There are several unforgettable moments in sports. There is Babe Ruth pointing his bat before he hit a home-run, Michael Jordan switching hands in mid air gliding between all 5 Laker defenders, and Joe Montana finding Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone. And then there are moments in film that people will never forget. At the end of Citizen Kane when you see the Rosebud on the sled, when Sally has an orgasm in the restaurant in front of Harry, and Luke stares at Darth Vader as Vader removes his helmet.
Adam Sandler has not made movies like those above, nor has he participated in any professional sports. But Adam Sandler has given us two Sports films. Since Sandler wrote and starred in both The Waterboy and Happy Gilmore I figured they both constitute as Jewish Sports Films.
The Waterboy is about an awkward man-child named Bobby Boucher. Boucher lived with his mother, the very seductive Kathy Bates, and eventually finds his way on the South Central Louisiana State University Football team. Boucher had been the team’s water boy and out of nowhere tackles the team captain. The coach (The Fonz) signs him up to be on the team. Eventually, Boucher plays for the Mud Dogs and they win the big game. The movie itself is old school Adam Sandler. He is goofy, actually beyond goofy.
Happy Gilmore on the other hand is one of the best comedies of my generation. It is about a never-going-to-make-it hockey player named Happy Gilmore who is discovered as a golfer. He is convinced to try out for the tour and agrees in order to help out his grandmother. This movie is filled with unforgettable scenes. Bob Barker punches Gilmore out on a golf course, Gilmore has to beat his nemesis Shooter McGavin, and of course the constant destruction of his trainer Chubbs’ hand.
Together these films helped put Adam Sandler on the map. Waterboy grossed $185,991,646 compared to Happy Gilmore, which grossed $41,205,099. Now of course Waterboy came out two years after Sandler had gotten huge from Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. But still the numbers, taken from wikipedia, don’t seem right because Waterboy pretty much sucks in comparison to Happy Gilmore (feel free to comment if you disagree).
With that being said, Sandler is truly a Jewish Sports Athlete playing both football and Golf (and attempting to play hockey). As fans it is fun seeing Jewish actors or characters in the jock role (even if the character is a bit off) instead of the quirky/dorky friend next door. So, thanks Mr. Sandler for allowing us Jews to get into the game through the movies.
Below are the Siskel & Ebert reviews of The Waterboy and Happy Gilmore.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
Photo by: Franz Richter