Adam Sandler has made a bunch of bad movies lately (see: Sandy Wexler). So he’s probably as surprised as anyone to find himself in the Oscar conversation at Cannes Film Festival.
When the actor’s latest movie, Noah Baumbach’s tender family comedy The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), premiered Sunday night in France, it was met with rapturous reviews and a four-minute standing ovation.
“Who times those things anyway?” Adam Sandler joked later to USA TODAY. “Why not just say five?”
In the film, Dustin Hoffman plays artistic patriarch Harold Meyerowitz, whose estranged children Matthew (Ben Stiller), Danny (Sandler) and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) reconnect after he lands in the hospital for an untreated injury and slips into a coma. The prospect of losing their dad brings up complicated feelings for half-brothers Matthew and Danny, who sought Harold’s approval all their lives but always felt inadequate.
The project was personal for Sandler, whose own father died of cancer in 2003.
To play Danny, a divorced stay-at-home dad whose daughter (Grace Van Patten) is just off to college, “you use whatever’s from your own life,” Sandler said. “We’ve all been through the hospital with one of our parents and there’s a big connection there.”
Meyerowitz has 89% thumbs up on Rotten Tomatoes, with praise being particularly effusive for Sandler’s performance.
“A standout among other standouts,” Deadline’s Pete Hammond wrote of Sandler. “A sentence I thought I might never write: Is Adam Sandler a contender for best actor in Cannes?”
“With no shtick to fall back on, Sandler is forced to act, and it’s a glorious thing to watch,” says Variety’s Pete Debruge. “Sandler is terrific,” Time’s Stephanie Zacharek confirms.
The funnyman appreciates the support, but doesn’t intend to dive headfirst into more dramatic roles, as he’s stagnantly done in 2007’s Reign Over Me and 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love.
“If Noah has an idea, I’m in,” Sandler says. “I love making the movies I get to make,” most recently a string of critically panned comedies for Netflix, part of a now-eight-movie deal. Meyerowitz will premiere on the streaming service later this year.
Working with Netflix, “they’ve been very supportive; involved, but ultimately believe in what I’m believing in,” Sandler says. “I’m happy that so many people are going to get to see (Meyerowitz). I’m glad they’ll get to see it as much as they want on Netflix.”