9 Lesser-Known Adam Sandler Movies You Probably Missed

9 Lesser-Known Adam Sandler Movies You Probably Missed
Image credit: Legion-Media, globallookpress, Lionsgate

Some of them are totally worth a watch, others… not so much.

1. Going Overboard (1989)

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Long before he was Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, Adam Sandler was Schecky Moskowitz, an aspiring comedian working as a waiter on a cruise ship. This early Sandler film may have a lowly IMDb rating of 1.8/10, but it's interesting to see a younger, rawer Sandler. He shares the screen with a pre-'Buffy' Seth Green and a pre-'Gilmore Girls' Scott Patterson. The plot, focused on Schecky's ambition to get on stage and make the passengers laugh, is light, but it's a classic tale of an underdog that any Sandler fan would appreciate.

2. Bulletproof (1996)

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Sharing the screen with Damon Wayans, Sandler plays Archie Moses, a car thief, in this action-comedy movie. The plot involves a lot of gunfire, an undercover cop, and the kind of bromance Sandler would later capitalize on in his more famous films. There's a certain charm to Bulletproof, thanks to Sandler's comedic prowess and Wayans' charisma, despite its lackluster 8% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It's one of those '90s movies that scream '90s in every scene, from the clothes to the music to the "we're tough guys but we joke a lot" vibe.

3. Airheads (1994)

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Despite its impressive cast, including Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and of course, Sandler himself, Airheads has remained surprisingly unnoticed. In this comedy, Sandler plays Pip, a drummer in a hard rock band. When their demo tape doesn't get them the attention they crave, the trio decides to hold a radio station hostage until they agree to play their song. The film's premise is delightfully absurd, and the sight of Sandler, Fraser, and Buscemi as hair metal rockers is worth the price of admission alone.

4. Mixed Nuts (1994)

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In this Christmas-themed black comedy, Sandler plays Louie, a ukulele-playing goofball working at a suicide prevention hotline. While it might not be the first film you think of when you're in the mood for a Christmas movie, Mixed Nuts provides a somewhat unique twist to the holiday genre. Sandler's character, while not the lead (the movie's noteworthy ensemble cast includes Steve Martin and Rita Wilson), adds an extra layer of humor to the film's darkly comic plot.

5. Men, Women & Children (2014)

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Definitely one of the most serious roles Sandler has undertaken, Men, Women & Children focuses on the impact of the internet on a group of high school teenagers and their parents. Sandler plays Don Truby, a married man who seeks out an escort service due to his dissatisfied sexual life. The film is a far cry from Sandler's usual comedic fare, but his performance as a lost, confused middle-aged man is both touching and relatable.

6. The Cobbler (2014)

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In The Cobbler, Sandler plays Max Simkin, a fourth-generation cobbler (shoemaker) in New York City. Through the magic of an inherited stitching machine, he discovers he can literally step into his customers' shoes, taking on their appearance and life. From being a drag queen to a dead man, Sandler's character goes through a whirlwind of experiences, learning valuable life lessons along the way.

The movie, despite its unique premise and a star-studded cast, including Steve Buscemi, Dustin Hoffman, and Dan Stevens, struggled at the box office. The Cobbler premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, which is known for hosting Oscar-worthy films. Although The Cobbler didn't hit those heights, Sandler's performance was praised as a departure from his usual comedic roles.

7. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

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This film features Sandler as Barry Egan, a small business owner with severe anger and social interaction issues. His life takes a turn when he falls in love with Lena (Emily Watson), and concurrently gets involved in an extortion scheme due to an impulsive misuse of a phone sex hotline.

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this dark romantic comedy was well received by critics, praising Sandler's dramatic turn. Sandler received a nomination for a Golden Globe for his performance in this film. Also, it features one of the strangest car crashes in film history that apparently had no consequences.

8. Funny People (2009)

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Funny People has Sandler playing George Simmons, a successful stand-up comedian who learns that he has a terminal illness. Seth Rogen's character, Ira, is hired to be his personal assistant and they develop a bond. The film is a blend of comedy and drama, showcasing a different side of Sandler's acting skills.

Despite its heavy plot, the film has its moments of humor and serves as a commentary on the life of comedians. Interestingly, this movie reunites Sandler with his real-life former roommate, Judd Apatow, who directed the film.

9. Reign Over Me (2007)

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Sandler's performance in Reign Over Me is a far cry from his usual slapstick comedy. He plays Charlie Fineman, a man who lost his family in the 9/11 attacks and is reeling from grief. His old college roommate, Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle), runs into him and tries to help him recover. Despite being a commercial failure, Sandler's heart-wrenching performance was critically praised.