The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: 90s Comedies • Billy Madison

Billy Madison

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We end our 90s Comedies series and our 11th season with Tamra Davis’ comedy ‘Billy Madison.’ It was Adam Sandler’s first opportunity to carry a film, and he’s clearly found his audience. What did we think of it?

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“Did the penguin tell you to do this?”

Tamra Davis came on as director for Billy Madison after they’d already been filming for a few days of production as the studio felt the original director wasn’t funny enough. Davis had already met with Sandler and they connected. Plus, it helped that she found him funny. Because of this, she ended up in the director’s seat, taking over the project and delivering a film that, like it or not, has given Sandler a solid home in mid-budget comedy production. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we wrap up our 90s Comedies series and our 11th season with Davis’ 1995 comedy Billy Madison.

Adam Sandler – Love Him or Hate Him

This is a tough film for us to review. Neither of us are fans of Sandler’s juvenile comedy, so we really struggled to review this in a way that appeals to his fans. What we did try to do, though, is to maintain a critical eye without being overly judgmental, knowing that we’re just not the audience for this movie.

It’s a tough place for us, as we both certainly love crass and dumb comedies. We’re both big fans of Dumb and Dumber. So why is this film so much more difficult to like?

There’s a certain element that definitely falls on Sandler’s shoulders. His dumb title character just makes little sense to us. In context of the film’s world, why does he want to run his dad’s company? Is it just to keep Eric from it? Even Billy seems to acknowledge he doesn’t know how to do it. With that, the story ends up feeling like a lot more sketches that don’t tie together cohesively than anything else. That’s a big frustration for us.

We’re also not huge fans of how some of the characters are treated or portrayed. Miss Vaughn isn’t treated well and is written to fall for Billy far too quickly. And what are Sandler and co-writer Tim Herlihy saying about their other female characters, not to mention the gay school principal?

There are funny moments, but rarely do they fall to Billy. For a film about Billy, this makes it very hard for us. Regardless, we do work to not completely bag on this movie but to approach it with some serious thought. Many love it, and for that, we’re happy they have this, Sandler’s comedy, and his film productions. So check it out if you want. Either way, it’s a great conversation. Tune in to check it out. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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