Monday Morning Critic – Adam Sandler, The Ridiculous Six, Netflix and The Most Ineffective Walkout in Movie History

The biggest story of last week, one which caused me to push a column on The Avengers sequel for a week, was of a fairly ridiculous walkout on the set of Adam Sandler’s first of four straight to Netflix films. The Ridiculous Six, a spoof of The Magnificent Seven and other westerns, apparently crossed a lot of lines that resulted in a number of people on set walking off. This, per TMZ, is what inspired to drive off a dozen members of the cast:

“But the spoofing went too far Wednesday, in the eyes of a dozen actors and actresses who walked off the set. Some of the offending jokes included female characters named Beaver’s Breath and No Bra — and a scene where an Apache woman urinates outdoors while smoking a peace pipe.”

More stuff is mentioned in the TMZ piece, of course, and none of it is all that good for Sandler and company. I can see why it’s fairly offensive to those who walked out, of course, as it’s not something I’d find humorous or want to watch in a western. I’m not a Native American but that kind of humor is crossing the line to me. It’s the type of comedy that makes Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West look like a subtle satire of the Western and it’s also par for the course for Sandler. This is why this walkout might among be the funniest things I’ve seen happen to a movie in years.

Why? Because it’s an Adam Sandler film. It’s like walking into a Michael Bay film and complaining about the lack of subtlety.

Anyone signing on to do a western comedy starring Sandler and his merry band of goobers has to realize that it’s not going to be a film intended to make you ponder the treatment of the Native American population in the Old West. It’s like buying a warm Bud Light and complaining that it tastes so bad you’d rather die of thirst than drink any more of it. It’s like watching Les Miserables and complaining that “Wolverine and the Gladiator guy need to stop singing and start with the violence.” It’s like moving to Florida and complaining that the state is home to some of the most messed up stuff in the country.

As much as I want to side with people who went in, knowing the subject matter and comedian tackling it, and walked out offended it gets more difficult when you realize a handful of those who walked out worked on The Lone Ranger. The same film that featured Johnny Depp as Tonto in a performance that can only be described as a weird acid trip combination of minstrel show and dinner theater didn’t cause a single person to go “maybe this is wrong.” Instead it’s the Sandler film that gets the big to do, during production nonetheless. At least Jim Carrey had the courtesy to torch a film after it was completed.

Look, I get it. It’s offensive as hell and I’d probably not watch it on principal alone. But let’s feel too bad for those who walked out, either. You don’t sign on for an Adam Sandler film expecting a film to be either “subtle” or “appropriate for a young child.” This is why the aftermath is going to be amusing. It boils down to one simple, seemingly infallible reality that’s about to happen.

Someone’s going to get sued. A whole lot of somebodies, most likely.

Sandler’s Happy Madison production company, as well as Netflix, most likely has contracts with most of everyone involved that walked out of their production. Breach of contract happens regularly and lawsuits fly in Hollywood on a fairly consistent basis in this regard. Netflix and Happy Madison have a demonstrable, quantifiable loss in dollars because of production delays, new hires and bad publicity. Many studios will put up with delays from A-list actors, et al, because that’s usually the cost of doing business. You put up with Tom Cruise shenanigans because he’s usually a lock to make you an ungodly sum of money. You don’t put up with a bunch of guys who AREN’T Tom Cruise costing you money. If they can’t get their insurance behind the film to cover it someone’s going to get sued for damages.

Throw in the fact that no one in this country can be offended anymore without suing, as well, and this is going to be an amusing finish to what otherwise would be a throwaway film in the Adam Sandler film resume.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This week’s DVD – Napoleon Dynamite (The Complete Animated Series)

I could not stand the film Napoleon Dynamite when it came out. Still can’t. I paid to see it in theatres and thought it was so stupid that I nearly demanded my money back. It’s one of the few films I’ve been that displeased about spending my money over to want it back. Thus when Fox announced they were going to do an animated version of the film I kind of shrugged, mainly because the Dynamite phenomenon had long since been dead. It felt like the animated version of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure or Back to the Future, i.e. a last minute try to wring as much money out of the property as possible before shelving it for good … or until the inevitable reboot/relaunch/sequel is put into production.

The show takes place in the time frame after the film ending but before the “Kip gets married” post-credits ending scene that was added later. It was a mid season replacement for six episodes for Fox, winding up getting solid ratings but not good enough ratings to earn a second season of full length, and brought back the entire original cast from the film. The show takes the same sort of humor from the film and brings a different sensibility to it because of the show’s time length. It’s odd to enjoy this show, considering how much the film bugged me then (and now, as I rewatched it to be sure), but it took away huge swathes of what I didn’t enjoy about the movie and brought a stronger, better timing to it.

In the end it’s a shame that someone like Netflix couldn’t have had the first crack at this as opposed to a network because I think it’d have found a bigger audience online as a binge watch, ala Bojack Horseman, than as a sort of wacky mid-season replacement. The show feels it deserves more than six episodes and the ability to marinate organically over time, which usually isn’t possible for something on a network. As a Netflix sort of oddity this would’ve been something that could’ve succeeded. As a sort of oddball animated show, not as heavily promoted or marked as part of Fox’s animation Sunday block, it didn’t work.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Tony Stark creates a robot to protect the world. Hilarity ensues.

See it – It made like $200 million overseas this past weekend and it’s going to hit that amount domestically, easy. Everyone’s going to see it, even me.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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