Here’s the punchline from the venerable Cannes Film Festival: Adam Sandler is getting Oscar buzz.
“Wow,” wrote critic Steve Pond for The Wrap. “Adam Sandler might actually belong in Cannes.”
Here’s the set-up.
The Wedding Singer’s new film, “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” received a four-minute standing ovation after it premiered with a Cannes audience on Sunday.
Sandler stars in the movie about an estranged, dysfunctional New York family with Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Emma Thompson.
Sandler is the oldest son of a cranky and memory-challenged New York sculptor Harold Meyerowitz, played by Hoffman.
He and his siblings — Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel — have to deal with a host of anger and daddy issues as they try to help their father put together a retrospective show.
Director Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding” and “Mistress America”) told the Los Angeles Times he wanted Stiller and Sandler to play the two brothers.
“I’ve always really liked Adam, there is a very touching quality about him even in his wilder performances,” Baumbach said. “He and Ben have had a kind of friendship, but they never worked together in any major way (Stiller had a small part in ‘Happy Gilmore’) and it was exciting to think of them as siblings.”
The director called Sandler’s performance “very felt.”
“He was very inside it, and it was exciting to be there with him and watch him do it,” he told the Times. “He had access to real humor, but always within the reality of the character.”
Critics are picking their collective jaw off the ground after watching Sandler, aka Happy Gilmore — his best performance since “Punch-Drunk Love” 15 years ago, they proclaim.
“Adam Sandler has been bad in so many awful films that when he’s terrific in a great one, it’s both a revelation and a windfall – like you’re digging around at the back of the garden shed for the first time in years and find a Picasso propped up against the wallpaper steamer,” writes critic Robbie Collin in London’s Telegraph.
Baumbach made “The Meyerowitz Stories” with independent money, and Netflix picked it up in post-production, according to the BBC.
Sandler is very familiar with the streaming service, where he has found “a comfortable home” for his work, writes Entertainment Weekly.
He has worked with Netflix since 2015, when his Happy Madison Productions signed a lucrative deal with the streaming service, agreeing to develop, produce and star in four films.
In March he signed a contract to produce four more films for Netflix. Two of their first collaborations – “The Ridiculous 6” and “The Do-Over” – were “the biggest film releases for the service,” Netflix has said.
As part of his original deal with Netflix, Sandler also starred in the romantic comedy “Sandy Wexler.”
Last month, Netflix, known to be secretive when it comes to viewership numbers, revealed just how much its users love Sandler – its viewers had streamed more than 500 million hours of Sandler movies.
Some critics have savaged the Sandler/Netflix matrimony.
“Adam Sandler is done,” huffed Jesse David Fox at Vulture when Sandler re-upped with Neftlix in March.
“For a person who was once one of the most consistent box-office draws in Hollywood, this is a clear message: He’s out, baby!”
Then along came Cannes.
In “The Meyerowitz Stories,” with “no shtick to fall back on, Sandler is forced to act, and it’s a glorious thing to watch — even for those fans who like him best in perpetual man-child mode (don’t worry: the character is a full-grown variation on that familiar Sandler prototype),” writes Peter Debruge, chief film critic for Variety.
“Perhaps that’s why Netflix, which is in the Adam Sandler business, scooped up this relatively high-brow Scott Rudin production just weeks before its Cannes film festival premiere.
“Still, it’s odd to think that the company responsible for ‘Sandy Wexler’ and ‘The Ridiculous Six’ could conceivably earn Sandler his first Oscar nomination ...”
“The Meyerowitz Stories” will debut on Netflix and in a select group of theaters later this year.