At one point during a celebrity’s career, that person yearns to branch out of their comfort zone, and expand their repertoire. There is a joke in Europe, “Every athlete thinks they’re an actor. Every actor thinks they’re a rock star. Every rock star thinks they’re an athlete.” In the U.S., every comedic actor eventually wants to try their hand at serious, dramatic roles.
For this “Versus” matchup, we pit two comedians who have dabbled in both movie comedies and dramas against one another. We want you to decide which one is better overall in both categories. Here is a little about each comedian to help you decide:
Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, entrepreneur, film producer, and musician. After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in many Hollywood feature films that combined have grossed over $2 billion at the box office. He is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Billy Madison (1995), the sports comedies Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Waterboy (1998), the romantic comedy The Wedding Singer (1998), Big Daddy (1999), and Mr. Deeds (2002). Though he has ventured into more dramatic territory with his roles in Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), Reign Over Me (2007), and Funny People (2009). In 1999, Sandler founded Happy Madison Productions, a film and television production company that has produced numerous films and developed the 2007 television sitcom series Rules of Engagement.
Early in his career, Sandler played Theo Huxtable’s friend, Smitty in The Cosby Show and a stud boy or Trivia Delinquent in the MTV game show Remote Control. After his film debut, Going Overboard in 1989, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother’s urging when he was 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler’s act in Los Angeles and recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990, and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show, including “The Thanksgiving Song” and “The Chanukah Song”. Sandler told Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show that NBC fired him and Chris Farley from the show in 1995.
In 1993, Adam Sandler co-starred in Coneheads with Chris Farley, David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman, and Jane Curtin. In 1994, he co-starred in Airheads with Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi. He starred in Billy Madison (1995) as a grown, though uneducated, man repeating grades 1–12 to earn back his father’s respect, along with the right to inherit his father’s multi-million-dollar hotel empire. In At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert gave the film a very bad review, and said of Sandler “…Not an attractive screen presence, he might have a career as a villain or a fall guy or the butt of a joke, but as the protagonist his problem is he creates the fingernails on the blackboard” with Siskel adding “…you don’t have a good motivation for the character’s behavior”. He followed this film with Bulletproof (1996), and the financially successful comedies Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998). He was initially cast in the bachelor party-themed comedy/thriller Very Bad Things (1998), but had to back out due to his involvement in The Waterboy (1998), one of his first hits.
Although his earliest films did not receive critical praise, he started to receive more positive reviews, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love in 2002. Roger Ebert’s review of Punch-Drunk Love concluded that Sandler had been wasted in earlier films with poorly written scripts and characters with no development. Sandler has moved outside the genre of slapstick comedy to take on more serious parts such as the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe), Spanglish (2004) and Reign Over Me (2007). He played a loving father figure in Big Daddy (1999). During filming, he met Jacqueline Samantha Titone—his future wife and mother of his two daughters—who was cast as the waitress from The Blarney Stone Bar.
At one point, Sandler was considered for the part that went to Jamie Foxx in Collateral (2004). He also was one of the finalists along with Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp for the role of Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). He returned to more dramatic fare with Mike Binder’s Reign Over Me (2007), a drama about a man who loses his entire family in 9/11 and rekindles a friendship with his old college roommate (Don Cheadle). He starred with Kevin James in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), as a New York City fireman pretending to be gay to keep up an insurance scam so that his best friend’s children can have benefits. Sandler headlined You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), a comedy about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death and moves to the United States to become a hair stylist.
Sandler starred along with Keri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand in Adam Shankman’s fantasy film Bedtime Stories (2008), as a stressed hotel maintenance worker whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. It marked as Sandler’s first family film and first film under the Walt Disney banner. Sandler appeared in Grown Ups, teaming up with Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade (all of whom have worked with Sandler before) for a film about five best friends from high school who reunite 30 years later on the July 4 weekend. Other costars include Salma Hayek (as Sandler’s wife), Maria Bello (as James’ wife), and fellow SNL alumna Maya Rudolph (as Rock’s wife), Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, and Norm Macdonald. Sandler and Dickie Roberts scribe Fred Wolf wrote the script and Dennis Dugan directed the film.
Sandler starred with Jennifer Aniston in the 2011 romantic comedy film Just Go with It, as a plastic surgeon who asks his office manager, played by Aniston, to pose as his wife, in order to prove his honesty to his much younger girlfriend, played by Brooklyn Decker. It was written by Allan Loeb and Tim Dowling and directed by Dennis Dugan. Sandler also voiced a Capuchin monkey in Kevin James’ Zookeeper, released on July 8, 2011. In 2012, he starred in That’s My Boy, as a man who fathered a son (Andy Samberg) with his teacher in high school. Thirty years later, he visits his son on the eve of his wedding and clashes with the bride (Leighton Meester).
Sandler starred with Drew Barrymore in the Warner Bros. romantic comedy Blended, which was filmed in South Africa, and was released on May 23, 2014.
James Eugene “Jim” Carrey (born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian American actor, comedian, impressionist, screenwriter, and film producer. Carrey has received two Golden Globe Awards. Known for his highly energetic slapstick performances, he has been described as one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood.
Carrey first gained recognition in 1990 after landing a recurring role in the sketch comedy In Living Color. His first leading roles in major productions came with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), The Mask (1994), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995), as well as a supporting role in Batman Forever (1995) and a lead role in Liar Liar (1997). He then starred in The Truman Show (1998) and Man on the Moon (1999), with each garnering him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
In 2000, he gained further recognition for his portrayal of the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and then, in 2003, for Bruce Almighty. The following year he starred in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). He then starred in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), Yes Man (2008), Horton Hears a Who (2008) and A Christmas Carol (2009). More recently, he has starred in Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013).
