adam sandler movies : billy madison

Screengrab via Movieclips/YouTube

All 44 Adam Sandler movies, ranked from best to unwatchable

How does your favorite stack up?

Mar 27, 2020, 12:03 am*

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Eddie Strait 

Eddie Strait

After subsisting on a steady diet of Adam Sandler comedies throughout the ’90s, there came a day when I had a realization: What if some of Adam Sandler movies aren’t good? Moreover, what if most of them are actually terrible? Then Little Nicky hit, and I had to rethink everything I thought I knew

As audiences grew up and Sandler’s characters stayed the same, the people who once dutifully turned out for each movie… well, they continued to show up anyway. Despite never making a dent with critics, most of Sandler’s comedies proved successful at the box office. (South Park famously lampooned his output in an episode in which Cartman, disguised as the robot AWESOM-O 4000, comes up with over 1,000 movie ideas for Hollywood in a week, 800 of which star Sandler and all of them celebrated by the movie executives. Movie idea number 2,305: “Adam Sandler is trapped on an island and falls in love with a coconut.”)

Then, a funny thing happened: The artistic side of Sandler starting peeking out, first with Paul Thomas Anderson and Punch-Drunk Love, which is still considered his creative high point. He’s been wildly inconsistent ever since, but the recent Netflix original movie The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is a welcome reminder of how captivating Sandler can be in a more serious role. The movie is just one of eight Sandler has committed to for Netflix, after expanding his initial contract in March 2017, following the streaming success of his first two Netflix hits, 2015’s The Ridiculous 6 and last year’s The Do-Over. 

With plenty on Netflix now to choose from and even more available to stream or rent elsewhere, now is an ideal time to reflect back on the best Adam Sandler movies. Get your queue in order.

Adam Sandler movies: The essentials

1. Punch-Drunk Love

Adam Sandler movies : Punch drunk love

This choice is too easy, but it’s so obviously the correct pick. Not only is Sandler’s boiling rage bit used to maximum effect, but this is the most endearing he’s been as a romantic lead. You’ll find yourself rooting for Barry Egan before you realize it, and by the time Sandler does a grocery store tap dance, you’ll wish Sandler only made movies with Paul Thomas Anderson.

How to watch online: Streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime

2. Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler movies ranked Uncut Gems

Sandler plays compulsive gambler and jeweler Howard Ratner in the manic, propulsive Uncut Gems. Howard is at the center of a chaotic universe, caught between loan sharks, his wife, and his mistress. As Howard closes in on the score that can solve all his problems, the cosmic powers that be have something else in store for him. Directors Josh and Benny Safdie harness Sandler’s energy into a frenzied, manic performance that is impossible to look away from. It’s easily Sandler’s best dramatic work since Punch-Drunk Love.

How to watch online: Available to rent via Google Play, Apple

3. Happy Gilmore

best Adam Sandler movies : Happy gilmore

This was always my favorite of Sandler’s early comedies. The Bob Barker fistfight alone puts Happy in the 90s pantheon. Sandler’s yelling shtick is a comedy crutch, and one that is more wobbly than it is a source of laughs. Maybe I was just the right age when I first saw it, but I still laugh a lot and this goofy golf classic.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix, available to rent via Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play

4. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Adam Sandler movies ranked : Meyerowitz Stories

Sandler’s most recent performance in Noah Baumbach’s Netflix film is so good, so lived in and empathetic, that you don’t want the movie to end. Serious Sandler performances are as rare as an Andre 3000 verse, and each one must be savored in kind. As with Punch-Drunk Love, we can only hope this marks a new chapter in Sandler’s career. If it doesn’t, well. Meyerowitz is still great.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

5. Funny People

Adam Sandler movies : Funny people

The first half of Judd Apatow’s Funny People is the best work Sandler has done in my eyes. I’m an easy mark for the meta self-commentary going on, but that takes nothing away from the acting. Sandler is commenting on his career in ways that are both reflective and irritatingly predictive, but through it all, Sandler is as vulnerable on screen as he’s ever been.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

6. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan

Adam Sandler movie : You don't mess with the zohan

You rolled your eyes before you finished reading the title, didn’t you? I don’t blame you. Zohan is one of the silliest films on Sandler’s résumé and easily the best “Sandler comedy” of the 21st century. It relies on silliness and absurdity rather than maliciousness and potshots, which is one of the reasons Zohan still makes me laugh when I catch it on TV.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

