Seemingly, with just one role, actor Adam Sandler has gone from cultural ‘joke’ to one of the finest performers of modern cinema, with Uncut Gems from the Safdie brothers helping to elevate his career to fabulous new heights. However, keen cinephiles will recognise that Sandler has been capable of such performances throughout his whole career, from the comedic proficiency in such roles as Happy Gilmore to the dramatic perfection of Punch-Drunk Love by Paul Thomas Anderson.
Joining Sandler as a modern cultural phenomenon, director Paul Thomas Anderson has become known as one of the finest filmmakers of the 21st century, instilling his distinct style into each and every one of his potent modern classics. Introducing audiences to several great contemporary dramas including Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and The Master, Anderson has built a truly impressive filmography that sets him apart from many other directors in the industry.
Having slowly worked his way up the film industry through frequent collaboration with the likes of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, Anderson is known for having coaxed out some of the greatest performances of the 21st century. Showing off his bold creative vision, these same special performances can be witnessed in his recent Oscar-nominated coming-of-age tale Licorice Pizza, starring Alana Haim, Bradley Cooper, Tom Waits, Sean Penn and son of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Cooper.
For all these iconic performances, including Joaquin Phoenix in The Master and Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, it is Adam Sandler’s character in Punch-Drunk Love that is often considered a favourite of contemporary audiences. Having been a massive fan of the comedian by the time the casting for the film came around, for Paul Thomas Anderson, getting Sandler on-board was a matter of priority.
“I particularly love Big Daddy, more so than Billy Madison,” Anderson started during a conversation on the Bill Simmons’ podcast, adding: “I liked Billy Madison, but by the time I got to Happy Gilmore I was like, ‘Oh, my god’”. Becoming an icon of American comedy in the 1990s, Sandler rose to fame with his own brand of puerile humour, making a name for himself alongside such stars as Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz and Allen Covert.
A considerable fan of such pertinent ‘90s comedy, Anderson explains: “I think I graduated to obsession level with Big Daddy. It was a little bit more polished, it was able to be sincere and [mix in] the crazy f**king dirty shit that Sandler likes to do and got the mix really right”.
Recognised as the most critically acclaimed of Sandlers commercially popular comedies, Happy Gilmore followed a rejected hockey player (Sandler) who puts his skills to golf in order to try and save his grandmother’s house. Featuring the likes of Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen, Carl Weathers, Allen Covert and Richard Kiel, Happy Gilmore remains a popular favourite as well as an obsession of Paul Thomas Anderson’s.