3 Adam Sandler movies on Netflix that defy expectation

Often maligned, Adam Sandler's Netflix run has actually produced several gems – here are three of them

Hubie Halloween (Netflix)
(Image credit: Netflix)

Actor, writer, producer and comedian, Adam Sandler has become one of the voices of a generation. Prolific in his level of work, he has brought a huge amount of iconic characters to the screen and has accrued a small fortune in the process.

However, he is also often the butt of jokes, especially when it comes to his long-term exclusivity deal with Netflix. And yes, the sheer volume of movies he's made for the streaming service has resulted in some real stinkers – but there are several true gems, too. Not least when he's turned to serious roles.

So here we look here at three recent additions to his portfolio of work, each available to stream on Netflix now. And each showing Sandler at his best... in our opinion, at least.


When announced in 2020, very little was known about Spaceman. Would it be another feel-good comedy where Sandler plays a goofy and yet kind hearted astronaut? Would Kevin James pop up as the downtrodden leader of an alien race who needs Sandler to teach him how to roller skate? And at what point would Rob Schneider make an appearance?.

Everything pointed to this being yet another by the numbers slapstick Sandler staple.

So imagine the surprise when it turned out the film was a melancholic study into isolation, grief and the nature of the human condition... And with no Kevin James in sight!

Sandler plays Jakub, a small-time scientist, risen to become his country's first astronaut and who, during a dangerous and seemingly one way mission to Jupiter, encounters Hanus, an entity curious to learn more about humanity. But is Hanus (Paul Dano) real? Has Jakub gone insane through isolation and regret? And, if real, what does Hanus want?

Spaceman is a slow, gentle study into loss and regret. It is a quiet and philosophical film where Sandler is given time and space, excuse the pun, to deliver a subtle and nuanced performance. It's not at all like most of his other work, instead it is a great example of what we should have from him rather than the usual… i'm looking at you Grown Ups 2.

Hubie Halloween

Okay, so with this one it is probably better to start with the basics. 

Sandler plays Hubie Dubois, a good natured but eccentric local community volunteer in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Despite being a genuinely good human being with real love for his town, he is a figure of ridicule in the community, for kids and adults alike. However, when on Halloween real murders and spooky goings on occur, It's up to Hubie to get to the bottom of it and save the town.

Now, when it comes to insane, stupid, cringeworthy Sandler-esque comedy, Hubie Halloween is quite possibly the most Sandler-fied movie since Little Nicky.

It has all the tropes. Weird and unnecessary voice? Check. Undiagnosed and unmentioned physical and mental disability? Check. A cast of all of Sandler's close friends? Check. And, of course, it's an underdog story with a resolution you can see within the first five minutes. It's like Sandler bingo and everybody wins.

So, it's hard to say that Hubie Halloween is a good film, per se. It is fast paced, makes very little sense, has almost no tone or restraint, and has way too many characters that have very little to do, but Sandler himself seems to be having a ball. And you can't help smiling along with him during the ride.

Almost falling into the genre of "so bad it's good", Hubie Halloween is the ultimate Sandler flick. He breaks out all the moves practised over a long career and revels in the madness of the whole thing. I can't help feeling the entire movie was simply a joke or dare that got out of hand, but I honestly would not be unhappy if they announced a sequel.

Uncut Gems

Just imagine having a panic attack that lasts for 135 minutes. Imagine that for the entire time you are thrown into a constantly growing and evolving level of discomfort where despite knowing you can opt out at any time the idea of doing so seems insane. Imagine at the centre of this is an actor who you previously associated with light and fluffy family comedy movies who is giving the performance of his career.

The good news is that you don't have to imagine this, you just need a Netflix subscription and a strong stomach!

In this 2019 Saftie brothers drama, Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a New York jeweller who, in real time, is desperately risking everything to simply stay alive. Chased by those he owes money to, trying to save his business and balancing his personal life, Ratner is a blur of sound and motion for the 135 minutes, driven by sheer adrenaline and the idea of just surviving.

Uncut Gems is a whirlwind of a movie. Uncomfortable to watch, intense, unrelenting and at its core, raw and visceral. You feel for Ratner and simply want him to get through the day.

Sandler delivers the performance of his career, a performance remembered for not only its power but also by the way it was absolutely unrecognised and ignored by the academy at Oscar season. Despite many feeling the film, direction and Sandler’s performance not only should have been nominated, but also should have won Oscar gold, it was absolutely and shamelessly blanked, without a single nomination.

It seems that if you spend your career playing the fool it can be difficult to be seen as anything else.

Uncut Gems is a stunning film, one that you should find the time for. Just make sure you have a nice cup of tea ready for the end and perhaps a place to lie down.

Brian Comber

Liverpool lad, mid-life crisis survivor, writer of short fiction, screenplays, articles, reviews and opinion pieces. Brian is totally in love with cinema in all its many forms. He writes for websites, blogs and published magazines, including Screen Rant, IGN and Purple Revolver in the constant hope it will help him avoid getting a real grown-up job. In his free time, he's a gym obsessive and previously good guitarist.