Adam Sandler: The 8 Highest Highs and 7 Lowest Lows Of His Career

Adam Sandler has had a career that has been full of some fantastic movies, but man oh man, has he also been in some real stinkers too. If it wasn't bad enough, he's brought down some of the best actors around like Al Pacino. Below, we're going to cover the 8 best films, but also 7 of the worst films that Adam Sandler has appeared in.

With any actor, and especially a comedian like Sandler, everyone's opinion is going to be different. It's very possible, that one movie that I think was one of his best, was actually his worst, and vice versa. Here, not only do we talk about the movie, but we've also tracked down the critics' opinions, and covered some of the more scathing comments that have been directed at Sandler; including one critic who said that one of his movies added "another soiled feather to Sandler’s cap of mediocrity."

You'll also get to hear Sandler's thoughts on his critics, and find out just how much money these movies went on to earn. One thing is for sure, just because critics hated the movie doesn't mean it didn't earn money!

Get to the end and still want to learn more about Adam Sandler? Feel free to check out our list on 15 shocking facts about Adam Sandler!


15 Best - Happy Gilmore

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Even if you absolutely cannot stand Happy Gilmore, you gotta admit that it’s pretty awesome that we got to see a Bob Barker fight scene. In fact, Barker has gone on the record and said that appearing in the movie was influential in the show starting to attract a younger audience. The movie didn’t explode at the box office, earning $41.2 million on a budget of $12 million, but it was also the first time that Sandler paired up with comedic director Dennis Dugan. Unfortunately, Dugan went on to also direct some awful Sandler films (That's My Boy and Jack and Jill) but it’s always cool to see where these two made their first connection.

The movie also stars Julie Bowen, who you may best recognize for her role of Claire Dunphy on Modern Family. Whether or not you hate Sandler, it’s clear that he works hard. Did you know that he also wrote the script alongside Tim Herlihy?

14 Worst - I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

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You have to admit, if you got to work with your buddies as often as Adam Sandler gets to work with his, you’d be pretty happy. He and Kevin James go way back, but perhaps their most prominent co-starring came in 2007 with the controversial comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. The movie featured Sandler and James entering into a fake civil union with each other. This gets all the more complicated when Sandler starts to fall in love with co-star Jessica Biel’s character, who thinks Sandler is gay and in love with James.

The movie came under heat for Rob Schneider’s racist caricature and his usage of 'Yellowface'. The movie was nominated for 8 Raspberry (Razzie) awards but didn't actually win. This proves that while it was awful, it wasn’t quite as bad as the other things out there that year. If you are curious, it was beaten out by I Know Who Killed Me, which makes sense when you consider that it’s a movie in which Lindsay Lohan is the lead actress!

13 Best - Punch-Drunk Love

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Adam Sandler has had many movies that went on to bomb with critics yet made a stupid amount of money. For Punch-Drunk Love, we had the opposite happen. Sandler was fantastic in his role of Barry Egan, a lonely plunger salesman, and critics totally got on board giving it an average of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, fans didn’t care for the role, and the movie only brought in $17.8 million.

Critics were so tired of seeing Sandler playing the same old character, causing critic Roger Ebert to praise Sandler who was “liberated from the constraints of formula [and] revealed unexpected depths as an actor".

Director Paul Thomas Anderson earned an award for Best Director at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, perhaps the critics realized how impressive it was to get a critically-approved Adam Sandler movie!

12 Worst - Just Go With It

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There are a lot of critics out there that have written some pretty harsh things about Sandler in the past, but there probably isn't anything wittier than when Richard Roeper wrote that Just Go With It! was “An early contender for worst movie of the year. If they were showing this on an airplane, I'd ask for a parachute”. Yikes! Roeper was far from alone, and the movie only registered 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.

When Sandler took home his Razzie award for Worst Actor in Jack and Jill, this movie was also being taken into consideration. And while she didn't win, Nicole Kidman was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress. The movie had the advantage of casting the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker, but that was hardly enough to distract from the awful story, in which Sandler tries to fake that his wife had just left him so he could get women to sleep with him. Granted his wife did leave him and cheat on him right before their wedding, but he runs this scheme for about 20 years - that's just a tad extreme.

The movie drags on for 117 minutes, but the star power of Aniston and Sandler cannot be denied and it still churned in $215 million at the box office. This one may not make critics swoon, but with numbers like that, you can understand why the studio tells him to Just Go with it!

11 Best - The Waterboy

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Adam Sandler could make awful movies for the rest of his career, but he still gave us The Waterboy and for that, we should all be very grateful. The Waterboy came out in 1998 and also starred Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk and Henry Winkler.