In 2013, he appeared in Kick-Ass 2 as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Controversially, he retracted support for the movie two months prior to its release. He issued a statement via his Twitter account that, in light of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, “Now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence.” Carrey reprised his role as Lloyd Christmas, in Dumb and Dumber To, which was produced in late 2013 and released in November 2014.
While Carrey was struggling to obtain work and make a name for himself, his father tried to help the young comedian put together a stage act, driving him to Toronto to debut at comedy club Yuk Yuk’s. Carrey’s impersonations bombed and this gave him doubts about his capabilities as a professional entertainer. His family’s financial struggles made it difficult for them to support Carrey’s ambitions. Eventually, the family’s financial problems were resolved and they moved into a new home. With more domestic stability, Carrey returned to the stage with a more polished act. In a short period of time, he went from open-mic nights to regular paid shows, building his reputation in the process. A reviewer in the Toronto Star raved that Carrey was “a genuine star coming to life”.Carrey was soon noticed by comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who signed the young comic to open his tour performances. Dangerfield eventually brought Carrey to Las Vegas. Carrey soon decided to move to Hollywood, where he began performing at The Comedy Store and, in 1982, appeared on the televised stand-up show An Evening at the Improv. The following year, he debuted his act on The Tonight Show.
Despite his increasing popularity as a stand-up comic, Carrey turned his attention to the film and television industries, auditioning to be a cast member for the 1980–1981 season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Carrey was not selected for the position, although he did host the show in May 1996, January 2011 and October 2014. He was cast in several low-budget films, including Rubberface (1983), in which he played a struggling young comic, and Copper Mountain (1983), in which he played a sex-starved teen. The latter film included his impersonation of Sammy Davis, Jr., and was not considered a full-length feature film since it ran less than one hour and consisted largely of musical performances by Rita Coolidge and Ronnie Hawkins.
In 1984, Carrey was cast as the lead in the NBC sitcom The Duck Factory, where he played a quirky young artist alongside Jay Tarses. However, the show was cancelled during its first season. Despite the cancellation, the show helped Carrey land roles in several films. He played his first leading role in Once Bitten (1985) followed by supporting roles in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), The Dead Pool (1988), and Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992). When Carrey returned to stand-up, he retired his old act, vowing that he did not want to be famous for imitating other people. “Some nights it was a melee, literally, where I’d be standing trying to defend myself for what I was doing. People would be screaming at me to do my old act, and getting actually violent and angry at me.”While many thought he was ill-advised to retire his old act, others were increasingly interested in what Carrey was attempting to do. One of these people was writer/director Judd Apatow. The pair struck up a friendship and began writing material together.
Carrey continued to land small roles in film and television productions in the late 1980s, which led to a friendship with fellow comedian Damon Wayans, who co-starred with Carrey as an extraterrestrial in 1989’s Earth Girls Are Easy. Damon introduced Carrey to his brother Keenen, who was creating a sketch comedy show called In Living Color for the new Fox network. Carrey eventually landed a recurring role in the show which first aired on April 15, 1990. By the third season, Carrey was one of the few remaining original cast members and was ready to move on to bigger things, after agreeing to take on his first lead role in a major Hollywood film.
Carrey did not experience true stardom until he was cast in the lead role of the slapstick comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), which premiered only months before In Living Color ended. Though he agreed to play the title character, Carrey was willing to take the role only if he was allowed to rewrite the script to suit his over-the-top visions. The film, while dismissed by most critics, was an international hit, and transformed Carrey into a bankable box-office star.
That same year, Carrey landed lead roles in The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. The Mask garnered him his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor nomination, with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praising him for his “joyful performance”. Well received by critics, Dumb and Dumber was a commercial success, grossing over $270 million worldwide, and again increasing Carrey’s fanbase.
In 1995, Carrey co-starred in the Joel Schumacher-directed superhero film Batman Forever, in which he played the villain, the Riddler. The feature received reasonable reviews, with most criticism aimed at the movie’s “blatant commercialism”, as characterized by Peter Travers. In that same year, Carrey reprised his role as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Like the original film, it was well received by the public, but heavily criticised by critics. However, it was a huge box-office success, earning $212 million worldwide in addition to breaking records, with a $40 million opening weekend. Carrey earned $20 million for his next film, The Cable Guy (1996). Directed by Ben Stiller, Carrey played a lonely, slightly menacing cable TV installer who infiltrates the life of one of his customers (played by Matthew Broderick). The film tested Carrey’s boundaries of his tried and true “hapless, hyper, overconfident” characters that he is known for regularly playing. However, it did not fare well with critics, many reacting towards Carrey’s change of tone to previous films. Despite the reviews, The Cable Guy grossed $102 million worldwide.
He soon bounced back in 1997 with the critically acclaimed comedy Liar Liar, playing Fletcher Reede, a successful lawyer who has built his career on lying, regularly breaking promises that he makes to his son Max. Max soon makes a birthday wish that for just that one day, his dad would not be able to lie. Carrey was praised for his performance, earning a second Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, “Well into his tumultuous career, Mr. Carrey finally turns up in a straightforward comic vehicle, and the results are much wilder and funnier than this mundane material should have allowed.”
With all that in mind, who do you think is the better comedian and actor, Jim Carey or Adam Sandler? Make a difference! Vote now! If you want to hear our answers, just listen to Podcast Unlimited episode #21.
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