Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix original “Sandy Wexler” is as bad as you feared … until it isn’t.
The comedy casts Sandler as Sandy Wexler, a talent agent/manager/PR guru with an annoying laugh and even more annoying personality. Yet he truly loves his low-rent clients, especially one singer who could legitimately be a superstar. Jennifer Hudson is off the charts charming as Charlotte, Sandy’s best client.
The film is inexplicably over two hours long and features scene after scene that should have been trimmed. Yet several sequences are terrific and/or laugh-out-loud funny, among the best of Sandler’s recent films.
It reminds us that he can uncork a solid performance amidst the groaners like “Just Go With It” and “That’s My Boy.”
Consider the following five Sandler movies as some of the comedian’s best work … and reason to hope the good patches in “Sandy Wexler” portend better films from his Netflix partnership.
1. Punch-Drunk Love
Sometimes comedians can tap into a darkness other actors struggle to unearth. That’s certainly the case with this challenging tale from director Paul Thomas Anderson. Sandler leaves his man-child shtick behind to portray a troubled man on the cusp of romance.
It’s unlike anything in Sandler’s film canon and an early sign of his range.
2. The Wedding Singer
Yes, the Sandler/Drew Barrymore romance may be the ultimate ’80s tribute. It’s also a sweet romance that’s much more than a series of Reagan-era shout outs.
The duo clicked again in the inferior “50 First Dates” before bumbling through the tacky “Blended.” This is their best on-screen pairing, even if you aren’t old enough to wince at the period’s styles.
3. Funny People
Sandler teamed up with comic maestro Judd Apatow for a film many found disappointing. The movie came on the heels of Apatow’s killer one-two punch of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” So the feeling was understandable.
Still, “Funny People” is a rock-solid portrait of comedy fame featuring some well-earned laughs and a credible turn by Sandler. The third act doesn’t work, but it’s still worth your time.
4. Hotel Transylvania
Moviegoers expected the worst with Sandler’s second animated romp. His first attempt, “Eight Crazy Nights,” was a seasonal dud. Could this “Hotel” be more of the same?
Not even close. The film, which has sparked not one but two sequels, is a delight for young and old. The movie plays on classic monster movie tropes, but the heart of the tale is the father/daughter bond between Sandler’s vampire and young Selena Gomez’s angst-ridden tee.
Even the animation, while not Pixar brilliant, is first rate. Add a terrific supporting cast, including Sandler chums David Spade and Kevin James, and you’re left with a wonderful animated film.
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
Sandler’s straight up comedies can be disastrous. The trailer for “Jack and Jill” looked so awful some could be excused for thinking it was a Sandler parody project.
Still, he occasionally hits the right comic notes. “Happy Gilmore” served up some solid laughs, as did “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.” “Zohan” remains the best of his recent comedies. The tale of an Israeli agent who fakes his own death to become a hair stylist is bracingly original. It’s also another instance of Sandler embraces his Jewish heritage on screen with both respect and tongue firmly planted in cheek.