Adam Sandler has a long history in Hollywood. Most of his work in that time has come in comedic films, some more well-received than others. Undoubtedly, he’s had some iconic roles and movies in that genre. But Sandler has appeared in other roles and genres. Most notably, the sports movies in his filmography stand out.
Sandler is no stranger to more serious roles, as his work in films like Reign Over Me and The Meyerowitz Stories shows. Some of those roles contain a mixture of drama and comedy. His sports movies include all of the above. The likes of Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy are the more straightforward comedic entries, while Hustle is much closer to the drama end of the spectrum. Add in The Longest Yard and Uncut Gems, which revolves around his character’s sports gambling debt, and you have an interesting list of movies with one overarching theme.
Adam Sandler’s Early Sports Movies Are Pop Culture Phenoms
Adam Sandler’s sports movies cover hockey, golf, football, and basketball. The first two, Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy, live long in the memory of most who have seen them. They are still subject to the occasional pop culture reference and meme. Indeed, as reported by Collider, in 2021, some pro-golfers attempted to recreate the famous swing from Happy Gilmore. Sandler even celebrated the movie’s 25th anniversary by showcasing the swing again.
These movies and the others on the list are fun to rewatch. Most of them could have a sequel, and it’s likely said sequels would have done just as well as the originals. Indeed, Sandler stated that he thought as much about The Waterboy. It’s unlikely he would be doing as much hard-hitting as he did in the previous film, but long debates about H2O versus Gatorade are still welcome. The Longest Yard might be the least recognized of the bunch, but it also had its moments. The continued popularity of the older movies shows they made their mark, and the latter two improved on that.
Uncut Gems makes it into the sports realm because a good portion of the movie concerns betting on sports and the involvement of one Kevin Garnett. The film was anxiety-inducing, and Sandler’s character, Howard Ratner, took viewers on a rollercoaster ride. That ride led to talk about a potential Oscar nomination for Sandler, but it didn’t occur in the end. His latest entry, Hustle, didn’t receive quite the accolades that Uncut Gems did, but it holds its own. Where Hustle stood out was how it represented the particular aspects of basketball that related to the story moviegoers saw.
It helped that Sandler loves basketball and had many real-life basketball personalities in the film, including his co-star. Sandler put forward a great portrayal of a longtime NBA scout hoping to break into coaching. The result was fun to watch. Sandler’s latest two films showed that his sports movies aren’t all about comedy, and it could be argued they are the best in that category. That doesn’t mean the older entries will be forgotten. Sports movies may only make up a small portion of Sandler’s work, but they may be the best category.