(Photo by Tracy Bennett/©Columbia Pictures)
The critics haven’t always been kind to Adam Sandler over the course of his film career, but box office receipts don’t lie — his detractors have been handily outnumbered by his many ardent fans, many of whom have been laughing it up over the SNL vet’s shtick for decades. His filmography’s certainly had its share of ups and downs, but it includes some of the biggest — and most eminently quotable — comedy hits in recent memory, from Billy Madison to Happy Gilmore, as well as a number of beloved rom-coms like The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, and indie gems in the form of The Meyerowitz Stories and Punch-Drunk Love. In fact, one of his latest was exactly that: 2019’s Uncut Gems, the intense crime thriller from the Safdie bros, drew some of the highest critical acclaim of Sandler’s career.
Watch out for hired goons, giant penguins, and, of course, Bob Barker, and let’s take a look at his entire filmography, from the best Adam Sandler movies to the worst, ranked by Tomatometer!
This week’s new releases include a few Hollywood takes on science fiction (Fox’s remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still; the 1984 sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact on Blu-ray), and a few that fall into the fantasy genre (Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories; Jim Carrey in Yes Man, where he romances the 18-years younger Zooey Deschanel — a middle-aged male fantasy if there ever was one). Awards-watchers have an Oscar-nominated film new to DVD (Doubt) and a new double-dip from a Coen brothers classic in the making (No Country for Old Men Collector’s Edition). Read on for more!
When studios remake films, the question always arises: Why fix it if it ain’t broken? (The original 1951 sci-fi classic sits pretty at a robust 94 percent on the Tomatometer.) The folks at Fox apparently don’t like such questions, because they decided to “update” the tale of an alien visitor named Klaatu who brings a message of peace — and then, potential destruction — to the callow denizens of Earth. Keanu Reeves‘ monotone delivery as Klaatu didn’t help TDTESS‘s clunky direction and script, though in his defense, he was doing it on purpose. Find the 3-Disc version for a plethora of bonus materials (production photos, storyboards, and concept art) and tons of thematic and making-of featurettes; unfortunately, the lone commentary track does not feature the film’s stars or its director, Scott Derrickson. The good news? Limited editions of the 2-Disc and 3-Disc DVDs also come with the original The Day The Earth Stood Still, so you might get some enjoyment out of the release after all.
Next: Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories
Back again with another family-friendly comic clunker, Adam Sandler stars as a goofball uncle named Skeeter who entertains his niece and nephew with fantastical stories — stories that begin to come to life! Although the appealing Keri Russell co-stars as Sandler’s love interest, and the rascally Russell Brand as his best friend, this high concept comedy fell flat. Even director Adam Shankman (Hairspray) couldn’t breathe enough pep and life into the proceedings, and he was able to make people enjoy watching John Travolta in drag. Special features include pieces on the film’s special effects, child actors, and computer-generated guinea pig, bloopers, deleted scenes, and an infomercial-type appearance by Big Daddy co-stars Cole and Dylan Sprouse (now bonafide Disney idols).
Next: Multiple Oscar nominee, Doubt
Oscar-watchers absolutely must see this Certified Fresh chamber piece, which earned five Academy Award nominations and was adapted by director John Patrick Shanley from his own Pulitzer-winning play. With creds like these, is there any, ahem, doubt, that serious moviegoers should move this to the top of their Netflix queue this week? A strong cast led by Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams give this period piece about suspicion and the specter of abuse in a 1950s parish serious weight, though a brief, powerhouse performance by Viola Davis steals the show.
