Adam Sandler’s new film, The Ridiculous 6, has been released on Netflix worldwide. It’s “lazy, cliched, poorly written and unfunny”, according to one review. Not by a critic, we should add, but a Netflix user.
In the mainstream press, which occasionally dips its toe in the streaming waters, the Western spoof has been roundly dismissed, bringing surprise to no one. Critics, after all, have it in for Adam Sandler. At least, that’s what Adam Sandler fans think. Both are generalisations, but in the modern Internet age, where people can find opinions on social media within seconds, let alone on Netflix itself, what’s the point of a critic?
For us, it’s about helping people to sift through the sheer volume of videos available online and find what’s worth watching, let alone informing, hopefully providing some level of cultural insight and, of course, entertaining you.
Netflix, meanwhile, has already made clear its stance on that question by signing a deal with Sandler, routinely in the RottenTomatoes “rotten” pile, in the first place – not just for one movie, but for four.
“People love Adam’s films on Netflix and often watch them again and again,” according to Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. Adam’s appeal “spans across viewers of all age… not just in the US but all over the world.”
And Sarandos would know: he’s got the data to prove it. Sandler has 11 movies to his name on Netflix UK, one of the highest number for any performer.
Netflix, therefore, is the perfect place for Sandler to play to his crowd. What’s the point in adding to the pile of negative reviews, then, when the movie’s target audience is already there and, supposedly, ready to enjoy it? Of course, it might be good – hello to Punch-Drunk Love, hashtag “Not All Sandler Films” – but would anyone believe us when it come to such a polarising figure as Sandler? Fans on Netflix, if the company’s data is correct, will already be streaming it anyway.
Rather than join the crowd of potential snark, then, we’re sitting out of this one. Instead, we gave the film 48 hours and selected some reviews by Netflix users at random.
It’s “an insult to intelligence”, says one, who praises Sandler – in a way – for making a movie so bad given the great cast, which includes everyone from Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi to Taylor Lautner.
“At first I was thinking this would be an Adam Sandler movie that is so bad it’s funny,” writes another, suggesting they also subscribe to the narrative that all Adam Sandler movies are, at best, amusing because they’re terrible. “But it’s just… bad,” they finish. “I think they just went full retard on this one,” referring to Tropic Thunder, a very funny Ben Stiller comedy that doesn’t involve Adam Sandler.
“I feel very uncomfortable right now,” they add, which is the opposite of what the comedy is presumably trying to achieve. Perhaps the most interesting perception is that Adam Sandler looks “bored” – despite having signed a lucrative deal with Netflix and been given creative freedom to make any film he wishes.
“For die hard Sandler fans only,” adds another user, adding to the invisible boundary that lies between Adam Sandler fans and the rest of the world. “I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes.”
In switching from cinemas to SVOD, Sandler’s films have – as well as gaining more creative freedom – found themselves in a new marketplace, where the competition for people’s attention isn’t just the other movies on at the cinema, but time: people can now easily click away from a film at any point, meaning a title has to be gripping (or funny) enough to keep watching. After all, it’s not as if Netflix doesn’t have any other comedies.
Surely, though, Adam Sandler fans must be in it for the whole nine yards?
“Being a Adam Sandler film, I knew not to expect much,” begins one, with the kind of devoted optimism that is reserved to Adam Sandler fans and Arsenal supporters. “But this is an awful film that tried so hard to be funny, that it just misses the point I literally didn’t laugh once.”
Critical reviews are always going to be subjective, given voice to one person’s opinion. What the writer likes, the reader may not (something that should be able to be determined from the writing itself anyway). If someone the movie is meant for enjoys a trashy, brainless actioner, then, to some extent, the movie’s a success: it does what it sets out to do. If the target audience say it’s rubbish, though, does that make The Ridiculous 6 a failure? And if so, what does that say about Netflix’s star signing?
There are positive reviews around, though. In fact, the film overall has a four star rating – as we’ve noted before, Sandler’s films always have a strong average rating.
One user gave it five stars, confirming them as a paid-up member of the Sandler club. “This goof ball comedy has delivered exactly what it’s intended to do.”
“You don’t Oscar/Academy award acting skills in a goof ball comedy after all… look at Charlie Chaplin…” they add, omitting the fact that Charlie Chaplin won one Oscar in 1973 and two honorary Oscars to boot.
“Quite a good Western spoof,” writes another, “and especially good for an Adam Sandler film”, suggesting they would normally not be in the target audience anyway – if a film can win someone over who supposedly isn’t going to like it, does that mean it counts as a success?
Another five-star review argued: “To say it’s lazy and cliche is rubbish. Of course it’s cliche, it’s a western. It’s poorly written?. well go do better. It’s a simple atraight ahead movie with some really funny turns in it.”
“So go take a run up my hump n die baldy!” they conclude, after pointing out earlier: “Some of the dumb comments on here are nonsense.”
The Ridiculous 6 is available now on Netflix UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription.