Comedian Adam Sandler and Phantom Thread auteur Paul Thomas Anderson have reunited to work on Sandler’s new comedy special for Netflix. A few years ago when Netflix began pivoting from delivering other people’s content to producing their own, one of the first big stars they signed to a deal was Adam Sandler. Since then, Sandler has churned out several surprisingly successful comedy movies for the streaming service. This month Sandler serves up his latest movie The Week Of, co-starring his old pal Chris Rock.
Of course, before he became a movie actor, Sandler cut his comedic teeth as a stand-up and later a cast member on SNL. Now Sandler plans a return to his stand-up roots with a new comedy special for, who else, Netflix. The streaming service in recent months has debuted multiple comedy specials from talents like Sandler who appeal to a little older demographic, including Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Judd Apatow, and even Jerry Seinfeld. Netflix will even bring back the old school Comic Relief-style all-star special with Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity.
Giving his own new comedy special a little more juice with folks who might not otherwise flock to witness Adam Sandler telling jokes, the comedian reportedly has recruited Oscar-nominated auteur Paul Thomas Anderson. Sandler himself broke the news on Twitter that he would be performing at the El Rey Theater in L.A. on August 10th and that the performance would be filmed for his special.
The news of Paul Thomas Anderson’s involvement was broken later, again on Twitter, by Nerdist scribe Michele Buchman. Buchman later noted that only one part of Sandler’s special, which will film all over the country, is likely being helmed by Anderson.
PTA is directing the Adam Sandler comedy special they are filming at the El Rey tonight so HI YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION.— Michelle Buchman (@michelledeidre) April 11, 2018
Cinephile favorite Anderson’s somewhat puzzling relationship with Sandler goes back to 2002 when he directed the comedian in Punch-Drunk Love. Many regard Sandler’s performance in that film as his best ever – which maybe isn’t saying much, when you consider the low-brow nature of most of the rest of his movie output. What Anderson seemed to hit on in Punch-Drunk Love was a certain current of lunatic anger lurking underneath Sandler’s frankly juvenile humor. Seldom outside of that film has Sandler tried tapping into the same rage, though he did hit some of those notes again in last year’s The Meyerowitz Stories, directed by Noah Baumbach.
What exactly will Anderson bring to the table as director of Sandler’s special? Most likely, he was just there to capture Sandler’s performance in a workmanlike way. So don’t look for any signature PTA cinematic wizardry. At the very least, Anderson’s involvement adds a layer of interest for viewers who are fans of the director and not so much the comedian. Plus, Anderson and Sandler obviously like working together, and probably just thought it would be cool to hook up for another project.
Netflix meanwhile continues to get their money’s worth with Sandler, also signing him up for the romantic-comedy Murder Mystery, which reteams with him Jennifer Aniston. And Sandler continues pursuing intriguing non-Netflix roles as well, signing on for the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems. Perhaps the always-interesting Safdie Brothers can bring Sandler back to that special place he reached when PTA directed him in Punch-Drunk Love.
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