9 Milestones in the Evolution of Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler has one of the most frustrating career arcs of any actor working today. Maybe it would have been better if Punch Drunk Love were never made. Then we wouldn't know what Sandler is capable of and movies like this weekend's Just Go With It wouldn't be half as disappointing. On the other hand, audiences seem to just love it when he phones it in... so why even try? You can always trace a direct line through a handful of important roles (if not always the best roles) to illustrate what led to an actor's current success -- and/or give us a clue why something like Just Go With It exists, As such, let's look at eight performances that trace the evolution of one Adam Richard Sandler.
The Cosby Show (1987)
Sandler, in his first role, plays Smitty, a classmate of Theo Huxtable -- not too shabby a debut on one of the most popular television shows in the world at the time. In Sandler's first episode, he asks Theo how things went on a televised dance contest, only to become more enamored with Theo's friend Cockroach who performed better. Sandler would appear on Cosby four times.
Remote Control (1988)
Sandler was a writer and frequent guest star on this MTV game show hosted by the late Ken Ober and Sandler's future fellow SNL cast member, Colin Quinn. Sandler would play a plethora of different characters associated with Ober's questions, including, in this clip, Stud Boy.
Saturday Night Live (1990-95)
In the fall of 1990, SNL started to transition from the Dana Carvey/Jon Lovitz era (Lovitz left the show in the spring of 1990) to the Sandler/Chris Farley era. Added as featured players in 1990, Sandler, Farley and David Spade would dominate the show by 1993. Unfortunately, SNL would later enter one of the worst phases in its history with this cast in place, culminating in Chris Smith's infamous "Saturday Night Dead" exposé for New York Magazine. After the 1994-1995 season, Sandler (along with Farley and pretty much the rest of the cast other than Spade) would be fired. By the end, Sandler's SNL wasn't conducive to a cohesive sketch comedy show, but that doesn't mean he didn't shine in some individual moments -- which would wind up pretty much defining his film career.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
O.K., let's be honest: Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are pretty much the same movie. If anything, Gilmore (the character) is even less likable than Madison (if that's possible); the best thing Sandler ever did was let Bob Barker beat the piss out of him on screen. For Sandler, he finally had a moment that transcended his own film and became an important piece of popular culture.
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