Adam Sandler Being Honored With Prestigious Award

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

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Legendary comedian Adam Sandler is receiving one of the highest comedy awards, The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Deadline reported the announcement, noting that Sandler is only the 24th recipient, following in the footsteps of David Letterman, Whoopi Goldberg, John Stewart, and Richard Pryor, among others. The Mark Twain Prize is for humorists that have had an impact on American culture, similar to Mark Twain’s impact in the 19th century.

Whatever critics may say about his films, there is no denying that Adam Sandler’s career has shaped Hollywood. From his five-year stint on Saturday Night Live, where he created characters like Opera Man and debuted timeless holiday songs, to his 90s comedy films, Sandler was everywhere in the 90s and 2000s. Billy Madison, which was savaged by critics, turned a profit, as did the follow-ups, Bulletproof, Happy Gilmore, and the Wedding Singer.

That theme, of critical disdain followed by a large box office, ran through all of Adam Sandler’s films, including ones that he produced through his company, Happy Madison Productions. In 2002, Sandler showed audiences a different side of himself, even earning a Golden Globe Best Actor nomination for his role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love. Both sides of Sandler’s acting talent clashed wildly in 2008, which marked a high and a low for the actor, depending on which movie was being discussed.

Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live.

In 2008, Adam Sandler starred in Reign Over Me, a drama about a man suffering from the loss of his family during 9/11, but that same year he also starred in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry alongside best friend Kevin James. The former is a serious film, the latter is about two best friends pretending to be gay in order to get affordable health insurance. Despite the film’s concept, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry beat out Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix during the film’s second week of release, becoming the #1 film in America for its opening weekend.

Adam Sandler’s mass-market appeal was put to the test by Netflix in 2014, when the streaming giant signed Sandler to an exclusive deal worth $250 million for four films. Ridiculous 6, the first film of the deal, was released in 2016 and immediately became the most-watched film on Netflix in its first month of availability. Once again, critics hated the film but audiences loved it, just as they did every other Netflix film from Sandler, all of which were so successful that Netflix re-upped the deal in 2020 for another four films.

Now following two other award-nominated dramatic roles, in Uncut Gems and Hustle, the SNL alum has ammunition to use against his critics for the rest of his career. Adam Sandler receiving the Mark Twain for American Humor award is a well-deserved high honor for one of the most popular comics in Hollywood. Never one to stay put for long, Sandler already has a number of films in post-production, including Spaceman, Murder Mystery 2 with Jennifer Aniston, and You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah.