Difficulty getting off the couch prompted us to watch yet another Adam Sandler produced Netflix movie last night, Father of the Year, starring David Spade. Our hopes to find a comedy are still unfulfilled. Ah, hope. Such a naïve and dangerous feeling. Still, we watched, and we will probably watch whatever he puts out next. The trailers are so exciting. Our lives are not. If you would like us to watch your film, please learn from the master, Adam Sandler. Here is his secret recipe for success.
Step One: Call up old friends and find out which have a couple minutes and an alimony payment coming due. The good thing about this is that most of Sandler’s pals are likable and seem to save most of their time for Sandler projects (though we don’t know why Chris Rock ever says yes; he’s way too good). They will be ready. All of them evoke good feelings of that one funny movie they were in a decade or two ago and thus provide hope that they will do something funny again. Sandler knows this and ensures he reminds you at the beginning of every one of his productions that he was the guy who made Happy Gilmore. In his latest production, Spade wears a Joe Dirt haircut which fills us with nostalgic giggles.
Step Two: Spin the wheel of bad accents. Sandler became famous for singing with a strange accent, which was more like a childhood speech impediment than whatever it was supposed to be. Learning from this, he ensures that most of his movies include characters who speak in exaggerated versions of the TV versions of the regional dialect the movie is set in. The only one I like is Rob Schneider’s “You Can Do It” guy, which is so distant from anything I’ve ever heard it maintains a fresh and original sound. In this movie, one character in Massachusetts movie, Spade, makes you aware that he is talking funny. The others in the neighborhood haven’t caught on.
Step Three: Find a pretty woman actress who can pretend to be attracted to the much less attractive male lead. This is one of the keys to his ongoing success. If funny misfits can relate to the main character, and the main character is able to find an attractive, intelligent woman who likes him, there is hope. I guess I already spoke about hope, though. Women who are able to do this should get special recognition at one of the award shows. “And the award for female actress who was able to keep a straight face while pretending to be attracted to an odd looking comedian is ____. Whoa. This envelope is filled with names.”
Step Four: Hide out in junior high locker room to hear the latest poop, pee-pee, and bodily fluid jokes. Jot these down. Put them in a jar and let the characters pull them out before scenes that have nothing to do with poop, pee-pee (and here we mean both urine and penises), and bodily fluids. This will keep the core audience hooked. They’ll say “It’s like the writers were listening to us.” And they were. For Father of the Year, the spies also overheard some pretty witty ironic love dialogue which the young romantic interests were able to utter. This was completely accidental.
Step Five: Consult the book Stock Characters in Mindless Comedy by Milton Smudge and choose randomly from the list. Make it into a drinking game. Here we have a slacker with a heart of gold, a smart person on the verge of success who eventually turns down the good life for something more “meaningful,” a crooked greedy millionaire, a horny nerd, a dumb jock. Stop when you reach the limitations of budget.
Step Six: Cut a couple of the characters from above to make room for some children and elderlies. Both are great targets for smut humor. Get it? They are either too young or too old to be having sex, so the scenes with sexual references they will be involved in will be hilarious. If the audience thinks “that isn’t right,” it will be oh so right. Make the kids really pretentious and bossy. Make the elderly characters super sexualized and kinky. In Father of the Year, the little kid bosses the parents, pees in the humidifier and his squirt gun, gets to take part in a sex conversation, and is told to shut the f up. Fantastic. The widowed elderly neighbor has a latex allergy and has sex with the young neighbor and Spade. Comedy gold.
Step Seven: Now that you’ve got some cool lines, a famous lead who made funny films in the past, a line-up of stereotypical supporting characters, and plenty of poop and pee-pee, you come up with a plot. Why not just borrow one from the latest movie you watched or from one of those films that were funny in the past. No one cares about plot anyway. All you have to do is have a ridiculous hook like a score that needs to be settled or a store that needs to be saved, some sort of decision that needs to be made, like should I stay here or go there, or should I choose this person or that, and you’ve got the plot. Set it up, make sure it doesn’t look like the good guys will win and the decision will be made correctly, and then end it all on a high note. Don’t think too hard.
Step Eight: You have to do some sort of re-write so that it seems like you care. The best re-writes for Sandler movies are to complement the decisions made in casting the female lead with scenes that further extend the viewers suspension of disbelief. Make the small or un-athletic comedian a fighter or a football star. Give him some great dance moves or make him romantically confident. Your goal is to reach the level of The Longest Yard.
Step Nine: Add sprinkles. This isn’t a Hollywood term yet, but it should be. Everyone knows that the thing that makes a sheet cake more attractive is an unhealthy dose of candy sprinkles. These movies are like sheet cake. The sprinkles will make it shine. Since it is Netflix, add at least two male butt scenes–especially if the butt is unattractive or the famous person’s butt has never been in a movie (publicity!). Then install an F-word light on set and let a meth addict hold the clicker that activates it. Every time the light goes off, the actor says the f-word. Now we’re talking comedy.
Step Ten: Make a great trailer. That will give people hope. And since it’s on Netflix, and no one has to expend any energy or additional cash to watch it, you’ve hooked your audience. You will be seen. You can do it.