When the trailer for “Uncut Gems” came out in fall 2019, many people (including this writer) were skeptical of the movie. Adam Sandler in a high-stakes crime drama in which he doesn’t play a goofy man child?
And then the movie finally hit theaters, and all the skepticism of Sandler’s ability to play a serious role was quickly wiped away. Sandler transforms into Harold Ratner, a charismatic New York City jewelry store owner who is in over his head with sports gambling.
He owes a lot of people a lot of money, and we get to watch Ratner make deal after deal, just waiting for it all to implode.
It is quite jarring to see Sandler in such a dramatic role. We’re used to seeing him play bumbling buffoons who barely have their lives together, but after you’ve watched “Uncut Gems,” you realize that Ratner isn’t that much different from Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore.
Much like Sandler’s other characters, Ratner is living in a fantasy world where the rules don’t apply to him. His estranged wife (played by Broadway vet and the voice of Elsa in “Frozen,” Idina Menzel), is constantly making sure he isn’t getting himself in trouble, yet Ratner can’t help himself from looking for the next big deal. At the end of the day, he is his own worst enemy.
Once the movie was released last fall, it garnered a cult following of fans, and most people were shocked that the film was snubbed at this year’s Oscars. Not only were fans and critics upset that the movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but Sandler himself was also snubbed for a Best Actor nomination.
It would have made for a great story, too. Sandler, one of the world’s biggest movie stars, does a dramatic role that really lets him flex his acting chops -- what a great narrative for awards season. But apparently, it just wasn’t in the cards.
We can only hope Sandler got a boost of acting confidence with this role in “Uncut Gems.” Not that any of his latest project are that bad, but do we really need another “Grown-Ups” movie?
More of Sandler (and other comedic actors, frankly) in semi-serious roles, please!