When’s the last time we saw Adam Sandler buckle down and do some real acting? Do things like Spanglish and Reign Over Me count because they were more drama than comedy, even though they were still pretty cheesy and lame? How about Funny People? That was kind of a meaty part, even though Sandler was essentially playing himself in it. Is his role in Punch Drunk Love really the only thing that could unequivocally be considered an example of Sandler rolling up his sleeves and actually doing some work as an actor?
At this point we’ve gotten so used to the guy wearing cargo shorts and t-shirts while sleepily trudging his way through scenes opposite his friends, that to see him actually engaged in his work would probably feel pretty alien. Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) seems to think that he can get a real performance out of him though, because a report from Deadline says that he’s in the process of signing Sandler to one of the featured roles in his next movie—and Jason Reitman doesn’t make lazy Adam Sandler movies.
The project in question is an adaptation of Chad Kultgen’s novel “Men, Women and Children” and Deadline’s report says that, in addition to Sandler, Reitman is in talks with Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, and possibly even Cameron Diaz to fill out the story’s ensemble.
The main characters in question seem to be a family of people who are all raising junior high-aged kids, and the main conflict they’re dealing with revolves around the question of how to deal with children’s burgeoning sexuality in the age of digital communication. For a better idea of what to expect from this one, Amazon’s listing of Kultgen’s novel describes the work he did by saying, “ … his incisive vision, unerring prose, and red-light-district imagination are at their most ambitious and surprising, as he explores the sexual pressures of junior high school students and their parents navigating the Internet’s shared landscape of pornography, blogs, social networking, and its promise of opportunities, escapes, reinvented identities, and unexpected conflicts.”
It sounds like that’s the sort of material that would give Sandler and company plenty of drama to dig into, but that would also allow them to pop off the occasional dick joke or two to relieve some of the tension. Which would definitely be the sort of role that Sandler could do well with, should he show up motivated. And seeing as Reitman has proven to be one of those directors who’s really good at getting strong performances out of his actors, he might be just the guy to make sure that the Sandman shows up motivated. Here’s to hoping that Reitman is able to get all of the actors he’s looking at. That trio of actresses all bring really well-defined personas to the table, and it would be interesting to watch them rub up against each other. And wouldn’t it be damned refreshing to know that there’s an Adam Sandler movie coming out that you don’t have to completely dread?