Next: Say maybe to Jim Carrey’s Yes Man
Jim Carrey is a shadow of his former self in Yes Man, a predictable comedy about a straight-laced banker who battles his mid-life crisis by embracing a single word: yes. Unfortunately, critics overwhelmingly disagreed with the film’s central theme (“Say yes to everything!”), despite a winning if strained performance by Carrey, who plays against his strengths as the straight man with the occasional glimmer of that slapsticky, classic Carrey. And then, there’s Zooey Deschanel. Always winning as the token “manic pixie dream girl,” she’s extra-quirky in a role as a scooter-driving, rock band-fronting, Silverlake-dwelling free spirit who, naturally, falls in love with Carrey (18 years her senior in real life). Deschanel’s musical performances, included in full as bonus features, are the highlight of Yes Man on DVD – watch one below!
Next: Contemplate your credit history with I.O.U.S.A.
Economy got you in a funk? If watching an entire documentary about the nation’s money woes won’t sink you further into depression, then we fervently recommend picking up I.O.U.S.A. (maybe a rental — it’s more cost-effective). This nonpartisan doc aims to educate America about fiscal responsibility — but in an entertaining way, unlike your bank’s customer service agents — utilizing engaging graphics to make its terrifying point. Another bonus: I.O.U.S.A. is directed by award-winning filmmaker Patrick Creadon, whose 2006 doc Wordplay introduced audiences to the nation’s biggest crossword nerds — and won a Golden Tomato award to boot.
Next: Yup, someone made a movie entitled Donkey Punch
The title does bear explanation, but you’ll have to watch this film to find out what it means. It’s got a promising premise; this British thriller follows a group of young partiers adrift on a boat trip that takes a dangerous turn at sea. Critics liked it to a point, but gave it negative reviews for giving way to tired genre cliché. Brutal violence, drug use, and general hedonism abound, if you like that sort of thing…but while curiosity is bound to get the best of anyone looking for sordid thrills, Donkey Punch might turn out less impactful than its own title.
Next: Painterly animation and adventure in The Tale of Despereaux
When it comes to animation, it would seem that American studios (Pixar, DreamWorks) have a monopoly on critical success. European studio Framestore Animation nonetheless tried their hand with The Tale of Despereaux, whose titular character is a mouse of particular courage and manners. Despereaux aimed to capture the imaginations of young audiences but ended up splitting critics, who credited it with handsome, painterly CG visuals but complained of a lack of spirit. The bland allegory, based on the novel by author Kate DiMillo, might serve hardcore fans of animation (and those with small children) best; all else, be warned. A few games and making-of featurettes highlight the DVD.
Next: Get naughty and nostalgic with the Pre-Code Hollywood Collection
Hearken back to an Old Hollywood unencumbered by silly “morals,” before that stuffy Hays Code took effect, with six delightfully dirty classics: The Cheat (1931, pictured above), Merrily We Go To Hell (1932), Hot Saturday (1932), Torch Singer (1933), Murder at the Vanities (1934), and Search For Beauty (1934). Among the set are films starring the likes of Tallulah Bankhead, Cary Grant, Lucille Ball and Claudette Colbert, with salacious storylines that span the un-PC themes of adultery, wedlock, murder, and good old-fashioned smut. (Bankhead’s The Cheat plays like an early version of Indecent Proposal, as an indebted woman considers paying the ultimate price to a “lecherous scoundrel.”) A mini-handbook reprint of the infamous 1934 Production Code accompanies the set; here, we share our favorite bylaws: “Revenge in modern times shall not be justified” and “Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.”
Next: Should you double dip with the No Country For Old Men Collector’s Edition?
Double-dip home video releases are never enticing to fans who already own a title, but this week’s Blu-ray release of the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men comes with enough new bonus material that fervent Coen fans should take a look. When No Country first hit DVD and Blu-ray a while back, only a trio of features accompanied the film; all three of those features are ported over to the new Collector’s Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray and 3-Disc DVD, and share space with a wealth of new extras, which include Josh Brolin‘s behind-the-scenes feature, a Q&A with Joel and Ethan Coen and cinematographer Roger Deakins, and nine additional pieces featuring the Coens and their stars talking with various media programs about No Country. If you’ve spent hours analyzing the film’s ending, shot compositions, or Anton Chigurh’s hairdo of choice, consider these materials study guides to the Coen classic.
