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Adam Sandler: A Political Reading

by Eric Kohn
June 4, 2008 7:55 AM
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zohan.jpg
Adam Sandler is one of those mainstream performers whose career is usually perceived as a single body, rather a series of different projects that wildly vary in terms of quality and content. I've always been perplexed and fascinated by his roles, whether or not they're actually any good, simply because he remains one of the more distinctive American comedians still pumping out work on a regular basis, and has been for well over a decade. I decided to take a radical approach to evaluating Sandler's performances on the eve of You Don't Mess with the Zohan's theatrical release, trying to figure out if it's possible to glean certain conservative messages from his movies.

Bear with me here. Or don't.

Sandler's a Republican. That's fine; I don't know him and I can't take issue with his opinions since I'm not directly acquainted with the details of them. However, I think the prospect of reevaluating supposedly superficial entertainment for its underlying conceits has a certain value whether or not those conceits are actually there at all. Is there a relationship between Sandler's politics and his films? Maybe, maybe not. But I think there's merit to looking for it, if only because it provides a reminder that even the most transparent aspects of popular culture can become vessels of social consequence.

As for Zohan: It made me laugh, but it's definitely lesser Sandler. The character gets grating after awhile, and the plot gives way to vignettes a little too fast. He doesn't make you accept the absurdity of it all, as he does so brilliantly in Billy Madison (or Punch-Drunk Love, but that's more like PTA's show).

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