September 20, 2018

Adam Sandler Reunites With Jennifer Aniston in Netflix Comedy

Photo from Netflix/Scott Yamano.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston posed as husband and wife in the 2011 rom-com “Just Go With It,” and they’ll play a married couple again in “Murder Mystery,” the latest comedy under Sandler’s movie deal with Netflix.

Now shooting in the Genoa and Lake Como areas of Italy, the movie casts Sandler as a New York City cop who takes his wife on a trip to Europe that takes a turn when a man they meet on a plane (Luke Evans) invites them to a party on a yacht. When the billionaire owner (Terence Stamp) is found dead, they become the prime suspects in the murder.

For Sandler, the location is a definite perk. “I love Italy,” he said in a statement. “I was here with my wife a year ago and loved it so much I brought the kids with me this time and an entire movie crew… great food, great people, great family life.”

The movie, directed by Kyle Newacheck, will premiere on Netflix in 2019. Sandler, meanwhile, is scheduled to shoot the crime dramedy “Uncut Gems” with writer-directors Benny and Josh Safdie this fall.

Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow are raising money for Vegas victims

Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow are joining comedic forces for “Judd & Adam for Vegas,” a fundraiser to be held at Largo at the Coronet on Friday, Nov 3. Tickets are $250 and proceeds will go to the National Compassion Fund, benefiting victims of the recent Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

If this dynamic duo (with the promise of special guests) doesn’t do it for you, feast your eyes on this masterpiece of a poster – caricature at its finest, with an homage to Las Vegas  icons Siegfried and Roy.

Sandler and Apatow have collaborated on flicks like “Funny People,” but their bromance predates their celebrity. Before getting their big break, the two were roommates in the Valley, splitting a $900/month unit (Sandler slept on the couch). During an interview with 60 Minutes, the two revealed that they’d frequent the restaurant chain Red Lobster (which has the best cheese biscuits, period) once a month. “That was a big night out,” Sandler added. “That was like, ‘We’re fancy now,’” said Apatow.

Find out more about “Judd & Adam for Vegas” here.

Artistic Types’ Family Dynamics Spark ‘Meyerowitz Stories’

Actors Adam Sandler (2nd R) Emma Thompson (2nd L) and Dustin Hoffman pose with Director Noah Baumbach (L) before the UK premiere of "The Meyerowitz Stories" during the British Film Festival in London, Britain October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

In the opening scene of “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” oldest child Danny (Adam Sandler) is jockeying for a parking spot on the streets of New York City. Every time he almost finds a spot, it’s too small, or someone else takes it, and his frenzied turns of the steering wheel and screeching expletives at other drivers reach a life-or-death level of intensity.

By his side, his teenage daughter keeps her cool, encouraging him to just pay to park. But Danny won’t pay for parking. He’s convinced that when it comes to finding a place you fit into, the hard way is the right way, even if it kills you.

This is the opening salvo of Noah Baumbach’s latest film, with a stellar cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel as members of a complicated family, reuniting around the art show of the pater familias.

Although the film is billed as a comic saga, the laughs found in “Meyerowitz” come with a layer of sadness, where relatable family conflict meets the neglect and the hyper-scrutiny of artistic parents toward their children.

The source of all the family agita is the impressively bearded Hoffman as Harold, an artist who feels he’s not been given the credit he deserves for his life’s work. He lives with his fourth wife, the bohemian Maureen (Thompson, channeling a little of the wackiness of her “Harry Potter” character, Madame Trelawney), who is frenetic and always running away to artist retreats, escaping through alcohol or otherwise avoiding her problems.

Danny’s half-brother, Matthew (Stiller), is emotionally stingy, but his FaceTime calls with his child shed occasional light on the troubled state of his own marriage. The family hints that he could have pursued something more artistic, but the status-obsessed Matthew instead pursued a lucrative career that also benefits him: By removing any art from his professional life, he avoids comparisons to his father.

Danny, a failed musician, is simmering in sadness over the breakup of his marriage; his manic artist daughter, Eliza (Grace Van Patten), is off to college, where she makes student films, some with sexual themes, and sends them to her father, uncle and aunt. 

The Meyerowitzes are the walking wounded, literally and figuratively.

The third Meyerowitz sibling is Danny’s sister (and Matt’s half-sister), Jean, played by Marvel with an introverted, self-effacing, shrinking presence that signifies her trauma way before its specifics are revealed.

The Meyerowitzes are the walking wounded, literally and figuratively. Danny has a significant limp; Matthew has a regular cough that seems as if it might signify a late-breaking illness; and Harold’s recent physical injury catalyzes the siblings for more interaction than any of them wanted.

Despite the family name and the notable Jewish members of the cast, these stories have no specific Jewish content. But the rhythm of the neurotic conversations will feel familiar to many, regardless of their family origin.

Connected by fragile family ties and fragmented by family fractures and unfulfilled expectations, the Meyerowitzes don’t always get the concept of love and support right, but their family loyalty can help to recontextualize selected stories from the past and extend the narrative by crafting new ones.

Produced as a Netflix original, “The Meyerowitz Stories” is available on the streaming service beginning Oct. 13. It also will be in limited release in Los Angeles at The Landmark and the Laemmle Noho.