Next: 2010: The Year We Make Contact hits Blu-ray
It was an audacious idea to begin with; who in their right mind would attempt to follow Stanley Kubrick‘s science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a sequel? In the year 1984, that person was director Peter Hyams (Capricorn One, The Star Chamber, Timecop), whose adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s follow-up novel picked up nine years after the events of 2001. Roy Scheider stars as Dr. Heywood Floyd, a now-disgraced aeronautics expert investigating the HAL 9000 glitch, who along with John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, and Bob Balaban, tries to unlock the secret of the monolith. While the release comes with woefully few bonus features (a vintage featurette and the theatrical trailer), it’s a great High Def release for science fiction purists.
Until next week, happy renting!
This weekend people were in the mood for movies over Christmas weekend as multiplexes were jam-packed with customers that powered four different new releases to more than $30M in ticket sales each over the long Thursday-to-Sunday holiday session. The Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston dog drama Marley & Me led the way with a huge debut that exceeded expectations. Adam Sandler’s new family comedy Bedtime Stories and Brad Pitt’s period drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button generated nearly identical numbers with the former winning the three-day period and the latter grossing more over the four-day span. Tom Cruise also showed some firepower with his war thriller Valkyrie which found a large audience too.
North American ticket buyers had no problems spending ferociously as the Top 20 films hauled in a stunning $200M making for the second biggest weekend of 2008 after only the July 18-20 frame when The Dark Knight scored its record debut. This weekend’s explosive box office was even more impressive considering the fact that there were no sequels in the top ten at all. Instead, moviegoers spread their money across numerous star-driven films as everyone found something to their liking.
Soaring ahead of its competitors, Marley & Me scored a powerful top spot debut grossing an estimated $37M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a sensational $51.7M since its Thursday launch. After several months of disappointments, Fox finally delivered a surefire smash averaging a sturdy $10,632 over three days from 3,480 locations. The studio began 2008 with hits like 27 Dresses, Jumper, and Horton Hears a Who but then stumbled with a handful of films that generated little excitement.
Based on the best-selling book, the PG-rated Marley drew upon a built-in audience but the studio also marketed the film to dog lovers and families to pull in a wide range of business. Thursday saw a stellar $14.7M in sales which set a new record for Christmas Day openers beating the $10.2M of 2001’s Ali which translates to about $13M at today’s ticket prices. With kids off from school and a large number of adults having no work either, everyday this week will be like a Saturday at the box office so Marley could shatter the $100M mark by next weekend.
Disney’s comedy adventure Bedtime Stories, picked by many to be the top dog this weekend, settled into second with an estimated $28.1M in three days and $38.6M over its four-day Thursday-to-Sunday launch. The Adam Sandler family pic averaged an impressive $7,625 during three days and played to a broad audience. Studio data showed that 51% of the turnout was female and 52% was over 25 so all four quadrants were well represented. Bedtime basically targeted the same audience that powered Ben Stiller film Night at the Museum to a $42.2M four-day Christmas weekend launch two years ago. Reviews were dismal, but moviegoers responded instead to the starpower and effects-driven adventure of the PG-rated entry.
Brad Pitt attracted a sizable audience to his Oscar contender The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with an estimated $27M over the weekend and a stellar $39M over the four-day span. Paramount averaged a strong $9,036 from 2,988 theaters over three days with its PG-13 tale of a man who ages in reverse. Directed by David Fincher, Button co-stars Cate Blanchett and runs 2 hours and 47 minutes in length meaning most auditoriums were offering just four shows per day instead of five. Reviews have been very favorable and the film has scored five Golden Globe nominations. Many expect it to be a Best Picture candidate come Oscar night on February 22.
