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Ranking Every Adam Sandler Netflix Original Worst To Best

Netflix has been the official home of Adam Sandler since 2014, when his company Happy Madison Productions signed a lucrative contract with the streamer that was renewed in 2020. The partnership has paid off nicely, resulting in some of the Sandman's most widely watched films (via Variety) in recent years. But how do they stack up against his best work?

Since the beginning of his career, Sandler has frustrated critics and delighted audiences with his singular brand of humor. In early films like "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "The Waterboy," and "The Wedding Singer," he perfected his onscreen persona, playing screaming man-children stuck in a perpetual state of arrested development. These films are defined by surrealistic sight gags, extreme pratfalls, and wacky supporting characters played by some of the comedian's closest friends (including Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, and David Spade). There's also a healthy amount of pathos thrown in, as the Sandler character is usually dragged kicking and screaming into maturity. Although these have been big audience hits, they weren't exactly critical darlings.

Yet Sandler has often surprised critics by adapting that persona for dramatic performances, beginning with Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch-Drunk Love." In films like "Funny People," "The Meyerowitz Stories," and "Uncut Gems," the Sandman has shown his range as a performer, leading to critical reevaluation of those same comedies that were initially panned upon their release.

As is always the case with Sandler, his Netflix output oscillates between absurdist comedies and touching dramas. Let's take a look at every Adam Sandler Netflix original, ranked worst to best.

8. The Ridiculous 6

Adam Sandler's Netflix tenure got off to an inauspicious start with 2015's "The Ridiculous 6," the worst reviewed film of his career. Taking its inspiration from "The Magnificent Seven," this comedic Western casts Sandler as Tommy "White Knife" Dunson Stockburn, a white man raised by Native Americans. Much to his surprise, Tommy learns he has five outlaw half-brothers: saloon pianist Chico Stockburn (Terry Crews), mountain man Herm Stockburn (Jorge Garcia), happy-go-luck roughneck Pete "Lil Pete" Stockburn (Taylor Lautner), Mexican burro rider Ramon Lopez Stockburn (Rob Schneider), and former bodyguard to Abraham Lincoln Danny Stockburn (Luke Wilson). Together, this merry band of misfits set out to save their father, Frank (Nick Nolte), a dying bank robber who's been kidnapped by bandits looking for $50,000 in loot he's set aside for Tommy's tribe.

The production was beset with controversy, as about a dozen Native American actors walked off the set (via The Guardian) in protest of its depiction of Apache culture. Their complaints ranged from characters named Beaver's Breath and No Bra to a scene involving a Native American woman smoking a peace pipe while squatting and urinating, as well as the improper positioning of feathers on a teepee.

Perhaps its most positive review came from Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune, who said it was "a long, long way from the worst Sandler movie ever made." But that was about as kind as it got for the film, which Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com called "almost bafflingly bad," particularly for its "broad racism and misogyny."

7. The Do-Over

The second Adam Sandler Netflix original was only marginally better received than the first: whereas "The Ridiculous 6" clocked in with an abysmal 0% Rotten Tomatoes score, 2016's "The Do-Over" earned a 9% rating from the critical aggregate. So things were already on the upswing for the Sandman's output at the streaming service.

The film reunites Sandler with his old "Saturday Night Live" buddy David Spade, who plays Charlie, a hapless bank manager living in Florida with his wife, Nikki (Natasha Leggero), and stepkids. While his wife is cheating on him with her ex-husband, Ted-O (Sean Astin), Charlie reunites with his high school friend, Max (Sandler), an FBI agent who invites him to party on his rented yacht. Max blows up the vessel and fakes their deaths, allowing them to assume new identities, but their chance for a do-over is met with comedic complications.

Though Christian Holub of Entertainment Weekly thought the "plot threads can be a little hard to follow," he found that "Sandler and Spade's partnership gives the whole enterprise enough emotional grounding to make up for it." The vast majority of critics weren't as forgiving. David Ehrlich of Indiewire wrote, "'The Do-Over' is atrocious, but it's atrocious in different ways than any of Adam Sandler's previous comedies." He added, "For years, we've been asking Adam Sandler to try harder. We've been making a huge mistake."

