Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Adam Sandler in Going Overboard

Because you demanded it, and by 'you' I mean 'I', here's the newest Inside the Skeleton's Closet, where I punish myself by watching the past mistakes of people who are now rich. 

I am not a big Adam Sandler person. I liked his movies well enough when I was younger but I don’t really think they hold up anymore. At the very least if Happy Gilmore or one of his earlier films still does it for you, I understand it, but I don’t know who could honestly say they’ve enjoyed anything he’s made in the last decade or so that isn’t either 14 or a member of his horrifying entourage of Hollywood sidekicks. No matter what he does his greatest sin will always be propping up the careers of Kevin James and Rob Schneider. There’s a lot to dislike about Adam Sandler. His movies are lazy and cobbled together and often have an unearned ‘slobs versus snobs’ undercurrent to them, which is hard to take seriously when they’re also massive commercials for Dunkin Donuts or Coca Cola made by a trillionaire. I’ve heard it said that a lot of his humour is at other people’s expense, that anyone who isn’t like Adam Sandler is treated as a joke. Elderly people, minorities, women, are all laughed at for not being Adam Sandler, and I can definitely see that. That’s My Boy opens with statutory rape being played as cool and for laughs and ends with a woman being punched in the face to rapturous applause, so that says it all.  Maybe it help if he could make jokes at his own expense as well, but his characters all always treated as the coolest guy in the room, with a hot wife and a great job, his ignorance is celebrated and the closest thing to humility ever shown is the inevitable nut shot or six. Fuck that guy I guess is what I’m saying.

Perhaps though there’s still some comedic potential in Sandler, if you strip away all the clout and the product placement and the pandering to ring a few more dollars out of the lowest common denominator. Maybe if you go back to the very beginning of his career, before Saturday Night Live even, you could see something good in this gurning buffoon. I mean, probably not, but I’m committed to this feature now. 1989’s Going Overboard is Adam Sandler’s first starring role in a film, his first role in a film full-stop in fact, and it even pre-dates his best-selling comedy albums. I had never heard of it before I started looking for old films for this blog, and as I’m writing this paragraph I still haven’t watched it. I’m going to take a break for a few hours, then come back and write about what I thought of it. Provided I survive. Please wait the requisite amount of time for me to watch an entire movie.



…...you know how you’ve never heard of Going Overboard before? There is a reason. Considering how I’ve already said I’m not a fan, I don’t know what I was getting myself into here. This is Adam Sandler honing his craft. This is him trying out jokes and crafting his persona, it’s like watching John Wayne Gacy go through Clown College. In the obvious absence of a screenwriter, Sandler and the other actors enact an improve class from the deepest circle of hell, the type of performance that even Tobias Funke would be able to “Yes and?” an improvement out of. Every scene has characters going on and on and on, leaving me begging for the relative improvement a nut shot would have brought.

Sandler plays an aspiring comedian Schecky Moskowitz, who is forced to work a menial job aboard a cruise ship on its way to Cancun. Schecky looks on jealously at the ship’s stand-up comic, mean-spirited loudmouth Dickie Diamond. An early scene has Schecky complaining about Dickie Diamond, who is surrounded by beautiful women who laugh at his every word (The movie apparently was filmed on a ship heading to the Miss Universe pageant and was filled with them, according to my extensive research of the film’s IMDB page.) Schecky complains about the guy making incest and fart jokes, which I’m taking to mean either Adam Sandler sold his soul to become successful or he carries a streak of deep self-loathing within himself. He deserved the latter but I’m leaning towards the former.

Much of the movie has our hero speaking to the audience, partly to riff but mostly because no one involved here has any idea how to move scenes along unless Sandler is telling is exactly what is happening, has happened and is going to happen next. When he’s not speaking directly to the camera like he’s on Saved by the Bell Sandler is practising or performing his stand-up routine, which consistently sends Going Overboard into straight-up unwatchable territory. He’s supposed to be a bad comedian, which means that an unfunny movie now has a character telling jokes that are deliberately unfunny, and then people unfunnily tell him he’s unfunny, and the whole thing starts to make me feel like I’m in Inception, because I’m trapped in layers within layers of horrible comedy and I want to be hit by a train.

With no plot to speak of besides Sandler failing as a comedian over and over, the movie desperately throws padding around to get up to feature length, a depressingly recurring feature on these look at actor’s early films. There’s a musical sequence (two if you count Sandler and his best friend randomly starting to sing for no reason.), vignettes of the Miss Universe contestants answering questions, multiple dream sequences and an extended scene where the movie just gets bored and leers at the models on deck for several minutes. It’s safe to say Adam Sandler established his modus operandi on treating women right off the bat, as they are all depicted either as idiotic objects fawning over the more successful characters or as men in drag. Amazingly the movie was actually directed by a woman, Valerie Breiman, which would be the most disappointing thing about this dreck if it didn’t involve an Oscar-nominated actor doing terrible schtick as a dictator.

Burt Young, best known for playing Paulie in the Rocky films, plays General Manuel Noriega, former dictator of Panama, a sentence I can’t believe I’m writing about an Adam Sandler boat comedy. He sends two soldiers to the boat to kill Ms Australia, after he saw her on the television saying that he was stinky, just to give you an impression of the humour in this film. While a powdery white line of a career trajectory accounts for his presence, the struggle to make it to the top is not only held by Sandler, as the movie also features small parts for Billy Bob Thornton and Billy Zane. Thornton plays a construction worker who tells Sandler that his terrible act is pissing him off, making him easily the best character in the movie. Billy Zane plays King Neptune. God of the Sea. Obviously no further comment is necessary.

Most bad films at least are fun to make fun of but a bad comedy just leaves you sitting stone-faced, questioning the life choices that have led you to watching bad movies on purpose. The knowledge that Adam Sandler actually has a bar lower than offensive, unfunny slogs like That’s My Boy and Jack and Jill is extremely disturbing to me. Who knows what other horrors this twisted monster could inflict upon the world before someone finally puts a bullet between his eyes. Or, you know, people just stop watching him or whatever. It’s almost depressing enough to make me want to retire the Inside the Skeleton’s Closet feature, ill as it makes me feel. However I will soldier on, war-hero like that I am. I’ll just require extensive quantities of Jack Daniels and Toilet Duck to make me forget Going Overboard.

Interesting Notes and Quotes
·         I wasn’t going to harp on how terrible the movie looks because it had a tiny budget of $200,000 but apparently the camera crew forgot to bring lenses aboard the crew ship so the director of photography had to use the wrong lenses for the entire shoot. So there’s also incompetence at play. Hurrah!
·         Feast your eyes on the glory of the dude from Titanic dressed as an Ocean God:

Leave a comment below on who you would like next week’s instalment of Inside the Skeleton’s Closet to be about. Of course, you don’t have to, just know that it will leave me emotionally devastated.


  1. For some unknown reason Epix Drive In Channel shows this film at least 4 times a week. I remember seeing it years ago on USA right after it had come out.