Adult women made up the biggest sector of the audience for Brad. Females were 60% of the crowd while 70% were over 25. Button was not an easy sell for the studio and competition for mature adults was intense so the large opening truly underlines the drawing power of Shiloh’s dad. In fact its first day take of $12M marked the second biggest Christmas Day opening in history after Marley.
Co-produced by Warner Bros. which will handle the film overseas, Button cost a whopping $150M to produce. But with Golden Globe awards and Academy Award nominations to be announced in January, the epic film should have long legs at the box office and may surpass that figure in domestic coin.
MGM performed a Christmas miracle this weekend. The studio took what was long considered a surefire flop anchored by a star on the decline and turned it around and into a big hit. That film, Tom Cruise’s war drama Valkyrie, debuted in fourth place with an estimated $21.5M over the weekend and a terrific $30M since its Thursday launch. Invading 2,711 venues, the thriller about a plot to assassinate Hitler averaged a sturdy $7,942.Valkyrie‘s debut was in the same vicinity as other Cruise pics like Collateral ($24.7M opening) and The Last
Samurai ($24.3M) although those films opened on Fridays during non-holiday frames.
Valkyrie took advantage of a void in the marketplace and seized the opportunity. Emotional dramas like Marley and Button skewed female and Bedtime appealed more to kids leaving adult men with very few films to be excited about. Studio research showed that the PG-13 film pulled in an audience that was 55% male and 66% over 25. Backed by decent reviews, the World War II flick now has a shot at becoming yet another $100M hit for Cruise capping off a major comeback year for Suri’s old man who also delivered one of the summer’s most memorable performances with his Golden Globe-nominated turn in Tropic Thunder.
Following a less-than-spectacular opening last weekend, Jim Carrey’s comedy Yes Man dropped from first to fifth place with an estimated $16.5M. But the Warner Bros. release held up well dipping only 10% putting the ten-day cume at a solid $49.6M. A trip to the $100M club may still result for the A-list funnyman. Will Smith also saw a good hold for his latest venture. The do-gooder drama Seven Pounds slipped by 10% as well from its opening frame and grossed an estimated $13.4M pushing its ten-day tally to $39M for Sony.
Universal’s animated film The Tale of Despereaux eased by just 7% and collected an estimated $9.4M for seventh place. The top ten’s only G-rated film has taken in $27.9M in ten days and has helped the studio reach a new company high with $1.1 billion in box office in 2008. Keanu Reeves followed with an estimated $7.9M for his sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still. Down 20%, the Fox release has pulled in $63.6M in 17 days.
Not all new releases clicked with moviegoers this holiday weekend. The one casualty was Lionsgate’s stylish actioner The Spirit which bowed to an estimated $6.5M over three days and $10.3M across four days. Playing in 2,509 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,593. Graphic novel king Frank Miller made his solo directing debut after co-helming the 2005 hit Sin City with Robert Rodriguez which opened much stronger with $29.1M over three days.
Rounding out the top ten was Miramax’s Doubt which expanded nationally from 39 to 1,267 theaters and grossed an estimated $5.7M. Averaging a respectable $4,479, the Meryl Streep pic has taken in $8.8M thus far and has made the queen bee of actresses a major contender for the Oscar…again.
Everything has been going right for specialty distributors this holiday season as every major limited release has been met with sold out shows and strong averages. Two more new pics enjoyed solid bows this weekend. The much-hyped Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet reunion in Revolutionary Road led to the year’s best opening weekend average. Paramount Vantage took in an estimated $192,000 from only three sites for a robust $64,000 average and will expand next
weekend into the top 15 markets. Road has earned four Golden Globe nominations and has been well-liked by most critics.
Overture got off to a nice start with its double Globe nominee Last Chance Harvey which bowed to an estimated $96,000 from six locations for a solid $16,000 average. The Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson pic has grossed $132,000 since debuting on Christmas Day.
