By now, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this cultural contradiction known as Adam Sandler.
It’s obvious that Sandler, the actor, is capable of extraordinary range – not in the traditional, Meryl Streep sense, but a range of incredibly good (“Punch-Drunk Love”) to painfully bad (the horrendous “Jack and Jill”) and incredibly good again, as in “Uncut Gems,” a frenetic, compulsively watchable, exhausting and exhilarating collaboration with Josh and Benny Safdie.
What’s less discussed, perhaps, is what links these performances. In all these films, Sandler presents the predicament of a man-child, someone who has aged physically and perhaps intellectually but not emotionally. How does such a man get through life, and what about the people who have to live with him? Can he survive, and can they? In his best performances, Sandler offers a dark, bruising exploration of this state of being that actually tells us something.