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A lament for Adam Sandler.

A lament for Adam Sandler. (photo)

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Out of all the people rolling in and out of “Saturday Night Live” in the ’90s, it wasn’t immediately obvious that Adam Sandler would be the break-out of the bunch. In an infamous 1995 profile of the show in New York, Sandler didn’t come off noticeably worse than the other cast members, but he was portrayed as lazy, just waiting for the writing meetings to be over so that he could get his drink on. Since then, though, he’s displayed nothing if not a Murdoch-ian business acumen for gambiting low stakes against high returns.

Critics of his SNL time — where, if nothing else, he gave the world Opera Man — would complain that he didn’t have much range, but that was nothing compared to the idiot’s delight streak (“Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore” and the rest), in which Sandler rode his success to unexpected heights.

Sandler’s comic persona is weirder and more spikily unlikeable than his frequently flat delivery would suggest. Punctuated by sudden bursts of uncontrollable anger, his regressive approach to adult life suggests not just childishness but something more sinister, a rage which conceals itself under puckishness. He beats the crap out of those who mess with the weak and rages against the machine, traits P.T. Anderson would pick up on and amplify in “Punch Drunk Love.”

Sandler seemed suddenly addicted to the idea that he, too, could go one for him and one for them: two years later he gave an excellent straight performance in “Spanglish” (though no one seemed to notice, being too busy hating the movie), went “full retard” for “Reign O’er Me” (ditto, though substitute “indifference” for “hate”) and then deconstructed his entire persona with “Funny People.”

06252010_spanglish.jpgNo one can blame the man, then, for having taken four leaps for the brass ring and failed financially every time. His brand has, otherwise, proven surprisingly durable: Fandango sent out a release today saying that advance sales for “Grown Ups” (aka, “Anything But What This Title Normally Means”) are twice those of “Knight & Day.” Evidently, a consistently childish persona — the career equivalent of playing Robin Williams’ “Jack” every time for 15 years straight — wears a little bit better than the cool patina.

But it’s regrettable — out of the five grown-ups here, Sandler has the most range and potential. No one expects greatness from Kevin James or thespianism from Chris Rock; as for Rob Schneider, he’s to be congratulated on still having a career. (The unmatchably snide David Spade will always have a place in my heart, though why anyone ever thought he could be a one-man comic star is beyond me.)

Sandler’s career is littered with what-ifs, like: what if it was him and not Jamie Foxx in “Collateral”? (Answer: Sandler might’ve actually had a hit dramatic role.) Instead, it’s 15 years later and it’s 1995 all over again. Forget “MacGruber”: “Grown Ups” is the real SNL movie of the year. So it goes.

[Photos: “Saturday Night Live,” NBC, 1975-present; “Spanglish,” Columbia, 2004]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.