Adam Sandler Recounts One Of His Most Beloved Movies Getting Trashed By Critics

“The Hustle” star also opened up about how the “harsh” reviews affected him.
Adam Sandler said the reviews of "Billy Madison" were so rough that he stopped reading reviews.
Adam Sandler said the reviews of "Billy Madison" were so rough that he stopped reading reviews.
Steven Ferdman via Getty Images

Critics thought one of Adam Sandler’s first movies was such a flaming bag of poop that it completely changed his perspective.

Although reviews for the comedian’s new Netflix movie, “The Hustle,” have been good, Sandler probably won’t read them — thanks to “Billy Madison.”

Sandler said during a Netflix conversation about his new film, according to Entertainment Weekly, that the reviews of his 1995 comedy were so “harsh” that he stopped reading reviews altogether.

“Billy Madison” follows its extremely immature titular character (Sandler) as he repeats grades one through 12 in order to inherit his father’s hotel empire.

Adam Sandler in a class for children in a scene from 1985's "Billy Madison." Critics were not kind.
Adam Sandler in a class for children in a scene from 1985's "Billy Madison." Critics were not kind.
Universal Pictures via Getty Images

The worst part is that Sandler also admitted that he and his longtime collaborator Tim Herlihy, who co-wrote “Billy Madison” with him, were actually excited to see what critics would say about it when the movie was first released.

“We were just like, ‘Oh, yeah, they’re going to write about this in New York!’ We grew up reading the papers, we were going to NYU. And then we read the first one and we were like, ‘Oh, my God, what happened? They hate us.’ And then we were like, ‘It must have been this paper,’ but then 90% of the papers are going, ‘This is garbage.’”

Sandller said that, although the reviews “stung,” he was more concerned about how his family would react to them because “you know your grandmother’s reading it.”

Sandler said that thanks to that first huge surge of negativity, he and Herlihy decided “maybe we shouldn’t read this stuff because it’s so harsh.”

“I say the first two or three, ‘Happy Gilmore,’ ‘The Wedding Singer,’ we would still kinda hear about it,” Sandler continued. “People would call us up, ‘Can you believe they said this about you?’ I’d be like, ‘I didn’t read it, man.’”

Sandler has been pretty open about how he feels about bad reviews for quite some time now. In 2015, he told radio show host Howard Stern — who admitted to panning his movies in the past — that he couldn’t give a “fuck” how critics review his films, but he does care about how they affect the people who star in his films. “The bad reviews that I get on everything I do, that part pisses me off, because I ask my fucking friends to be in it, and to ask them to be in this stuff and I’m promising them I think it’s good,” Sandler told Stern.

He added to Stern that he’s created such a hard shell that he doesn’t even care if he gets good reviews.

“I swear to God, I don’t want them. I don’t take them,” Sandler said. “When they say I’m good in something and someone calls me up and says, ‘Wow, The Village Voice said blah blah blah,’ I’m just like, ‘I don’t give a fuck.’”

Yet, it seems that thanks to some critical acclaim since 2015 — like 2017’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” and 2019’s “Uncut Gems” — Sandler is a little less cantankerous toward critics.

“It’s okay, I get it. Critics aren’t going to connect with certain stuff and what they want to see,” Sandler said, according to EW. “I understand that it’s not clicking with them.”

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