Long ago, Adam Sandler stopped making dumb comedies, and started making smart business deals. The ninety-minute things you perceive as "movies" are in fact the culmination of Sandler's lifelong desire to be a maximum-paid star who exerts a minimum of effort. His films are shot in as lazy a way as possible (often with him just standing there in jeans and a t-shirt, delivering his lines in a stupid voice). He writes and produces in addition to acting, which swells his fees and royalties to the Brad Pitt level.
Sandler offsets the costs of these productions by whoring out every other scene with product placement, from a myriad of outside companies or through "synergized" placements of products which are sold by another division of the movie studio's parent company (like a Sony Vaio computer seen in a Sony-owned Columbia Pictures film). And, to quote Liberace, he laughs all the way to the bank while doing it.
Whether you agree with me or have already rolled your eyes and moved on - it makes no difference, because the above paragraphs are true. Like Sandler? Hate Sandler? Care nothing about Sandler? Doesn't matter. He has made himself into a minor industry which pumps out one film a year that are loaded with lowbrow humor, ads for Applebees and Coca-Cola, and sad cameos from the ghouls of Saturday Night Live - and he does it in a way that the studio industry just goes orgasmic over.
Specifically, with a lot of profit margin. A typical Adam Sandler production costs $60-80 million to produce (which may seem an obscene amount for a dumb comedy, but that's barely 40% the budget of "Avatar"). His films historically double their money back, with some scoring a 3x or 4x return. This track record makes them great, great investments. If I ran a studio, I'd green-light anything he brought me.
Whether you acknowledge that studio films are nothing more than products designed to get your money - that makes no difference either, since entertaining you is a side-mission. Studios never sink their capital into a project with no return potential. They don't want your adulation or approval, just your money.
And you all (in some way or another) give the studios your money. Oh yes you do. What's that? You download all your movies from bit torrent and never buy a DVD nor pay to see a movie at the cinema nor rent from Netflix? Fair enough. Do you pay for cable though? Oh yes, you do - and guess where a fraction of your cable bill money ends up. I mean, HBO and TBS don't get to run "Grown-Ups" and "Just Go With It" for free.
Sandler's product is near-infallible in its profitability, and is totally bulletproof to criticism. No recent Adam Sandler film has any champions whatsoever - even his drooling fanboys point to early efforts like "The Waterboy" and "Happy Gilmore" as the *real* Sandler classics - yet his new films consistently get $80-140 million out of the pockets of American teenagers, stoners, and/or stoned teenagers. Comedy is a tough sell in the foreign market, but Sandler plays well in certain countries, so his returns there are notable. Viz., he's bankable worldwide.
Now I'm not attacking the content of his films at all. Go back and check, I've yet to say anything mean-spirited or dismissive. I've just told the truth: Adam Sandler makes dumb comedies. You enjoy them, or you don't. Anyone who's read this far actually likes his work or thinks he's a retarded buffoon who somehow got lucky enough to go from Opera Man to $20 Mil Per Pic Man. Sandler has rarely acted in projects that stretch his screen range (such as in dramas, or the old standby comedians use to prove their acting chops - the psycho villain in a thriller), and when he has, he's been ignored (see "Punch Drunk Love").
So he stopped bothering. Aside from the sigh-inducing sentimental moments that all stories require, Sandler's films are nothing more than dumb jokes from start to finish, with no ambition at all in the areas of endearing character building, smart storytelling, clever set-ups, or artful beauty. You cannot describe his stuff with the words "sublime," "blissful," "witty," or "astute."
He's not fucking Oscar Wilde, guys: he's Adam Sandler. He does lazily-made dumb comedies. He stands there. Another character is deformed or stupid. He makes fun of that character. And, scene. The camera rarely moves. The actors rarely move. There are rarely extras in the shot. Movement of the camera, actors, and extras requires time and effort. Sandler films aren't about time and effort. They're about dumb jokes, shot as efficiently as possible and with lots of cost-offsetting product placement. They're about making shit-tons of money off kids and stoned grown-ups.
Which he does. Ergo, Sandler deserves the credit of genius. Goddamnit, Adam Sandler is a genius. Look at his track record. Look at his box office. Look at his continued presence as a top-billed star. That ain't no accident, folks, it's the culmination of many years of shrewd show business acumen, and that equals "genius" for all intents and purposes.
I'm not saying his *work* is genius. Comedy that's labeled "genius" comes from genius comics: for example, Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Woody Allen, The Coen Brothers, and Monty Python. Set on a high pedestal, the works of these learned men reek of the sweat leaking out of their enormous brains; the strain and craft which produces the perfect lunatic joke or obtuse set-up. But all those geniuses' gate receipts combined probably just barely pass The Waterboy.
So in terms of making the kind of movies that movie studios like to make (i.e., money-makers), no one in comedy comes close to Sandler's record of efficiency and longevity. And while many of the other SNL heroes who'd carried a more deserving tag of genius have all but totally vanished from the hit-comedy-film department (I'm looking at you, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, et al.), Sandler just keeps chugging along, crap movie after crap movie, 20 years later with no end in sight.
Personally, his stuff has long ago bored me to tears, and is only interesting to see which loser SNL friends besides Rob Schneider will show up, and how Dan Patrick will embarrass himself with his cameo. But my opinion doesn't matter - the business deals speak for themselves, and Sandler'll be making dumb comedies until he gets tired of it. He'll be our generation's Jerry Lewis. Get used to the idea now that by 2030, Adam Sandler will be hosting an annual telethon for some charity.
For a more detailed, profane, and far funnier analysis of his work, I recommend these guys.