After Hubie Halloween, Adam Sandler’s next Happy Madison/Netflix production is another dramatic about-face. This time, he’s working with Chernobyl director Johan Renck on a sci-fi drama based on the novel The Spaceman of Bohemia.
He’ll play an astronaut exploring the far reaches of the galaxy, where he collects samples of a strange dust that has a connection to an ancient alien presence. It sounds not unlike Ad Astra, the serious sci-fi flick starring Brad Pitt.
“As we prepare for our voyage to Chopra, I couldn’t be more pleased to have found the perfect partner in Adam,” Renck said. “And now, with the support of the brilliant Netflix family, I am profoundly excited to set off on our impossible journey.”
While we can’t know for sure whether Sandler will spend most of the film screaming at the alien in a funny voice, it’s doubtful that’s the direction Renck will go. He’s one of the most sought-after directors for the small screen, thanks to the success of Chernobyl, and this follow-up has a lot of pressure to deliver. Sandler, meanwhile, continues to develop the more serious side of his acting portfolio after Uncut Gems.
Adam Sandler inked a massive–and, presumably, lucrative–deal with Netflix in 2015 to make movies for the streaming platform. The trades reported that he got $275 million for four pictures; he’s since made five more. Netflix claims that the 2019 comedy Murder Mystery with Jennifer Aniston was their most popular movie of the year. Critics hated it, but it wasn’t made for them. It was made to watch while you fold laundry or wait for a plane.
This year, Hubie Halloween with frequent collaborator Kevin James arrived right in time for people to start obsessively streaming Halloween content. Was it good? Nah, not really. But the thing about Adam Sandler comedies is that they don’t have to be good, just good enough. He absolutely nailed the formula for his films 25 years ago, so why change now?
Plenty of people–especially snarky, jaded Millennials like me–side-eyed Netflix’s decision to sign Adam Sandler for such a massive deal with a 50-year-old comedian who has been playing a version of the same overgrown manchild his entire life. But Netflix knows what we want to watch, often far better than we know ourselves.
Sandler gives audiences the chance to essentially watch the same movie for the first time, over and over again. He’s a very smart man underneath his shtick, and Sandler no-doubt saw the opportunity to go where the money is as audiences shift to streaming. He couldn’t have known that a pandemic would shutter movie theaters for an entire year–that’s just a bonus.
Every year at the major awards shows, comedies might as well not exist. Prestigious film accolades are for dramas only, thankyouverymuch. It’s a shame that comedic talents like Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and Jim Carrey aren’t noticed for their acting skills until they take on a dramatic role.
To be fair, Stranger Than Fiction is my favorite Will Ferrell movie. And Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show are the only Jim Carrey films I really like. Perhaps I’m part of the problem, too. But every time a comedic actor takes on a high-profile role in a drama, suddenly everyone loses their mind as if just now realizing that the person has talent.
Adam Sandler received serious Oscar buzz last year for his role in Uncut Gems, but a nomination failed to materialize. Maybe it was just too difficult for Academy voters to stop thinking of him as Billy Madison. Will they have the same problem with The Spaceman of Bohemia?