Everyone loves Summer School, the 1987 film about a laid-back gym coach (Mark Harmon) stuck with a remedial English class full of misfits during a California summer. The film offers fireworks, underdog success, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre references, and a teacher named Mr. Shoop. It may not be a perfect film, but it’s a very, very good one.
Naturally, Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison, is going to remake the film, presumably with the quiet dignity for which they’ve been known. Over the years, Happy Madison has gone from a vanity production house which serves to greenlight the terrible movies of Adam Sandler and his friends to… well, it’s still pretty much just that. The full roster of Happy Madison films almost looks like the Razzies year-over-year nominations list, but with a lack of Paris Hilton. Take a look at what they’ve done, courtesy of the infallible Wikipedia.
Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
The Master of Disguise
Eight Crazy Nights
The Hot Chick
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
50 First Dates
The Longest Yard
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry
Reign Over Me
The House Bunny
You Don’t Mess With The Zohan
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Just Go With It
Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star
Jack And Jill
That’s My Boy
Here Comes The Boom
Wow. That’s a murderer’s row of shit.
The only other thematically consistent films less respected than that roster would be the ________ Movie parody series from Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg. On that list, there are two movies I didn’t outright hate, Funny People and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. I didn’t particularly like these films either, but that’s the highest praise I can dole out to the material in question.
Of course, the Happy Madison banner clearly isn’t going for esteem, as only two of the films listed, Funny People and Reign Over Me, could be construed as anything other than slapstick comedy. But even in that particular genre, it seems as though Sandler and Co. keep cranking them out, as if they were frat boys that want to see exactly what kind of film they can’t get made.
Speaking of which, there should be a feature short or at least a magazine piece in Vanity Fair about the scripts that Happy Madison rejects. How bad do those have to be? I would think that Happy Madison would greenlight a treatment of a cartoon from Highlights for Children if Rob Schneider or Kevin James expressed a passing interest in it.
Of course, no one went broke underestimating the American public, so it’s no wonder that Happy Madison is not only still in business, but probably thriving with fare that only recently have all but the basest moviegoers have written off. Namely, Jack and Jill. So it’s no wonder they keep doing what they’re doing. And it’s not like we’re forced to watch the movies, so my biggest peeve has been that Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, both of whom I think are very, very funny, have relegated themselves to this National Lampoon-direct-to-video level of filmmaking, rather than making more thoughtful, or just plain funnier fare.
News last month came that they were getting their paws on the feature adaptation of Candyland. Now, I’m no Candyland obsessive. I hope no one is a Candyland obsessive, actually, but I was somewhat eager to see what could be done with such rich material from a production design standpoint. I am no longer eager to see that now that Happy Madison is involved. The worlds that HM has managed to demonstrate so far are about as rich and lush as a backcopy of USWeekly. It’s not unreasonable to think, given HM’s painfully long track record, that Candyland will be a cheap, CGI-heavy parade of Sandler and his buddies doing funny voices with no real thoughts paid to plot or anything else for that matter.
The Candyland affair is as good a segue as any to takes us to the news which has Happy Madison getting its paws all over a Summer School remake. Most of Summer School’s charm comes from the fact that it’s a very humane movie that makes you love all the screwed-up characters. I can say with certainty that I’ve never loved a Happy Madison character. Especially not Grandma’s Boy. That guy was a piece of crap. Maybe this remake could force the producers to inject a little more humanity into their normally base films, but if I had to bet on it, I would bet on Happy Madison changing the film rather than the film changing Happy Madison.
I don’t know what the big takeaway is here. If you’re reading this site, there’s a decent chance you’ve already written off these types of films, probably because you’re not 14. I guess we could start a letter-writing campaign to Sandler stating that it’s one thing for him to make his own original terrible movies, but if he starts messing with beloved films from an earlier generation, we’re going to start stealing his cargo shorts and t-shirts. And then he’ll have nothing to wear.