At this point, the majority of Adam Sandler fans are aware that his movies boast many connections, creating a Happy Madison cinematic universe that was established in 1999 when Happy Gilmore‘s Chubbs showed up in Little Nicky, and continues to this day following Ben Stiller’s cameo as Hal L. in Hubie Halloween.
Throughout the 21st Century, Sandler’s starring vehicles have featured several recurring figures that’ve appeared in multiple films, even though the only live-action sequel he’s made during his entire career has been Grown Ups 2. The actor has joked that he’d love to do an Avengers-style crossover, but a new fan theory now claims that his shared mythology is a lot more intricate than that and similar to Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic universe.
Yes, the longest-running cinematic universe in Hollywood is the one that takes place inside the filmography of Tarantino, which exists in two different planes of reality. The director has explained in the past that characters from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction would head to their local cinema to check out From Dusk Till Dawn or Kill Bill on the big screen, and the Sandlerverse theory all hinges on Judd Apatow’s Funny People.
You see, in the dramatic comedy, Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, who much like the man himself has starred in a series of comedies that are widely dismissed by critics, but have proven massively popular with audiences. If Simmons is positioned at the center, then the various Happy Madison comedies would be the projects he makes to appeal to his core fanbase, while the likes of Uncut Gems and Reign Over Me would act as his serious plays at reinventing himself as an acclaimed actor.
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As ScreenRant explains:
What if those movies – including Little By Little, Astro-Not, Code Green, and Sayonara Davey – were actually part of the same multiverse as Grown Ups, Jack & Jill, and The Do-Over? What if Sandler’s movies are set up the same as Quentin Tarantino’s shared universe, whereby there are separate levels dictated by “real life” and the movies those characters watch in their own theatres. The nuance here, of course, is that those movies within movies are the work of George Simmons, which is why they’re so terrible. When Sandler is acting by numbers, bringing in his friends for bit-part, goofball roles and is catering to the lowest common denominator, it’s actually Simmons in the lead. Those movies are typically marked by recurring characters as an added nod to them not existing in conventional terms.
The “movie realm” of George Simmons’ movies are a constant, while everything else is a different branch of the universe, in which Adam Sandler makes movies of the calibre of Uncut Gems, Funny People, Reign Over Me, and The Meyerowitz Stories. Sure, it’s self-serving to imagine unity based on quality, but it’s telling that Sandler’s best critically acclaimed movies tend to avoid the tropes most associated with a prototypical “Sandler movie” like a silly accent, a troupe of familiar friends in the cast. It’s almost like a conscious decision to separate them into different types. Or, more pertinently, different levels.
Sure, it get a little meta and perhaps too self-aware the longer you think about it, but it makes for a fascinating idea nonetheless.