Holdover pics in limited release scored some extra theaters and saw their weekend grosses climb. Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire grossed an estimated $4.5M from 614 theaters for an impressive $7,248 average, up 46% from last weekend. The Clint Eastwood hit Gran Torino expanded from 19 to 84 sites and collected an estimated $2.4M for a powerful $29,048 average. Totals sit at
$19.7M and $4.3M, respectively.
Milk inched up 6% to an estimated $1.8M from 311 playdates for a $5,883 average. The Sean Penn starrer has grossed $13.6M for Focus. Parent company Universal used Christmas to widen its political drama Frost/Nixon from 39 to 205 locations and saw an estimated $1.5M in sales for a strong $7,180 average. Cume is $3.7M.
The Weinstein Co. expanded the Kate Winslet flick The Reader into 116 houses and took in an estimated $671,000 for a $5,787 average. Mickey Rourke’s The Wrestler averaged a muscular $21,170 thanks to its estimated $381,000 from 18 arenas for Fox Searchlight.
Also notable below the top ten was the vampire blockbuster Twilight surpassing the total gross of fellow November hit Quantum of Solace. Just a month ago, nobody would have guessed that the modestly-budgeted $37M teen saga would go on to outgun the latest James Bond film and its $200M+ budget. Twilight grossed an estimated $4.5M this weekend, down only 13%, for a $167.1M domestic total while Quantum fell 29% to an estimated $1.5M pushing its cume to $164.3M. Overseas, of course, is another story with the 007 actioner having a $300M advantage, but Stephanie Meyer fans have given the film industry something that is rare nowadays – a hit with legs. For the year, Twilight ranks as the eighth biggest blockbuster of 2008.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $172.9M which was up 9% from last year when National Treasure: Book of Secrets stayed in the top spot with $36.7M; and up 29% from 2006 when Night at the Museum remained at number one with $36.8M.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a full slate of new flicks: Bedtime Stories, starring Adam Sandler and Keri Russell; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh; Marley & Me, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston; and The Spirit, starring Gabriel Macht and Scarlett Johansson. What do the critics have to say?
In such films as Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, Adam Sandler has proven that his adolescent schtick isn’t the only note he can play. So critics are a bit disappointed with Bedtime Stories, in which the beloved funnyman attempts to make a comedy for all ages — and comes up with something that never fulfills its admittedly clever premise. Sandler stars as Skeeter, a handyman at a hotel who notices something strange: the bedtime stories he’s been telling his children have a tendency to come true. A tug-of-war between Skeeter’s attempts to use this strange power to his advantage — and his children’s additions to the stories — ensues. The pundits say Bedtime Stories may offer younger audiences some yucks, but the film’s overplotted and haphazard approach can’t sustain the laughs — or much dramatic interest. At 24 percent on the Tomatometer, it appears to be bedtime for Bedtime.
“This Tomatometer score is all your fault. I knew we should have gone with your brother.”
Taking a break from chronicling the dark side of humanity, David Fincher makes a foray into period fantasy melodrama with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And the critics say the film presents a bold, if flawed, dreamworld. In this loose adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, Brad Pitt stars as a man who is born old and ages in reverse. This profoundly complicates his romance with Daisy (Cate Blanchett), as the two of them can only share love at a fleeting moment in the middle of their lives. While critics say the film is sometimes so taken with its own epic grandeur that it doesn’t quite register emotionally, Button is visually remarkable thanks to some groundbreaking special effects, and Pitt is admirably nuanced in the title role. At 74 percent on the Tomatometer, the Curious may want to check this one out. (And click here for our interview with screenwriter Eric Roth.)
“So this is what Australia looks like…”
After months of rumor, innuendo, and release-date switcheroos, Bryan Singer’s World War II thriller, Valkyrie, is finally hitting theaters. And the pundits say it’s certainly not the disaster that industry buzz might have portended; instead, it’s respectable, if not spectacular. Tom Cruise stars as Claus von Stauffenberg, the ringleader of a plot by German officers to assassinate Adolph Hitler. It may sound like a plodding procedural, but the critics say the film is well-constructed and sharply-paced, a respectable adaptation of a remarkable true story. However, others say the performances are something of a mixed bag, and a sense of anticlimax can weigh down even some of the sharper scenes. Valkyrie currently stands at 58 percent on the Tomatometer.