Adam Sandler updates ‘The Chanukah Song’ for first in since 2002

Adam Sandler has updated “The Chanukah Song” for the first time since 2002.

The Jewish actor and comedian debuted the new version on Saturday night as a surprise guest at Judd Apatow’s stand-up special at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The updated tune listed a new group of celebrities who are Jewish, including Adam Levine, Drake, Scarlett Johansson, Idina Menzel, Seth Rogen and the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In one comic line, Sandler sang that instead of Santa Claus, Jews can claim “two jolly fat guys: ice cream’s Ben and Jerry.” Another line went: “We might not have a cartoon with a reindeer that can talk/but we also don’t have polio thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk.”

Sandler also mentioned that Jared Fogle, the former face of Subway sandwiches who was convicted this summer on child pornography and sex charges, is Jewish.

Sandler first played the original version of “The Chanukah Song” on “Saturday Night Live” in 1994. Along with the 2002 version, he also updated the song in 1999.

‘The Cobbler’: Adam Sandler takes a walk in 1903 New York

Some three years ago, film director-writer-actor Thomas McCarthy was sitting at his desk, in his office located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, playing with ideas for a movie, when the proverb about walking in another man’s shoes popped into his head.

What would happen, he wondered, if by literally walking in another man’s shoes, you actually turned into that man’s double.

McCarthy (director of “The Visitor,” “The Station Agent”) had other commitments at the time, but over the next two years, the project, which eventually became “The Cobbler,” gradually “moved to the front burner.”

In an interview, McCarthy said he had been long fascinated by the area’s small shops, many established by Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s. In particular, he was taken by an old shoe-repair shop at the foot of his office building.

He discussed the idea with a Jewish colleague, Paul Sado, who protested jocularly about returning to the Lower East Side, which his forebears had struggled for generations to escape, but ultimately he agreed to co-write the script with McCarthy.

Building literally on the “walk in another’s shoes” metaphor, it seemed natural to make the central protagonist a cobbler plying his trade in an East Side store established by his great-grandfather.

McCarthy’s first choice for the leading man — a shoe repairer named Max Simkin — was Adam Sandler.

“I saw something in Adam that I loved,” McCarthy said of Sandler, who is better known for his comedic, frequently over-the-top performances. Sandler, in turn, noting his last name translates to “cobbler” in Yiddish, accepted immediately.

The film opens on the Lower East Side in 1903, with a group of men in Chasidic garb, recruited by McCarthy from New York’s Yiddish theater and including the Simkin ancestor, complaining about hard economic times.

Flash forward to the present, when a swaggering Black thug (Cliff Smith, aka Method Man), brings in a pair of shoes for resoling, telling Max he needs the job done by that evening — or else.

Max sets to work, but his electric stitching machine burns out, and in desperation Max digs out an ancient dust-covered stitching machine, powered by a foot pedal.

When asked where the contraption came from, Max tells the story (in Yiddish) of a shoeless, hungry vagrant who knocked on the great-grandfather’s door a long time ago. The ancestral Simkin gives the man lodging, feeds him and gives him a pair of shoes. The next morning, the vagrant has disappeared, leaving behind the pedal-powered stitching machine.

Max now returns to his work, affixes new soles and, while waiting for the customer, slips his feet into the newly repaired shoes.

In a split second, the mild-mannered Jewish cobbler is transformed into a swaggering Black thug. Once Max gets over his initial shock, he realizes the potential of his newfound magical powers, which work only if the “other’s” shoe size is exactly 10 1/2.

Next, Max sees a man stepping out of a fancy, chauffeur-driven car. In his guise as the thug, Max follows the man, forces him to take off his shoes and, as his victim’s persona, goes to the garage and picks up the car.

In the next caper, a handsome hunk of a man (Dan Stevens) walks into Max’s shop for a resoling job. As luck would have it, the shoes are the right size. Max puts them on, walks into a bar and is immediately picked up by a gorgeous blonde, who invites him to drop by her apartment later.

Max arrives to find the woman nude in the shower, only partially covered by a curtain, and ready for action. Max hastily tries to take off his pants but quickly realizes that he can only do so if his takes off his shoes — which will cause him to revert instantly to his original nebbish self — so he flees the apartment.

It’s one of the few outright guffaw scenes in the film, whose subplot pits greedy developers against the neighborhood’s old residents, and which boasts some impressive names.

Among them are Steve Buscemi as Max’s neighboring barber, Dustin Hoffman in a short stint as Max’s father, and Ellen Barkin as a nasty slumlord.

But it’s Sandler, frequently a favorite punching bag of movie critics, who carries the film. Here, he essays a serious, at times agonizing, role, and is praised by McCarthy as “a terrific collaborator and very hard worker, though he makes it look easy.”

Despite such efforts, the film has one notable weakness. Given the motif, one would expect the film to explore in more depth how one character can change his view of another by further understanding his or her background, problems and motives. Instead, the film settles for focusing on the shock effect of simple physical duplication.

“The Cobbler” opens March 13 at the Sundance Sunset Theater in West Hollywood and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.

The Hanukkah Song: A 2011 update

Bill Funt parodies Adam Sandler’s holiday gem, “The Hanukkah Song.”