Sandler played Bobby Boucher who bared a strong resemblance to his character of Canteen Boy from Saturday Night Live. It was one of the first big films for Sandler and it went on to earn $186 million off of it’s modest $23 million budget. It was this movie and The Wedding Singer that helped Sandler fund his own production company, Happy Madison Productions.

Now that’s not to say critics love it, in fact, it’s at 35% on RottenTomatoes and Roger Ebert put it on his list of Most Hated movies, but there is no doubting it’s one of his more quotable movies. You disagree? Well, let’s hope I don’t have to learn what it feels like to open up a can of "whoop-ass."

10 Worst - That’s My Boy

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Just because it's family movie night with your son, it doesn't mean that it has to be your movie choice! Especially when you hear that only 20% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes got behind the 2012 film That's My Boy. Sandler had worked with Samberg in the past, perhaps most successfully on Hotel Transylvania, but this film was a mess. Unlike most of Sandler’s films that fail with critics, this one also failed at the box office and only brought in $57 million in comparison to the $70 million budget.

One of the highlights of the film was that it was a return to R-Rated comedies for Sandler who had toned things down with a series of family-friendly movies. When talking about that experience, Sandler said “it was fun to speak the way that I speak in my bathroom. It felt good to get it out there again. I don’t know. I grew up cursing a lot. It felt natural."

If you’re looking for reasons why the movie fell apart, the fact that they had Vanilla Ice play Sandler’s best friend is probably not a great start.

9 Best - 50 First Dates

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Now, this movie may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely resonated with enough people to bring in $120.7 million at the box office, and it's also one of my personal favorites. We got to see Adam Sandler reunited with Drew Barrymore on screen, who had come together for The Wedding Singer in 1998.

The movie stars Sandler as Henry Roth, a marine veterinarian who falls in love with Lucy Whitmore, who just happens to suffer from short-term memory loss. You may groan at some of the sappy or cheesy parts, but there is plenty of heart-warming fun to be had as well. Nevertheless, critics attacked the movie, giving it a score of 44%, blaming some of the overly gross humor. While Roger Ebert is all over the map on his stance on Sandler, this time, he praised him saying “He reveals the warm side of his personality, and leaves behind the hostility, [and] anger ... the movie doesn't have the complexity and depth of Groundhog Day... but as entertainment, it's ingratiating and lovable.”


8 Worst - Little Nicky

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When critics give your movie a rating of 22% and say that watching it was like spending 84 minutes in hell, you’re probably not off to a great start. Sandler came together with Patricia Arquette and Harvey Keitel to make Little Nicky in 2000. Sandler plays one of the sons of Satan who tries to prevent his brothers from taking over the world. "Because, you know who I want to try and save the day? Adam Sandler!" said nobody - ever. To top it off, Sandler’s character is made all the more annoying by the speech impediment they gave him. 

The movie was nominated for 5 Razzie Awards, but lost all of them to the horrendous Battlefield Earth that starred John Travolta. If you think the critics bother Sandler though, think again. In 2000, when talking about the experience of having bad reviews, Sandler said, “Now, I'm more like, "**** you. I don't give a ****, in the beginning, I did, when I did Billy Madison, but now I realize I didn't get into this business to have a critic like me. I got into it to get people to laugh. As a kid, I went to the movies to laugh my ass off, to hang out with my friends, to go on a date.” If Sandler didn’t care in 2000, you can imagine how little he cares now.

7 Best - Hotel Transylvania

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Adam Sandler is a talented actor, but one thing to know about him is that he is also a father. Which is why when you get to see him make animated movies like Hotel Transylvania (which came out when his daughters were 6, and 4), your heart needs to warm for the guy, at least a little bit. Some more notable voices you can expect to hear are  Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, and Nick Offerman.

Critics didn’t get behind the movie (shocker) polling it at 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it did make a grand total of $358,375,603; proving that the wallet is what reigns supreme. A sequel even followed, and went on to make roughly $469 million and was released in 90 countries. Though critics were a little more kinder to it than the first one, (it got a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes), there were still plenty of haters including one critic saying the film adds “another soiled feather to Sandler’s cap of mediocrity." Well, sorry to break it to you movie critic guy, but a third one is coming your way in the near future!

6 Worst - Jack and Jill

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By the time Jack and Jill came out in 2011, people were already pretty sick of seeing Adam Sandler. So, one in which he plays both a man and a woman, is probably not going to make for a very good movie. For his terrible portrayal, Sandler received a Razzie award for Worst Actor and Worst Actress; Al Pacino also picked one up for Worst Supporting Actor, and David Spade took home Worst Supporting Actress for his character in drag. In fact, this movie won 10 Razzie awards, which is more than any other movie in history; so it literally may be the worst movie ever made. Are congratulations in order?

