Unlike many of the celebs in Toronto for TIFF, Adam Sandler is not a heavyweight. Still, the actor seemed serious about changing his recent losing streak when he showed up with roles in two Festival films. It gave long-time fans hope that maybe — just maybe — the days of cross-dressing and funny voices were behind him. Returning to the more grounded style of Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish, and Funny People, it seemed that redemption was near..
Although both films avoid the humiliation of high leg kicks (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan) and ostrich-riding Drew Barrymore reunions (Blended), Daniel Day-Lewis has nothing to worry about. For anyone yearning for the Sandler of days past, we’ve pulled together a few notes on his two new films: The Cobbler and Men, Women & Children.
For anyone else yearning for the good old Sandler days of films past, we’ve “cobbled” together a few notes from his new films The Cobbler and Men, Women & Children:
Selling comedy as a drama
In The Cobbler, Sandler teams with acclaimed writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor). Before you start writing Sandler’s Oscar acceptance speech, note that this isn’t much of a departure. Actually, The Cobbler has the same kind of surreal, high concept gimmick (a man discovers he can transform into the owner of the shoes he repairs) that earned Sandler a shelf full of Razzies.
The disappearing act
Absurd as it may sound, The Cobbler’s premise offers all kinds of intriguing possibilities — that the movie completely overlooks. Instead, we get a series of crazy schemes with a wide range of other actors taking over Sandler’s acting duties. This is where his detractors might actually be more enthused than his fans: even though Sandler’s character is in virtually every scene, he keeps disappearing, as if he just realized he had another Grown Ups sequel to shoot.
Does this even count as acting?
Sandler’s screen time is even more limited in his other TIFF movie, Jason Reitman’s ensemble drama Men, Women & Children. It’s not entirely clear why Sandler was cast in the role of an unhappily married man who considers straying from his wife, but he delivers a respectable performance. This film is refreshingly light on ridiculous accents, memory loss, temper tantrums, man-child irresponsibility and other Sandler trademarks. In their place, he offers little more than some scruffy facial hair, but we’re not complaining.
And the Oscar doesn’t go to…
If you’re living on a steady diet of Sandler comedies, you might be wondering if it’s even possible for him to exist in the real world. Men, Women & Children proves that it is. This film won’t earn him any Oscar nominations, but it’s a vast improvement over his usual fare – and the The Cobbler’s wacky shoe hijinks. Maybe this will be a rare Razzie-free awards season for the guy after all.