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7. The Wedding Singer

best adam sandler movies : Wedding singer

Sandler and Drew Barrymore captured lightning in a bottle with their ’80s-set rom-com. This marks an interesting point in Sandler’s career, where the romantic plot in one of his movies actually worked. It turned out so well that Sandler and Barrymore would team up two more times, but those movies mainly served to highlight how good The Wedding Singer is.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

8. 100% Fresh

Adam Sandlet movies ranked

The Sandman’s return to stand up is a funny, dirty trip down memory lane. 100% Fresh isn’t a revelatory set by any means, but Sandler is so relaxed onstage that you’ll forget this is his first special in 15 years. There’s a looseness to the material, not riffing but rather like someone who just has jokes they want to share with everyone. Aside from being an enjoyable hour, 100% Fresh has one absolute must see part where Sandler sings a lovely song about Chris Farley.  You expect to laugh at an Adam Sandler comedy special, but you probably don’t expect to cry, but you will.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

9. Reign Over Me

adam sandler movies : Reign Over Me

This is the heaviest of Sandler’s dramatic work. Here he plays Charlie, and man struggling to deal with the people he lost on 9/11. Once again Sandler proves himself more than capable, and he holds his own opposite Don Cheadle.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

10. Big Daddy

adam sandler movies : Big daddy

It’s hard to imagine a screen persona like the one Sandler cultivated in the ’90s taking guardianship of a kid. Yet, that’s exactly the scenario Big Daddy wants you to buy into. And you know, it mostly works. Sandler and Dylan and Cole Sprouse have enough chemistry to make you laugh as they learn to be a family.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

11. 50 First Dates

adam sandler movies : 50 First Dates

Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s second pairing is an ode to young love and how that feeling is hard to recreate. While the movie is fairly predictable, it’s comforting and alluring. It makes for a great compromise on your own date night. 

How to watch online: Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime

12. Murder Mystery

Murder Mystery Adam Sandler movies ranked

Netflix’s latest Adam Sandler comedy, Murder Mystery, is a step up from his last few efforts. Sandler and Jennifer Aniston play Nick and Audrey Sptiz, and when the couple goes on a spur-of-the-moment European vacation, they get themselves caught in the middle of a murder—wait for it—mystery. Not only that, they’re the prime suspects. In order to salvage their vacation and, you know, clear their names, Nick and Audrey must figure out whodunnit.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

13-15. Hotel Transylvania 1-3

animated adam sandler movies : Hotel Transylvania 2

With the Hotel Transylvania films, Sandler has a created the thing that has always eluded him: a family film that is actually enjoyable for families to watch together. A large cast featuring Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Molly Shannon, and all the regular Sandler cohorts provides plenty of silliness. Hotel Transylvania falls into the better-than-you-think category and will keep the whole family smiling.

Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

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Adam Sandler movies: Worth adding to your queue

16. Blended

adam sandler drew barrymore movies : Blended

The third Sandler-Barrymore collaboration reheats the things that worked best about The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, namely the chemistry of the stars, but the rest of the film isn’t up to the earlier standard. This Africa-set adventure about two families coming together doesn’t always hit its comedic marks, but it has enough heart to make up for it.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

17. Airheads

adam sandler movies : airheads

For the music industry, the ’90s may as well have been a hundred years ago compared to the state of things today. Back when radio play meant a lot more, Airheads shows what desperation can do to someone looking for their big break. The Lone Rangers (Sandler, Steve Buscemi, and Brendan Fraser) hold a DJ hostage to get their demo played. The satire isn’t as strong as it could be, but the lead trio is entertaining enough that you’ll still laugh, even if you’ll forget the movie pretty quickly.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

18. Mr. Deeds

adam sandler movies : Mr. Deeds

I always thought Mr. Deeds caught more grief than it deserved, but updating a Frank Capra movie via Happy Madison was always going to draw scorn. Compared to Capra’s classic, Mr. Deeds is a failure. But compared to other Sandler movies, it’s pleasant enough. Do with that what you will.

