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Adam Sandler stars as Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love (Peter Sorel)
Adam Sandler stars as Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love (Peter Sorel)

The Adam Sandler maturity index: Which man-child do moviegoers enjoy most? Add to ...

You never know which Adam Sandler man-child you’re going to get. A look back at his extensive filmography shows a comic-actor who is ostensibly always playing himself, but to varying degrees of restraint, maturity or, in the case of rom-coms, eligibility. Which Sandler do moviegoers enjoy most? Using aggregate scores from the Metacritic website, there is a distinct correlation between the emotional maturity of his character and the level of popular acclaim for a film. Here are a selection of emotional peaks, and plenty of critical valleys, from a wide-ranging career.

Billy Madison (1995)

Man-child (complete with man-child voice) repeats 12 grades of schooling to inherit his father’s hotel empire. His love interest is his sexy third-grade teacher.

Maturity meter: 1 (out of 10)

Metacritic rating: 16 (out of 100)

Happy Gilmore (1996)

A boorish hockey player takes his goon act to the pro golf circuit with a devastating slapshot-cum-tee-shot. He's ultimately a kind-hearted softie who needs the money to save his grandma's house.

Maturity meter: 4

Metacritic rating: 31

The Wedding Singer (1998)

There’s a plot involving a jilted wedding singer who falls in loved with an engaged waitress, but this movie is remembered as the moment Sandler first played lovable as a romantic lead (and never as engaging as opposite Drew Barrymore)

Maturity meter: 7

Metacritic rating: 59

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson coaxes Sandler to his most acclaimed performance to date, in a bizarre story about a lonely, anger-prone man. It’s worth noting this is the rare Sandler movie since 1999 not produced by his own film company.

Maturity meter: 10

Metacritic rating: 78

50 First Dates (2004)

Sandler steps into the rom-com waters for the first time since The Wedding Singer, and again with Barrymore. A silly story about her character having short-term memory loss is fun, but their chemistry is more ho-hum the second time around.

Maturity meter: 6

Metacritic rating: 48

Spanglish (2004)

Sandler tried on the father-figure role in the lukewarm Big Daddy (1999). He perfects the character here as a successful chef who welcomes a Spanish-speaking housekeeper into his family (though no one is buying Sandler as a cook)

Maturity meter: 6

Metacritic rating: 48

Funny People (2009)

What if Adam Sandler made a self-aware movie about Adam Sandler? Another savvy director, this time Judd Apatow, pushes him in the meta-role of a successful, aging comedian who becomes sick with leukemia.

Maturity meter: 8

Metacritic rating: 60

Grown Ups (2010)

From the heights of Funny People, straight to this. Unsurprisingly, Sandler and his posse of comic oldsters act not-so-grown-up in this comedy that ushered in his current era of low-brow fare.

Maturity meter: 3

Metacritic rating: 30

Jack and Jill (2011)

A modern-day low for Sandler: He plays both the twin-brother and twin-sister in this movie. Al Pacino, incredibly, agreed to play himself.

Maturity meter: 2

Metacritic rating: 23

Men, Women & Children (TBA)

It’s been five years since Sandler‘s last attempt at something more high-minded. Will this Jason Reitman-helmed film, about the sexual lives of its characters, be the answer?
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