The human body is capable of pushing itself to astonishing heights. Feats of endurance so grand they inspire films, books and songs and become legend. Slaying beasts. Circumnavigating the globe. Racing the Iditarod. Watching at least one Adam Sandler film every day for a year.
To some, a yearlong marathon of the Sandman’s considerable oeuvre brings to mind questions of why? And how? And what? (And WTF?) To Los Angeles music publicist and avowed Sandlerhead Eloy Lugo, however, it simply was the #YearOfSandler, a quest most honorable whose purpose has been to prop up his hero and perhaps encourage a reevaluation of Billy Madison’s extensive body of work. This isn’t the first time Lugo has paid homage to Sandler, this January he hosted the third annual SandlerCon, a 24 hour movie marathon complete with cosplay and themed menus that received Twitter shoutouts from members of the Sandlerverse.
Lugo’s yearlong cinematic pilgrimage began on a day most holy, September 9th (Sandler’s birthday) of last year and came to its conclusion with a well-attended screening of the underrated (Lugo’s words) Little Nicky at LA’s Downtown Independent Theater exactly one year later.
I chatted with Lugo to marvel at his feat and ask him just what in the hell he was thinking. Surprisingly, I found myself reevaluating the guy who made Jack and Jill and the Grownups films. Hey, as Eloy mentioned, if Paul Thomas Anderson loves the guy, perhaps there’s something we’re all missing.
VICE: You’re married and I’m wondering about how the year of Sandler has affected your home life. Your poor wife.
Eloy Lugo: She is definitely also a big fan, but I don’t think anyone other than me would try something like this. I usually get home before her and try to watch the movie right away, but if our arrival times overlap we’ll watch whichever movie she’s in the mood for.
Was there a method to this madness? How have you consumed the films?
A parameter that I set up for myself is that I would watch whatever film I was in the mood for instead of watching them in order over and over. Although every once in a while I would switch it up. At the beginning of the year I watched his entire filmography in order. During Hanukkah I watch Eight Crazy Nights eight times in a row. I did a week of The Week Of when it came out, that sort of thing. But mostly I just watched whatever I felt like.
It seems like after a while the answer to the question “What do I want to watch?” would be “None of these. None.”
Yeah I mean, I’ve probably seen Mr. Deeds at least 30 times. I watched Eight Crazy Nights a bunch because it’s only like an hour and 15 minutes so it’s the shortest… But I do love Eight Crazy Nights.”
Do you know which of the Sandman’s films you’ve seen the most?
Oh man. I feel like it’s either Jack and Jill or Grown Ups 2 because those are the most fun to rewatch for me because they’re both so silly. Grown Ups 2 is like, fucking insane.
What gives something like Jack and Jill rewatch value for you?
Well, I think he’s really good in Jack and Jill. I know that’s not, like, the general consensus, but specifically his acting as Jill in the film. In the hands of anyone else that character would be extremely unlikable and grating because she’s the quintessential unwanted guest, but he is so adept at getting into and playing these characters even if they’re totally unlikeable that by the end you’re rooting for them.
Tell me about SandlerCon.
The first thing we did was put together this five course menu based on stuff in the movies. We had the meatballs served directly onto your hand from The Wedding Singer, sloppy joes for Billy Madison, spam and waffles for 50 First Dates, Popeye’s for Little Nicky, [and] tons of pizza from nearby Town Pizza—which has become the official sponsor of SandlerCon—for Mr. Deeds.
Is defending the Sandman something of ongoing battle for you?
Oh god. It’s kind of been a constant stance that I have had to take a lot, especially for this and SandlerCon. It’s like, “No, he’s really good and it’s not just in Punch Drunk Love!” He has a certain charm, that movie star quality, especially when he went on that late 90s run.
I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t taken on more dramatic material given the consensus seems to be that he was great in Punch Drunk Love. Does that surprise you at all?
Yeah, there’s been a handful of stuff that’s been critically praised for his acting. I think the general consensus is that he was really good in Funny People, he’s great in Reign Over Me.
