There’s a distinct brand to an Adam Sandler movie, and the multitude of featured songs add to this vibe. From his first appearance in a leading role in Billy Madison, to the more recent Grown Ups, the Adam Sandler film is defined by gross-out humor, his one-of-a-kind manchild shtick and a whole lot of heart. Although his most recent dramatic turns with highly praised directors such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and the Safdie brothers have brought out another side to his career, the Adam Sandler comedy is a spectacle that exudes his humorous side.
Sandler-led flicks often exude a dad-rock energy, and the wistful nostalgic music chosen to accompany them is no different. There are also usually many pop-punk late ’90s/early 2000s jams, upbeat and wholesome to reflect much of the energy of the early Sandler flicks. Each one encapsulates both the film as a whole and the scene it accompanies; they are totally ubiquitous with Adam Sandler movies.
10/10 “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” – Rupert Holmes
Grown Ups (2010)
Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” plays over a moment of slow-mo bliss as the two young sons in the group see the beautiful object of their affection for the first time, Robert Schnider’s grown-up daughter. It not only fits this moment but encapsulates the summer vibes of Grown Ups as a whole.
Everyone knows the story behind this song, especially since being featured as part of ‘Awesome Mix Vol.1’ in Guardians Of The Galaxy. A man grows tired of his relationship and spots a lonely heart’s ad in a newspaper, replies with his own (as he does like Piña Coladas), and the couple finds that they have cheated on each other with each other. It’s a plot line that wouldn’t be out of place in an Adam Sandler movie.
9/10 “Babe” – Styx
Big Daddy (1999)
Adam Sandler’s Sonny Koufax adopts a young Cole and Dylan Sprouse both playing ‘Frankenstein’, the name that his fun Dad lets him choose for himself in Big Daddy. “Babe” plays when Sonny is romancing Joey Lauren Adam’s Layla at his apartment, and they bond over Styx being their favorite band. He brags to her that once Styx got him up on stage to do the robot voice for “Mr. Roboto,” however, he’s only kidding.
This is likely a true fantasy of Sandler himself, as he is known for occasionally playing characters that are an extension of his real-life persona. The band indeed features two more times on the Big Daddy soundtrack and also previously in Billy Madison.
8/10 “Working For The Weekend” – Loverboy
Another ’80s classic, “Working for the Weekend” appears in the 2000s classic comedy, Click, in which a family man discovers a magic remote that allows him to control his life to his every desire. It hilariously plays as Adam Sandler’s character is driving to work with his newfound abilities, and encounters a hyped-up Terry Crews enthusiastically singing along to this cheesy rock song alongside him in traffic. After a brief chuckle, he simply mutes him.
The song fits his hilarious singing brilliantly, as Sandler and Crews likely deliberated on which would be the funniest. Crews has appeared in six of his films, beginning with The Longest Yard, and recently commented to People that Sandler “gave [him] a career.” Sandler has certainly given him some great moments, and this cameo is no different.
7/10 “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
50 First Dates (2004)
In 50 First Dates, Sandler’s Henry falls for Drew Barrymore’s Lucy who loses her memory each night. By the end of the film, he has won her and her family over and plays to her each day which recounts her life since her accident and meeting him. This cover of ‘Over The Rainbow’ from The Wizard Of Oz is by Hawaiian legend Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and it plays over the ending as Lucy watches her video and emerges atop a boat to meet her husband and daughter.
The song is a delight and makes a perfect closing tune to the Hawaii set film. The soundtrack features many relaxed jams from Bob Marley and Jason Mraz, but this cover is a perfect example, consisting of only ukulele and Kamakawiwo’ole’s soulful voice.
6/10 “Tuesdays Gone” – Lynard Skynard
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Wacky sports comedy Happy Gilmore follows Adam Sandler’s slacker of the same name, as he transitions from hockey to golf to win huge prizes in order to win his beloved grandmother’s house back. Often remembered for its iconic Bob Barker fight, Happy Gilmore features a few deaths; not victorious Bob’s of course. He loses his mentor Chubbs in a freak slapstick accident and also hunts down the golf ball-swallowing crocodile that resides in the course’s lake.
This song plays as the film ends, as he takes his grandma into her newly bought house with his new love Julie Bowen in tow. In the sky is Chubbs, the crocodile and Abraham Lincoln waving down blissfully from heaven. It’s a truly driving off into the sunset kind of song, bittersweet and relaxing as Happy Gilmore comes to a close.
5/10 “Let My Love Open The Door” – Pete Townsend
Mr. Deeds (2002)
This song sums up the easy-going vibes of Mr. Deeds perfectly, it’s hard not to be when he discovers he has inherited $40 million from his great Uncle. It plays over the trailer for the film and also as he romances a reporter posing as a kind-hearted school nurse, Winona Ryder.
It’s a classically upbeat tune from The Who members’ solo career, whose lyrics mirror the small town naïveté of Mr Deeds. The song is also a favorite of movie music departments, having featured in Jersey Girl, Along Came Polly and Look Who’s Talking as well as a multitude of others.
4/10 “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – The Beach Boys
50 First Dates (2004)
A second from 50 First Dates, this bittersweet song would be impossible not to include. The music of The Beach Boys is one of the most utilized discographies in film, and this movie makes great use of this classic. When Henry’s plan to woo Lucy starts to all go wrong, an inevitable setback since she literally cannot remember that he exists from one day to the next, he pulls out his Beach Boys CD and sings along to this song on his boat.
It’s probably comforting for him, but a little funny for the audience as the lyrics are so on the nose. It tells the classic heartbreaking story of right person wrong time, making for a perfect song for Henry to sob along to.
3/10 “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer features many classic songs, actually sung by Adam Sandler himself as part of his performance as Robbie Hart, a wedding singer by trade of course. Set in 1985, this includes ’80s pop classics “Holiday” by Madonna, “You Spin Me Round” by Dead Or Alive, as well as Sandler’s own original song “Grow Old With Me.”
This classic by British band The Police plays as Drew Barrymore’s Julia takes him out for ice cream, as he becomes more and more besotted with her. It’s a charming song that highlights how it feels to fall in love, and it’s extremely ’80s, in keeping with the rest of the film.
2/10 “Magic” – Pilot
Happy Gilmore (1996)
The second Happy Gilmore song on this list, and another to include the word magic. This ’70s song by Scottish pop rock band, Pilot, is yet another example of unabashed joy within Sander soundtracks. With an upbeat vibe to rival other soundtrack classics such as Hall And Oats’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” and Katrina and the Waves’ Walking On Sunshine, the song is happiness bottled.
It plays as he wins a prize in his very first tournament, by thinking of his sweet grandma and all the things he’s done for him over the years. It matches his joy as he wins, and the lyrics convey how his surprise talent for golf feels like magic.
1/10 “Dunkaccino” – Al Pacino
Jack And Jill (2011)
“Dunkaccino? Don’t mind if I do!” Al Pacino closes Jack And Jill with a fake commercial video for Dunkin’ Donuts, a client for advertising executive Jack. Synonymous with the downfall of the Sandler comedy, the 2011 film follows two twins, both played by Adam Sandler as Jill moves in with his family.
A much memed sequence from a much memed film, the song is an over-the-top saving grace for a film that has 3% on Rotten Tomatoes. The song/rap written for the film is undeniably catchy and will go down in history as one of Al Pacino’s most iconic moments.