How to watch online: Streaming on HBO Go

19. The Waterboy

best adam sandler movies : The Waterboy

I’ll always love The Waterboy for one particular joke. There’s a wrestler named Captain Insane-O, and for some reason, that name has kept me giggling for 20 years. The rest of the film has enough laughs, mostly from the visual gag of Sandler destroying people much bigger than him. This is one that always makes me chuckle when I come across it on TV. Maybe one day I’ll stop selling it short.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

20. Coneheads

adam sandler movies : coneheads

Coneheads doesn’t exactly help the case for movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches, but it doesn’t hurt it much either. Granted, this may be one of the more egregious cases of your mileage may vary, but what do you expect from a movie about aliens with coneheads?

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

21. Anger Management

adam sandler jack nicholson movie : Anger Management

This movie almost deserves to be last on the list for providing the basis for Charlie Sheen’s execrable TV adaptation, but we’ll overlook that for now. Putting Jack Nicholson and Sandler together sounds like a good idea on paper, but the result is too hit-or-miss to call it a success.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

22. Spanglish

adam sandler movie : Spanglish

This is the most disappointing of Sandler’s dramatic work. The acting by Sandler, Paz Vega, and Tea Leoni is solid, but James L. Brooks’ script is uneven. In its strongest moments, Spanglish hits on some emotional truths, but there aren’t enough of them to recommend it.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix, available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

23. Billy Madison

adam sandler movie: Billy madison

This may be blasphemous to many Sandler fans, but Billy Madison isn’t that funny. The main problem is that Sandler’s screaming-in-place-of-jokes thing is cranked way up. The movie still gets laughs out of Billy and his classmates, but if want angry Sandler, why not watch Happy Gilmore instead?

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

24. Bulletproof

adam sandler movies : bulletproof

Damon Wayans and Sandler make for a for an interesting comic duo in this disposable action comedy. Studio interference led to a mangled and quickly dismissed final product, but it’s hard to imagine that Bulletproof ever would’ve been significantly better. It’s a 48 Hours ripoff all the way and you’ll be better off putting that one on instead.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

25. The Week Of

adam sandler movies - The Week Of

Starring Adam Sandler as father of the bride, Kenny, and co-starring Chris Rock as father of the groom, Kirby, The Week Of chronicles the days leading up to the impending nuptials of their characters’ children and the myriad of problems that arise as their families come together for the ceremony. It isn’t a good movie by any conventional standards, but it manages to clear the very low bar Sandler has set for himself. Chris Osterndorf

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

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Adam Sandler movies: Skippable

26. Just Go With It

adam sandler rom com : Just go with it

Remember that time Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston co-starred in a romantic comedy? It’s a movie about a guy trying to cover a lie with more lies, and of course, the entire movie could’ve been avoided if he had told the truth up front. But when a Hawaiian vacation is on the line, I guess any excuse will do.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

27. The Longest Yard

adam sandler : The longest yard

Sandler as a professional football player is an amusing idea, and it’s made even more entertaining in the scenes Sandler shares with real players. As remakes go, it’s probably better than most people anticipated, but still not particularly good. As a Sandler vehicle, it’s much better than the movies that surround it on his filmography.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

28. Shakes the Clown

adam sandler movies : Shakes the Clown

Bobcat Goldthwait makes movies that are memorable, for better and worse. Shakes the Clown falls into the former category, but it does feature some of Sandler’s earliest screen work as Dink the Clown. This one is more of a curio than an outright bad movie, and that makes it worth your time.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

29. Bedtime Stories

adam sandler movies : Bedtime stories

This fantastical romp goes heavy on the romp and too light on the fantastic, meaning it grows tedious despite the imaginative scenarios it presents. Little ones will get a kick out of the movie’s tricks, like raining gumballs and wild chariot races, but older audiences will be looking to catch some z’s.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

30. Pixels

adam sandler movies : Pixels

A movie featuring people fighting video game characters should be a lot more fun than this, but Pixels is a standard issue late-era Sandler comedy. As with all video games, it’s much more fun to play than watch.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

31. Jack and Jill

bad adam sandler movies : Jack and Jill

Are two Adam Sandlers better than one? Jack and Jill doesn’t make a compelling case. Sandler plays the titular siblings, but the real reason to watch Jack and Jill (if one exists) is Al Pacino, who plays himself and looks like he’s having the time of his life.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