Movie critic, Andrew Barker, may have said it best when he wrote that the film’s “general stupidity, careless direction and reliance on a single-joke premise that was never really funny to begin with are only the most obvious of its problems." Barker's opinion was backed as the movie had an overall score of 3% on RottenTomatoes. Despite all of this, the movie still somehow went on to make a decent $70.7 million profit.

5 Best - Reign Over Me

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If you want to see Adam Sandler take on an incredibly different role, how about the time he played Charlie Fineman, a man who lost his wife and children in the 9/11 attacks? Five years after the tragedy, and depressed, Sandler accidentally runs into his old college roommate who's played by the fantastic Don Cheadle (better known as, War Machine). The movie is far from light, but does portray the value and power that a rekindled friendship can have on someone. Just don’t go into it expecting your typical Sandler immaturity!

Unfortunately, the story didn’t do well at the box office, earning only $19.6 million. However, it still managed to touch a chord with the people that did seek it out; it registered at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, and many people praised the movie for its usage of video games as a coping method for Sandler's character.

When talking about his experience filming the movie, Sandler said “It was painful to do. I know it was very important for the part to feel as much as I could, so I tried to just be prepared for everyday. It wasn’t like movies I’ve done in the past where I’m laughing and having a great time on the set. It was definitely heavier.”

4 Worst - BulletProof


Adam Sandler has been awful in a lot of comedies, but this time, you get to see him be awful in an action movie. Bulletproof came out in 1996 and, not only did it fail at the box office (earning $21.1 million), but it also received a measly 8% on RottenTomatoes. The movie starred Sandler and Damon Wayans as two criminals. Apparently, Wayans was considered for the role after he appeared as a host on Saturday Night Live and mentioned to Sandler that it would be fun to do an action movie together. So, they're good buddies until Sandler finds out that Wayans is an undercover cop. After some years, they are required to work together again when Wayans is forced to protect Sandler as a witness.

If it makes the film sound any better, it was originally pitched as something that Ice-T may be interested in. The director of the movie, Ernest R. Dickerson spoke out against the movie saying that the producers absolutely destroyed the final cut of the movie with their edits and input. But you do get to see Sandler shoot someone in the eye, so I mean, at least the movie had that going for it.

3 Best - Funny People

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Regardless of whether or not you loved Funny People, it is definitely another example of Adam Sandler stepping out of his comfort zone to play a character with some real depth. Which is ironic when you consider that the character he plays is a movie star who had grown tired of making dumb comedies, and then gets diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. With only an 8% chance to live, Sandler returns to his roots of stand-up comedy, when he meets and connects with Seth Rogen, who is a young and aspiring comedian. Of course, the writers had to include a love interest for our dying lead, as Sandler and his former fiancée, Laura (Leslie Mann), rekindle their romance.

Critics praised Sandler for opening up his wheelhouse and the movie ranked 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. While this was far from director Judd Apatow’s best film, as opposed to his 40 Year Old Virgin (85%), it’s still a valiant performance worth checking out.

2 Worst - The Ridiculous Six

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You didn't think we'd let you finish this list without including an Adam Sandler movie that literally ranked 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, did you? Not even one critic liked it! Not even out of pity! The Ridiculous Six featured Sandler and 5 other bizarre strangers hanging out in the Wild West.

This was the first movie that Sandler made after partnering up with Netflix. He also came out with The Do-Over, which didn't fare much better; earning only 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. Since this was a several-picture deal, you can be sure that these awful reviews aren't going to be enough to stop Sandler from coming at you again in the near future. Somehow, The Ridiculous Six was the most-watched movie in Netflix history. People just seem to care about his movies, even if they are awful. Or, perhaps it’s just another case of “It’s just so bad, how can I not watch it?”

1  1. Best - The Wedding Singer

As you know by this point, critics haven't exactly been the kindest to Adam Sandler. So, when you find out that The Wedding Singer got 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, it might as well have won best picture! Sandler played Robert Hart, who tries to win over the affection of Julia Sullivan, played by Drew Barrymore. It definitely has a few sappy moments, as critics point out, but the movie was also a tremendous financial success earning $123.3 million on a budget of only $18 million.

The movie also has the neat distinction of being turned into a stage musical that debuted on Broadway back in April 2006. While both Sandler and Barrymore’s careers have slowed down as of late, at least in terms of putting out great performances, you can travel back to 1998 and see them both in one of their most reputable roles. Just don’t blame me when the cheesy music gets stuck in your head.

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