bad movie, and that makes it worth your time.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

24. Bedtime Stories

Screengrab via Cinema Outpost/YouTube

This fantastical romp goes heavy on the romp and too light on the fantastic, meaning it grows tedious despite the imaginative scenarios it presents. Little ones will get a kick out of the movie’s tricks, like raining gumballs and wild chariot races, but older audiences will be looking to catch some z’s.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

25. Pixels

Screengrab via Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube

A movie featuring people fighting video game characters should be a lot more fun than this, but Pixels is a standard issue late-era Sandler comedy. As with all video games, it’s much more fun to play than watch.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

26. Jack and Jill

Screengrab via Movieclips Trailers/YouTube

Are two Adam Sandlers better than one? Jack and Jill doesn’t make a compelling case. Sandler plays the titular siblings, but the real reason to watch Jack and Jill (if one exists) is Al Pacino, who plays himself and looks like he’s having the time of his life.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

27. Eight Crazy Nights

Screengrab via The Film Archives/YouTube

It’s nice that Sandler wanted to make a holiday movie, but it’s not so nice that this is what he made. Despite being his first animated film, Sandler brings all of his hallmarks with him. If you thought his comedic stylings were lazy in live action, what till you see them in cartoon form.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

28. Sandy Wexler

Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

This Netflix original is nothing more than an homage to Sandler’s real-life manager, so it’s kind of interesting from that angle. It has heart, which automatically puts it above the other Sandler-Netflix offerings.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

29. Click

Screengrab via YouTube Movies/YouTube

The thing that irritates me the most about Click is how emotionally phony the movie feels. The idea of a man with a universal remote control (that controls the universe!) is fertile terrain, but Click razes it and plants obvious, first-draft jokes instead of something more fruitful.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

READ MORE:

Adam Sandler movies: hard pass

30. Little Nicky

Screengrab via CappaZack/YouTube

This was the first Sandler joint that I didn’t care for when I was growing up. I really, really hated it. The voice Sandler does for Nicky is so awful that I’ve blocked it from my mind, and I’m mad at this list for making me think about it. This story about the Devil’s third son trying to wrangle his brothers can go straight to hell.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

31. The Cobbler

Screengrab via Voltage Pictures/YouTube

The Cobbler is a disaster of such epic proportions that it could only come from people with the best intentions. Academy Award winner Tom McCarthy cooked up a film about a cobbler (played by Sandler) who makes magical shoes. It sounds like a movie pitch courtesy of The Onion, but lucky for us, it’s a real thing.  

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

32. Men, Women, and Children

Screengrab via Movieclips Coming Soon/YouTube

This misfire from Jason Reitman features Sandler and Jennifer Garner toplining a cautionary tale about the perils of the internet. It plays like an educational video featuring hopeless uncool olds trying to relate to hip youths. There’s more, as everything is connected in a Crash kind of way that renders everything hamfisted.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

33. Going Overboard

Photo via IMDb

Adam Sandler made his big-screen debut in this 1989 dud about a struggling standup (Sanders) who gets his (relatively) big break after a comedian drowns on a cruise ship. The film got a second life in 1996, when it was re-released to bank on Sandler’s Saturday Night Live and Billy Madison success, but it wasn’t any better the second time around.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

34. That’s My Boy

Screengrab via Movieclips Trailers/YouTube

There’s a version of That’s My Boy that, in an alternate universe, is pretty funny. Sandler playing a dirtbag dad to Andy Samberg’s straight-laced son has a lot of comedic potential. But, as is often the case with Sandler comedies, it aims for the lowest-common-denominator with its humor. A few jokes pop here and there, but there’s a reason this is one of the lowest grossing films on Sandler’s IMDb profile.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

35. The Do-Over

Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

For anyone who has ever dreamed of faking their death or abandoning their responsibilities to start anew, The Do-Over is for you. Sandler and David Spade play guys who decide to abandon their current lives, only to assume the identities of criminals. Yikes! They shoot and joke their way through the haphazard script, and before you know it two hours have passed and you’ll be wishing you were someone else.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

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36. The Ridiculous 6

Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

More of an afterthought than a movie, the most notable thing about The Ridiculous 6 is that it opened at the same time as The Hateful Eight. A group of six diverse people get together to spew their venom, but this movie ain’t written by Quentin Tarintino, and it’s as offensive as you would expect.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

37-38. Grown Ups 1 & 2

Screengrab via Movieclips Trailers/YouTube

This is the nadir of Sandler filming vacations with his friends and passing it off as movies. The second film features a moose peeing on somebody in a gag someone thought was worth highlighting in a trailer. The Grown Ups movies are so vile and unfunny that if you decide to watch them, you deserve what you get.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

39. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Screengrab via Movieclips Trailer Vault/YouTube

For all of the bad movies Adam Sandler has made, and there are so many bad movies, the nadir is this hateful, moronic, and despicable act against comedy and cinema. And that’s without even getting into the homophobia. Sandler and Kevin James play firefighters of the manliest order, but they have to pretend to be gay in order to pull off an insurance scam. Everything about this movie is awful from conception to execution. Send this one back to hell with Little Nicky.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/adam-sandler-movies/

Author: Billy Roland

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