6. The Week Of

Although the majority of its reviews were largely negative, many critics lauded 2018's "The Week Of" as being more personal than some of Adam Sandler's other Netflix offerings. Yet as Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com lamented, "the heartfelt story of a father letting go of his daughter and Sandler's penchant for extreme humor don't really mesh."

Sandler plays Kenny Lustig, a working class Long Islander struggling to pay for his daughter's wedding. Kenny cuts every corner possible to avoid asking the wealthy father of the groom, Kirby Cortice (Chris Rock), for help, booking the venue at a cheap hotel and hiring an adolescent DJ. Things get out of hand when Kirby shows up and immediately starts feuding with Kenny over everything. But before long the two dads are bonding over the shared loss of their kids.

Jesse Hassenger of The AV Club credited longtime Sandler friend and first-time director Robert Smigel, who voices Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and cowrote Sandler's "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," with elevating the film above the standard Sandler fare. He wrote, "For the first time since 'Zohan,' which rooted its silliness in a real understanding of New York life, a Happy Madison production has moments that might be called sharply observed." Yet his opinion was in the minority. Writing for The New York Times, Glenn Kenny said, "While the movie is ultimately more of the same old same old, it is at least not as appallingly sexist and culturally insensitive as 'The Ridiculous Six.'"

5. Sandy Wexler

"Sandy Wexler" provides Adam Sandler with the opportunity to indulge in one of his favorite cinematic past times: transforming into a wacky character akin to the kinds he used to play on "Saturday Night Live." While those "SNL" performances were only sketch length, this 2017 film is stretched out to 131 minutes, testing the patience of many critics who aren't always on the Sandman's wavelength.

Wexler (Sandler) is a middling talent agent in 1990s Los Angeles, characterized by his nasally voice and giant spectacles. He's devoted to his clients, all of whom are hanging on the fringes of the industry, from ventriloquists to wrestlers to wannabe movie stars. Sandy meets his newest find, the talented singer Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), while she's performing at Six Flags, and he instantly signs her. But Sandy's devotion to his work is put to the test when he falls in love with Courtney.

Although Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com thought Sandler's third Netflix title was better than "The Ridiculous 6" or "The Do-Over," that was "only indicative of how unbearably awful the first two attempts were." Still, he admitted that the film had its positive aspects, including Sandler's performance, which he likened to his work in "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Funny People." Tallerico added, "There's a halfway decent and interesting 90-minute dramedy buried in this 131-minute film." Jesse Hassenger of The AV Club was more positive, writing, "This is all still Sandler schtick, replete with endless running gags, but it's also surprisingly endearing and often quite funny."

4. Murder Mystery

"Murder Mystery" was among the most popular Netflix originals ever made, bringing in 83 million viewers and inspiring an upcoming sequel. The 2019 film was one of Adam Sandler's best reviewed outings on the streamer, and one of the best of his "vacation movies" (i.e. movies the Sandman made as an excuse to visit an exotic locale with his friends and make a few million while there).

Sandler plays Nick Spitz, a New York City police officer taking a long-delayed European vacation with his wife, hairdresser Audrey (Jennifer Aniston). While on the plane they meet dashing aristocrat Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), who invites them to party on the luxury yacht owned by his wealthy uncle, Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp). Quince, who is engaged to Charles' ex-fiancee, Suzi Nakamura (Shioli Kutsuna), is found murdered by his own dagger, and Nick and Audrey are framed for the crime.

Although he had issues with Sandler's character, which he found to be "a graceless, tactless, unkind boor of a person," Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair called the film "a cheery enough diversion." Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly enjoyed the performances by Sandler and Aniston, who "relax into their roles as if their only stake in 'Mystery' is to enjoy the free trip to Italy and have fun running down cobblestones." Amy Nicholson of Variety was less enthused, saying, "As Sandler's career has congealed, so have his characters," but praising Aniston's performance as "the real deal."