“No, Tom, you can’t wear the general’s uniform. Get over it.”
Pooch-lovers the world over will likely rejoice at the prospect of Marley and Me, since they get to see the antics of an adorable canine. However, critics say lovers of drama and comedy may find this one to be lacking. Based on John Grogan’s bestselling memoir, Marley and Me stars Owen Wilson as a newspaper columnist who, along with his wife Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) adopts a Labrador retriever as a trial run for parenthood. Unfortunately, the dog is ill-behaved, destroying the house and occasionally threatening the couple’s sanity despite maintaining some measure of lovability. The pundits say what worked on the page doesn’t translate to the screen, as complexity and nuance have been jettisoned in favor a light blend of comedy and drama that feels, well, dog-eared. At 40 percent on the Tomatometer, you may not want to fetch Marley and Me.
“Warmhearted dramedy or Viagra ad? You make the call.”
Frank Miller’s noir-ish aesthetic fueled such muscular visual treats as Sin City (which he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez) and 300. Now, he’s all alone in the director’s chair with The Spirit — and critics say the result is a big disappointment. Adapted from the Will Eisner comic strip, The Spirit follows the title character (Gabriel Macht) — a slain cop who returns from the grave to fight crime — as he tangles with the evil Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson). Negotiating the dark streets of Central City, our hero keeps running into a bevy of femme fatales (including Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson) with murky motives. The pundits say The Spirit‘s over-the-top characterizations could be forgiven in the right circumstances — see Sin City — but the movie is crafted with little regard for coherence, the performances are generally histrionic, and the whole enterprise verges on camp. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes aren’t feeling The Spirit.
“I deserve better than this. I’m mother****in’ Sam Jackson!”
John Patrick Shanley has adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play Doubt to the screen, and critics say it’s a worthy showcase for some of the finest acting you’ll see this year. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Father Flynn, a priest trying to bring new life to the staid world of a Bronx Catholic school. However, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is threatened by some of his changes — and that’s before she hears rumors that he’s been spending too much time with the school’s first African American student. The pundits say Doubt at times has a stagey, un-cinematic feel, but it’s more than redeemed by its air of moral ambiguity and outstanding performances; in addition to Streep and Hoffman, Viola Davis and Amy Adams have also earned high marks (and Golden Globes nods). Certified Fresh at 75 percent on the Tomatometer, there’s no Doubt this is a strong film. (Click here for RT’s interview with Davis.)
“So tell me more about this ‘Andalasia.'”
Also opening this week in limited release:
Waltz with Bashir, a surreal animated feature that delves into one man’s memories of the 1983 Lebanon War, is at 94 percent.
Secret of the Grain, about a the complex domestic interactions of a Tunisian family that owns a restaurant in France, is at 90 percent.
Recent Brad Pitt Movies:
After a burst of production activity that saw Judd Apatow taking a producer’s credit on Drillbit Taylor, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express, he’s making plans to return to the director’s chair.
Variety reports that Apatow has committed to direct and write an untitled comedy for Universal and Sony, and though he’s “keeping the plot under wraps,” he’s already acquired the acting services of Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, and Leslie Mann.
The project continues an Apatow tradition of working with familiar faces — both Sandler and Rogen are longtime associates, and Mann is his wife. Sandler’s involvement comes on the heels of You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, which he co-wrote with Apatow and Robert “For Me to Poop On” Smigel. The cast is all busy outside the Apatow umbrella, however; as Variety notes, Sandler is currently shooting Adam Shankman‘s Bedtime Stories, while Mann is starring opposite Zac Efron in 17 Again and Rogen will soon be heard in Horton Hears a Who.