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June 13th, 2012 MATTHEW SINGER | Movie Reviews & Stories
 

Whine Tasting With Adam Sandler

Parsing the not-many voices of America’s laziest comedian.

movies.box.thats_my_boy_3832MIDDLE-AGED DIRTBAG: Sandler in That’s My Boy. - IMAGE: Tracy Bennett
     
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At this point, it’s clear Adam Sandler is just trolling us. He’s self-aware enough to know he’s the laziest, most cash-grabbingest comic actor in the country. You can’t even hate him for it, really. He’s made a fortune by barely trying. Isn’t that, in a nutshell, the American dream?

In fairness, his new movie, That’s My Boy—which did not screen before WW press deadlines—looks slightly more promising than a lot of his recent work. Still, it appears to follow the usual Sandler formula: a one-note premise (Adam Sandler is Andy Samberg’s deadbeat dad!) with minor tweaks to the same silly voice (mentally stunted man-child...from Bawston!).

Then again, what do I know? Maybe Sandler is actually a master craftsman. Maybe his silly voices are like fine wines, their subtleties perceptible only to true aficionados. So we asked an expert. Two, in fact. One is Jeff Conn, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University. The other is our own senior goofy-accents analyst, Rusty Feathercap. Conn’s thoughtful analysis of Sandler’s various “linguistic guises” is here. Feathercap’s own invaluable insights are below.


Billy Madison
(1995)
In which Sandler introduces the “overgrown 12-year-old” archetype he’s recycled in practically every role since.

Rusty Feathercap: “Here he speaks a dead language called ‘mock retarded.’ We haven’t heard it much since Jerry Lewis’ heyday, primarily because it’s only funny to children and stoned people.”



The Waterboy
(1998)
In which Sandler plays a stuttering social recluse with rage issues. 

“I’m getting smoky Louisiana overtones here—think James Carville—but this accent is primarily Rain Man-ese with a just a hint of misremembered Foghorn Leghorn.”


Little Nicky (2000)
In which Sandler plays the emo son of Satan and talks like he got hit in the face with a brick. (Actually, it was a shovel.)

“Sandler is making a distinct effort to speak Ed McMahonish here, but he’s landing somewhere in the region of Humphrey Bogartese.”


Punch-Drunk Love
(2002)
In which Sandler more or less plays Adam Sandler, only sadder. 

“Nothing regional here, save for the shards of Sandler’s own Brooklyn accent, which was lost long ago in a fog of prank calls and poor taste.”


You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (2008)
In which Sandler plays an Israeli assassin-turned-hairstylist.

“About 60 percent of this is an amalgam of all your Eastern European nations, and the other 40 percent is mostly lifted from Sacha Baron Cohen.”


SEE IT: That’s My Boy is rated R and opens Friday at Lloyd Center, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Mill Plain, Cornelius, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Bridgeport, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Movies On TV, Sherwood, Tigard, Wilsonville, Sandy.

 
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