3. Hubie Halloween

Critically speaking, Adam Sandler's Netflix output has only gotten better with each subsequent release. One of his latest, 2020's "Hubie Halloween," got decent reviews relative to how the Sandman's movies are usually received.

Hubie Dubois is one of Sandler's signature adult man-children, in line with those he played in "Billy Madison" and "The Waterboy." He's a sweet-natured simpleton who's constantly ridiculed by his neighbors and the local sheriff, Sgt. Steve Downey (Kevin James). As the official Halloween Helper of Salem, Massachusetts, he keeps an eye out for teenagers attempting pranks, only to find himself the butt of many cruel jokes. But things get really spooky on October 31st, as escaped lunatic Richie Hartman (Rob Schneider) and possible werewolf Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi) wreak havoc on the town. Hubie comes to the rescue, and along the way he finds romance with Sgt. Downey's ex-wife, Violet Valentine (played by his "Happy Gilmore" costar Julie Bowen).

Released at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, "Hubie Halloween" proved to be the perfect October surprise for viewers stuck in their living rooms (it held the top spot on Netflix for 10 days straight). Critics were also generally surprised as well. "Those choosing to stay at home instead of trick-or-treating during this year of unfunny horrors could do much worse than this," said John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter. Bilge Ebiri of Vulture also gave it a positive review, writing, "None of this is particularly original, but nobody said you had to be original to make people laugh."

2. Hustle

Whether it's attending Lakers games with his "Anger Management" costar Jack Nicholson or gaining the admiration of Shaquille O'Neal for his prowess with the ball, Adam Sandler has long had an affinity for basketball; he even played a gambling addict who bets it all on a crucial NBA match in "Uncut Gems." His love of the game is evident in every frame of 2022's "Hustle," one of his best-reviewed Netflix originals.

Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, a world-weary talent scout for the Philadelphia 76ers whose search for the perfect basketball player has taken a toll on his personal life. While in Spain, he meets Bo Cruz (played by real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangomez), whose troubled past has kept him from playing professionally. Impressed with his streetballing skills, Stanley brings Bo to the U.S., and the two men find redemption through their shared love of the game. In the process, Stanley reconnects with his wife, Teresa (Queen Latifah), and daughter, Alex (Jordan Hull).

Critics praised the film's authenticity (the supporting cast is filled with several former and current NBA players and coaches) as well as Sandler's work. Empire's Amon Warmann wrote that the actor, who's been accused of phoning in performances many times, "switches between levity and more emotionally weighty material with ease." Jake Coyle of the Associated Press called the film "one of the most textured and affectionate films about basketball that's come along in a long time," while Peter Travers of ABC said, "Sandler again shows what he can do when fully committed to a role."

1. The Meyerowitz Stories

Whether it's in his signature outrageous comedies or more auteur-driven dramas, Adam Sandler has cornered the market on playing adult men stuck in a state of arrested development. Much like Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch-Drunk Love," Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories" (2017) burrows beneath Sandler's onscreen persona to examine the deep emotional damage at its core, providing him with one of his very best roles, and perhaps his best Netflix original (albeit one not produced by Happy Madison).

He plays Danny Meyerowitz, a talented musician stuck under the shadow of his domineering father, sculptor Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman). Danny moves in with dad and his newest wife, alcoholic hippy Maureen (Emma Thompson), after his marriage breaks up and his daughter, Eliza (Grace Van Patten), starts her first year at NYU film school. A retrospective of Harold's work reunites Danny with his siblings, financial planner Matthew (Ben Stiller) and Xerox employee Jean (Elizabeth Marvel). But when their father suffers a health scare, the emotionally estranged children are suddenly confronted with the various ways Harold has stunted their growth.

"The Meyerowitz Stories" earned raves from critics, particularly for its rich ensemble. "Sandler finds the perfect line between tragedy and comedy for Danny," praised Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com. "He still does his hollering angry man-child shtick, but here it stems organically from the character and is never used as a comedic crutch." Glenn Kenny of The New York Times singled him out in his review, saying of the many great performances, "it is Mr. Sandler who excels, both riotously and poignantly."