There’s a good and bad to Netflix. It grants creators license to do some wild shit for very niche audiences. But most Netflix movies suffer a made-for-television feel that costs a film’s vitality. Somewhere in the middle, there’s Adam Sandler, benefiting from both.
Or that’s what I assume, anyway. I haven’t seen many of these Netflix films, but I’m going to spend this week checking them out to see if a license to do whatever he wants has helped him create any new secret classics stupid fans like me can use to defend him when the need arises. I’m not including his standup special 100% FRESH because it’s superiority is not to be argued.
Today’s Entry: THE RIDICULOUS 6
Directed By Frank Coraci (THE WEDDING SINGER, THE WATERBOY, CLICK, BLENDED)
THE RIDICULOUS 6 was Sandler’s first Netflix original, and he came out swinging with a full comedy. One that had been passed up by three studios beforehand, and one that earned a shiny 0% Fresh from Rotten Tomatoes afterward. This is, for better or worse, Sandler going full-Sandler. Too Sandler for theaters, somehow.
This means we get an eyeful of every Sandler indulgence there is. Nearly all his friends appear. The jokes are juvenile. Scatological humor abounds. And the amount of cultural appropriation is simply off the charts, drawing from a comedy playbook that was burned to crisp ages ago. This is a film for all the dads, uncles and grandpas out there who everyone quietly tolerates at Thanksgiving. Everyone else should steer clear.
Everyman Sandler, Sad Sandler, or Wild Sandler?
Wild Sandler, with just a hint of Sad Sandler. He does a voice in this one - a Clint Eastwood grizzled whisper - which is an automatic Wild. But he also plays it small and straight while his costars go big, which is a bit Sad Sandler. But then his voice has a slight Native American affect, which brings it back to Wild.
Sandler Regulars Present:
Not quite everyone but pretty close. Old friends: Rob Schneider, David Spade, Nick Swardson, Norm Macdonald, Blake Clark and Jon Lovitz.
Newer friends: Blake Shelton, Vanilla Ice, Lavell Crawford.
Other SNL alums: Chris Kattan, Will Forte, Chris Parnell.
And then the classic roster of truly great actors who just love Sandler and end up being the film’s MVPs: Nick Nolte, Steve Zahn Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro.
On top of all that, there’s Taylor Lautner, Jorge Garcia, Terry Crews, and Danny Trejo. Basically, any time a character turns up, you will recognize them.
Could It Make It To Theaters?
Apparently not. Sony, Paramount and Warner Bros all passed on it. Warner may have fallen through simply because of Sandler’s Netflix deal, but this doesn’t seem like a film anyone was eager to make.
Is it funny, or does it just sound funny?
I regret to inform you that, yes, THE RIDICULOUS 6 is funny. But only if you are already inclined to enjoy Adam Sandler’s comedy idiosyncrasies. This is unfiltered Sandler and there are about a million swings at jokes. There is bound to be some good with all that bad.
There is a lot of good, in fact. The comedy in THE RIDICULOUS 6 is a real dance. For every joke that hits, you have to sit through a lot of garbage. The film is almost single-handedly ruined by Taylor Lautner, whose every line truly represents the bottom rung of Sandler’s comedy tendencies. A lot of critics come ready to bury Adam Sandler comedies and Lautner, combined with a donkey who has weaponized diarrhea, gives them all the reason they needed. And they’re not exactly wrong.
But there’s so much weird stuff that works. I won’t list every funny thing because that would be tedious, but there are a ton of Sandler absurdities and bizarre running gags at play. On top of that, THE RIDICULOUS 6 is a lot more interested in being a Western than making fun of Westerns from a modern perspective like Seth MacFarlane’s A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. Having said that, it makes jokes from dropping unexpected modern slang, which mostly worked on me, and fucks around with stunt casting to mixed results - Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain for instance.
Is it too goddamn long?
A two-hour-long comedy is too goddamn long. I’m torn, though, because the best bits here are the narratively useless digressions. At one point Sandler’s crew stumbles upon John Turturro as Abner Doubleday who invents baseball right in front of them, making up the rules on the fly to ensure his success in his game against them. It’s exactly why this film runs two hours, but it’s also the last part you’d want to get rid of.
Bad Sandler, Good Sandler, or Great Sandler?
Because this is an all-out comedy, I can’t put it down as Bad Sandler. Even at its most reprehensible, it’s so much better than his films where he’s a goofball American dad trying to please all audiences. Were it not for Lautner, I might put it somewhere in the upper tier, even. But that Lautner stuff sours my goodwill every step of the way. It’s Good Sandler and I feel conflict about that in both directions.