For every Bill Murray and Will Ferrell who made the successful transition from “Saturday Night Live” to big-screen acclaim, there were more who either never made the jump or had a spurt of movie stardom before petering out. ArmchairCinema.com’s Jerry Dean Roberts returns to the “Online Movie Show” podcast to discuss why some SNL comics became movie stars and others didn’t.
The sequel to Genndy Tartakovsky’s entertaining “Hotel Transylvania” is what I’d define as blatant cash grab. It’s a follow up with a very typical and broadly written turn of events, what narrative it offers for the follow up is slim and often times nowhere to be found, all the while the sequel as a whole feels like a glorified pilot for the inevitable “Hotel Transylvania” TV show. I almost expect an announcement after the initial sales for the home video release about a TV show coming down the pipe. The movie essentially sets up characters for a TV series, and it’s barely competent as a sequel. Of course rather than focus on the dynamic between Mavis and new husband Johnny, we now view them as parents.
You can’t even be mad at Adam Sandler anymore. If he’s not trying to break out of his comfort zone, all we can really do is watch the slow painful death of his career, while he brings Netflix down with him. Sandler silently stumbles in to “The Ridiculous 6” with an obvious bored, half asleep performance, and leaves the film with a cool pay day and the hope that at least one or two of his remaining fans will love what he’s put out in the form of this hideous western comedy that doesn’t even try to re-invent the wheel. Netflix doesn’t seem to be demanding much from Sandler, so it’s apparent here that Sandler isn’t even working toward offering nothing we haven’t already seen in the last fifteen years ad nauseum. Almost like a contractual obligation, “The Ridiculous 6” is a greatest hits compilation of no brainer Sandler tropes that fill up the required two hour run time.
Even with the great Genndy Tartakovsky behind the screen, I held out almost no hope for “Hotel Transylvania,” because even in an animated film for kids, Adam Sandler is never above casting his slew of pseudo talented friends as the supporting cast. Like most Sandler productions, “Hotel Transylvania” can occasionally be loud and silly, but when it reaches down for a heart, it manages to be a sweet bit of family fare.
Part of me wants to acknowledge that perhaps Sandler is woefully oblivious of the talent he possesses and is just a guy who doesn’t appreciate the potential to deliver great dramatic tales. But watching “Reign Over Me” confirms that he’s likely very aware of the talent he possesses and instead just chooses to have fun with a horrible comedy every once and a while. And I can respect that. Even if I’ll take “Reign Over Me” over “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” any day of the week. Only one in the growing number of dramas specifically geared toward men, “Reign Over Me” is that middle of the roads melodrama that explores how grief and loss can often control the way we live.
Rob Schneider, David Spade, I want you to get down on all fours and thank the stars you know Adam Sandler. Thank Sandler. Build an altar to him and thank him for helping your mere shreds you call careers. Where would you be without that douche bag? Nowhere and you know it. How else can you explain your cameos in “Grandma’s Boy,” an otherwise glorified custom made vehicle for all of Sandler’s pals? “Grandma’s Boy” is a vain film. Vain in the assumption that through endless sex jokes, and weed induced sight gags, that it’s making a commentary about ageism. Really, it’s nothing but a veil thrown over it to add a thin sense of non-existent intelligence.
When you really recollect what you’ve just seen, when the credits start to roll and you’re settled in and thinking back with a fond remembrance, you know that “Spanglish” isn’t an exceptional movie. As a comedy the laughs are minimal. It’s more of an absurdist comedy than a laugh out loud comedy, as a drama it can be manipulative, and altogether it’s just mediocre. Now, I for one, dislike anything that’s praised as brilliant when the product is mediocre (Harry Potter), but what sold me on “Spanglish” was not the story, but the performances, and the key powerful performances are not from the people who obtain top billing.