He’s very good in The Meyerowitz Stories.
Oh yeah. I think that might be his best performance.
He’s also got his crew of collaborators he keeps making films with despite the knowledge that they’re going to almost assuredly get panned.
He’s almost loyal to a fault. It’s like, “Why are you still carrying Rob Schneider on your back? He sucks!” But that’s his crew.
When Sandler does get praise do you feel vindicated?
Yes. It’s super vindicating. Right before Meyerowitz came out there were articles in the AV Club and I think The Ringer saying it was finally time to reevaluate whether or not he was a good actor. And whenever that stuff happens me and a handful of other people are like, “Yeah, fucking finally!” Paul Thomas Anderson is one of his biggest champions. I think he was on Bill Simmons podcast recently and was just gushing about Sandler.
I wonder if as he gets older he’ll have a sort of Jerry Lewis thing where he’s really revered late in his career.
That’s a great comparison, because they both just go fully in with their characters, even if they’re unlikable or silly or whatever. I think Sandler gives every performance his all—a lot of people might say Sandler is phoning it in sometimes—but I really think he commits. And there’s no one else, other than someone like, Woody Allen maybe, who has made a film every year since ‘98.
Speaking of that, how happy has it made you that he released three films while you were doing this?
It’s been amazing. It’s been super cool to be able to get out of the house and go to a theater and watch one. There’s a theater here in LA that did a run of Meyerowitz on 35mm and I watched that twice. I saw Hotel Transylvania three times in the theater.
So in terms of your stamina, I remember reading on Twitter at the six month mark you really hit a wall.
Oh yeah. That was definitely my lowest moment in the year, hitting that six month mark. It just felt like I had been doing it for so long at that point that the thought of going through all of it again was super daunting and stressful. I definitely thought about quitting every day for a while there. It was just, I’m done. This is the last one I’m going to watch. I just can’t do it. But then it felt it would be such a waste to stop after six months, so I just powered through it.
Talking to you and really thinking about his work, if you’re in your 30s like us and grew up with Sandler, you’ve seen a lot. I mean, we saw him on SNL .
Right. SNL and the albums, too. I saw him record his new special and it was 80 percent songs and they were all incredible.
I think people forget that music was his thing when he started.
Yep, it’s what got him on Weekend Update. And so many of his movies have songs that he wrote— Meyerowitz has songs he wrote with Randy Newman.
And you’d never met him before, but you’ve met him twice since this started, right?
Twice just going to his shows I’ve met him. The second time I met him we went to see the taping of his special and he was just casually eating dinner with [Paul Thomas] Anderson and Judd Apatow in front of the venue he was going to play in a couple of hours. I got in line and when he was done with dinner he came up and walked down the line thanking everyone for coming and posed for pics with everyone. He really comes off as a genuine sweetheart. The first time I met him I told him my wife and I had our first dance at our wedding to “Grow Old With You” from The Wedding Singer and his response was, "Oh man, that’s so cool! Say hello to your wife for me." Who does that, you know?
Why did you choose Little Nicky for the #YearOfSandler screening ?
I think of Little Nicky as a super fun one that most people haven’t revisited since it came out since I think it was maybe his first flop—but it was also his first high-concept film. There are so many crazy cameos in it: Harvey Keitel, Reese Witherspoon, Ozzy Osbourne, Quentin Tarantino, the Harlem Globetrotters are in it for a minute. I think it was the first one that had recurring characters from the other movies: Chubbs from Happy Gilmore is in it, Whitey from Eight Crazy Nights—oh, the ‘You can do it!’ townie character is in it.
You’ve gotten quite a few “You can do it!” tweets.
Oh man, that kept me going. Every time I was thinking of quitting I would get so many “You can do it!” tweets, I had to keep going.
I mean, there was a five year stretch of my youth where you could just walk into a room and yell that and everyone would know what you were doing.
Right. And there’s so much stuff like that.
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