32. Eight Crazy Nights

adam sandler christmas movie : 8 Crazy nights

It’s nice that Sandler wanted to make a holiday movie, but it’s not so nice that this is what he made. Despite being his first animated film, Sandler brings all of his hallmarks with him. If you thought his comedic stylings were lazy in live action, what till you see them in cartoon form.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

33. Sandy Wexler

adam sandler netflix original movie : Sandy Wexler

This Netflix original is nothing more than an homage to Sandler’s real-life manager, so it’s kind of interesting from that angle. It has heart, which automatically puts it above the other Sandler-Netflix offerings.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

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34. Click

adam sandler movies : Click

The thing that irritates me the most about Click is how emotionally phony the movie feels. The idea of a man with a universal remote control (that controls the universe!) is fertile terrain, but Click razes it and plants obvious, first-draft jokes instead of something more fruitful.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

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Adam Sandler movies: hard pass

35. Little Nicky

adam sandler movies : Little Nicky

This was the first Sandler joint that I didn’t care for when I was growing up. I really, really hated it. The voice Sandler does for Nicky is so awful that I’ve blocked it from my mind, and I’m mad at this list for making me think about it. This story about the Devil’s third son trying to wrangle his brothers can go straight to hell.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

36. The Cobbler

adam sandler movies : The cobbler

The Cobbler is a disaster of such epic proportions that it could only come from people with the best intentions. Academy Award winner Tom McCarthy cooked up a film about a cobbler (played by Sandler) who makes magical shoes. It sounds like a movie pitch courtesy of The Onion, but lucky for us, it’s a real thing.  

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

37. Men, Women, and Children

adam sandler movies : Men women and children

This misfire from Jason Reitman features Sandler and Jennifer Garner toplining a cautionary tale about the perils of the internet. It plays like an educational video featuring hopeless uncool olds trying to relate to hip youths. There’s more, as everything is connected in a Crash kind of way that renders everything hamfisted.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

38. Going Overboard

adam sandler movies : Going Overboard

Adam Sandler made his big-screen debut in this 1989 dud about a struggling standup (Sanders) who gets his (relatively) big break after a comedian drowns on a cruise ship. The film got a second life in 1996, when it was re-released to bank on Sandler’s Saturday Night Live and Billy Madison success, but it wasn’t any better the second time around.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

39. That’s My Boy

adam sandler movies : That's my boy

There’s a version of That’s My Boy that, in an alternate universe, is pretty funny. Sandler playing a dirtbag dad to Andy Samberg’s straight-laced son has a lot of comedic potential. But, as is often the case with Sandler comedies, it aims for the lowest-common-denominator with its humor. A few jokes pop here and there, but there’s a reason this is one of the lowest grossing films on Sandler’s IMDb profile.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

40. The Do-Over

adam sandler movies : The do-over

For anyone who has ever dreamed of faking their death or abandoning their responsibilities to start anew, The Do-Over is for you. Sandler and David Spade play guys who decide to abandon their current lives, only to assume the identities of criminals. Yikes! They shoot and joke their way through the haphazard script, and before you know it two hours have passed and you’ll be wishing you were someone else.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

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41. The Ridiculous 6

Adam Sandler in The Ridiculous 6

More of an afterthought than a movie, the most notable thing about The Ridiculous 6 is that it opened at the same time as The Hateful Eight. A group of six diverse people get together to spew their venom, but this movie ain’t written by Quentin Tarantino, and it’s as offensive as you would expect.

How to watch online: Streaming on Netflix

42-43. Grown Ups 1 & 2

adam sandler movies : Grown ups

This is the nadir of Sandler filming vacations with his friends and passing it off as movies. The second film features a moose peeing on somebody in a gag someone thought was worth highlighting in a trailer. The Grown Ups movies are so vile and unfunny that if you decide to watch them, you deserve what you get.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

44. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

adam sandler movies : I now pronounce you Chuck and larry

For all of the bad movies Adam Sandler has made, and there are so many bad movies, the nadir is this hateful, moronic, and despicable act against comedy and cinema. And that’s without even getting into the homophobia. Sandler and Kevin James play firefighters of the manliest order, but they have to pretend to be gay in order to pull off an insurance scam. Everything about this movie is awful from conception to execution. Send this one back to hell with Little Nicky.

How to watch online: Available to rent via iTunes and Google Play

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*First Published: Nov 9, 2017, 6:00 am