UnHappy with Madison

How Happy Madison is ruining the movie industry.

By Bryan Berlin

Today, you can pay $12 to go see a movie about a guy working in the porn industry. Ooh like The Girl Next Store, where I got to see some smokin’ hot ladies? No, not like that. So like more of a heartfelt comedy like Zack and Miri Make a Porno, where you have some laughs and some nudity all together with a slightly overweight but loveable main characer? Well, I guess sort of like that, but the main character is very overweight and extremely unattractive. Probably not likable either. It’s called Bucky Larson. And yes, it’s a Happy Madison movie. Surprised? Didn’t think so.

Happy Madison is Adam Sandler’s production company, whose name comes from two of the most memorable and funniest comedies of the 90s: Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. These were movies that kids of the 80s and early 90s loved, and made Adam Sandler a comedy icon of the 90s. When I was a kid, Adam Sandler was my favorite actor. At the turn of the century, Sandler decided to start his own production company that makes more of those lovable comedies.

Just Go With It. Grown Ups. Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Bedtime Stories. You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. These are all the last five Happy Madison movies to be released. Each of these movies have made over $200 million worldwide at the box office. These movies also have a collective 125% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s an average of 25% a movie. As a comparison, Pixar’s last five movies have a collective 427%, an average of 85% (and that’s with Cars 2 bringing them down with a 36%).

Now I know what you’re thinking: comedies don’t need to be critically acclaimed. In fact, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison are at 59% and 45% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes. If people enjoy the movies and it brings in money, who cares if it’s good? You should care, America. You should care.

The problem with these movies succeeding is that the movie industry suffers. Right now, the movie industry is full of reboots, sequels, and remakes. People are taking very few chances on original ideas, so when they do happen, they need to make money. Happy Madison has successfully figured out a system to both write original ideas and make money, but the movies aren’t a real work of genius. I assume this is the kind of conversation that takes place during brainstorming for one of their movies:

Sandler: “Hey Rob Schneider. You watch a lot of porn. What do you never see in porn?”

Schneider: Two guys inserting their penises into the same fake vagina? Like into a water wiggly?

Sandler: What the hell are you talking about? No, an unattractive, overweight porn star with buck teeth.

Schneider: I don’t know. Isn’t that kind of what Ron Jeremy is?

Sandler: Ok, we’ll give him a tiny penis.

Schneider: Can I star in it?

Sandler: I’ll give you a supporting role. Maybe we could get Kevin James.

Schneider: Isn’t he working on one of your movies where he plays some sort of a security guard?

Sandler: We’ll figure it out.

Sure the movie will get some laughs, but really audiences aren’t helping the situation by giving them their money. There is nothing that says a comedy has to get bad reviews to bring in an audience. The Hangover, Bridesmaids, and Horrible Bosses have all shown you could have a good movie that pulls in big money. At some point, I think the whole Happy Madison crew got lazy and just decided to go for the money instead of the content.

It’s not all bad though. Sure, since the inception of Happy Madison in 1999 they have not released a movie with a ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes (over 60%). However, Mr. Madison 23 Productions, a subsidiary of Happy Madison, has produced two movies, Reign Over Me and Funny People. One was a life drama and the other was a dramedy, but both received a good amount of critical success. If Sandler and crew actually put some thought into something and use a different production company name (most likely so they don’t taint the beautiful Happy Madison name), they can put out some great movies.

Maybe it is just an appeal to younger audiences. Where Judd Apatow nails the R-rated demographic, Adam Sandler and Happy Madison nails the PG-13 one. Maybe I just grew out of liking those kinds of movies, but at the same time I feel like they are becoming less and less appealing to younger audiences also. I’d like to think they have the potential to turn things around and really come up with some great movies, but then I saw the trailer for Jack and Jill, their next movie coming out in November, and I want to give up on humanity.

I would have gone to see Bucky Larson just to tell you how it was America, but it’s currently at 0% after 3 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and I just have better things I could be doing with my time. Like nap.


Bryan Berlin is an aspiring comedy writer and is the Creator and Editor-In-Chief of Broken Spork. You can follow him on twitter here.


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