We all love Adam Sandler.
Whether he’s shooting hoops or revolutionizing menswear by effortlessly bringing back oversized shorts, the prolific comedian is the Internet’s princess and is nothing short of a timeless icon. And while you might scoff or write off any fan of his movies as “uncultured,” you have to admit that it’s pretty impressive that one person’s managed to carve out an entire genre for himself just by being a meme.
We all know and understand what an “Adam Sandler movie” is. The unspoken rules include having a Rob Schneider or Kevin James cameo, an A-list female lead for a love interest that Sandler woos on an island, and cringey, yet funny, raunchy jokes you feel bad laughing at. Has Meryl Steep managed to create a new genre of movies by simply starring in them? Nope. Has Leonardo DiCaprio? Also no. But Sandler has, and whatever you may think, that’s a righteous feat in and of itself.
From industry favorites like Uncut Gems to the criminally underrated like Hotel Transylvania, we’ve sifted through Sandler’s catalog and ranked his 13 best films for your movie-watching pleasure. But let’s be honest: You’ve probably watched at least one of these over five times already.
13. Just Go With It (2011)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Bailee Madison, Nicole Kidman
How to Watch: Just Go With It is streaming on Netflix.
Is Just Go With It Sandler’s best movie? No, but it does pack on the punches we all know and love. Pairing Sandler with one of his best onscreen partners, Jennifer Aniston, Just Go With It follows a sleazy bachelor, Danny (Sandler), who pretends to be married so he can enjoy reckless “affairs” with no strings attached. But his scheme quickly goes awry when he finds himself having to actually pretend to be married to his coworker, Katherine (Aniston), to woo the blonde bombshell of his dreams, Palmer (Decker). As the lie spins out of control, hilarious antics and a not-so surprising plot twist ensue. Some may write off Just Go With It as a remixed version of 50 First Dates, but if we’re being honest, there’s nothing better than yet another Adam Sandler rom-com set in Hawaii. —Yasmeen Hamadeh
12. Click (2006)
Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, David Hasselhoff, Sean Astin
How to Watch: Click is streaming on Max.
Amid Adam Sandler’s extensive filmography is his 2006 project Click, which undoubtedly stands out as a hidden gem often overlooked in the discussion of his best works. The movie follows Michael Newman (Sandler), a workaholic who stumbles upon a magical universal remote that allows him to manipulate time itself. After fast-forwarding through critical moments in his life, Newman soon learns there are consequences to his actions.
What makes Click one of Sandler’s best films is its ability to balance humor, heart, and a poignant message. It tackles themes of work-life balance, the importance of valuing precious time with loved ones, and the consequences of neglecting those who matter most. It’s a film that ultimately reminds us all to hit pause every now and then, to cherish the moments that matter, and to appreciate the comedian’s remarkable ability to make us laugh and self-reflect at the same time. —Jacob Kramer
11. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (2008)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Rob Schneider, Emmanuelle Chirqui, Nick Swardson, Lainie Kazan
How to Watch: You Don’t Mess With the Zohan is streaming on Prime Video and Apple TV+.
The first time I saw You Don’t Mess With the Zohan in theaters, I really hated it. It wasn’t until my second viewing at home and on my couch (the best place to watch any Adam Sandler movie), that I recognized how hilarious it was. Each and every stereotype portrayed in this movie is completely spot on and laugh-out-loud funny. Sandler would almost certainly have a difficult time getting the Zohan character green lit in today’s climate, but it was perfect for 2008. Sandler’s chemistry with the film’s villain, The Phantom, played by John Turturro, is next level. On top of all of that, Fizzy Bubblech has got to be on the top of my list for fictional food/drink items I want to consume, right up there with the Krabby Patty. —Ben Felderstein
10. Murder Mystery (2019)
Director: Kyle Newacheck
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton
How to Watch: Murder Mystery is streaming on Netflix.
Murder Mystery is one of Adam Sandler’s more recent releases, and while it still incorporates some of his signature humor, it showcases his maturity as a more seasoned actor. Released in 2019, the Netflix original stars Sandler alongside Jennifer Aniston as a married couple who become entangled in a murder investigation while taking a delayed honeymoon in Europe. It’s a typical whodunit story, but what makes it refreshing is Sandler and Aniston’s undeniable chemistry and comedic timing.
The duo effortlessly feed off of each other, delivering witty one-liners and playful banter that add another dimension of humor and suspense. The only comedic duo that could rival this pairing would be Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
What separates this film from previous works is that Sandler was 53 years old at the time of its release. Whereas some of his previous works were more physical, his performance in Murder Mystery relies more so on his vocal delivery and timing. Sandler also does a great job of balancing humor and suspense, all the while giving space to the comedic efforts of his co-stars. Ultimately, Murder Mystery is a great addition to his filmography. It’s also a great watch during spooky season for fans of comedy thrillers. —Jessica McKinney
9. Grown Ups (2010)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph
How to Watch: Grown Ups is streaming on Hulu.
Grown Ups is a classic. Pairing Sandler with longtime collaborator Dennis Dugan, the film follows five old friends who reunite over a 4th of July weekend to mourn the loss of their high school basketball coach. From touching upon Sandler’s love for hoops to relishing in over-the-top hijinks, the film checks all the Sandler staples we know and adore. But its real triumphing asset is its absolute hilarious cast that reunites Sandler with his best comedic ensemble and even some of his fellow SNL alums: Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Chris Rock. It helps that the fivesome are all close friends in real life, and watching their comedic chemistry onscreen is an absolute joy. It’s never a bad time for a Grown Ups rewatch. —Yasmeen Hamadeh
8. Billy Madison (1995)
Adam Sandler made his debut as a leading man in the 1995 classic Billy Madison. Sandler’s character, the eponymous, wealthy man-child who’s forced to repeat every grade from elementary to high school, goes on a journey of self-discovery as he seeks to inherit his father’s business empire. What follows is a riotous journey filled with unforgettable gags, absurd scenarios, and Sandler’s signature comedic delivery.
Billy Madison stands out as one of Sandler’s greatest hits for a multitude of reasons. The film itself revels in its over-the-top humor, with Sandler perfectly portraying an oddly childish yet endearing character and delivering one incredible joke after another. It’s warm, funny, and relatable at its core. It also stands as a testament to Sandler’s comedic genius, cementing his status as a comedy icon and ultimately serving as a launchpad for his illustrious career in Hollywood. —Jacob Kramer
7. Uncut Gems (2019)
Director: Josh and Benny Safdie
Starring: Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian
How to Watch: Uncut Gems is streaming on Showtime, Paramount+, and Prime Video.
It goes without saying that Uncut Gems is a polarizing watch. Some dub the film a masterpiece, and others have written it off as a two-hour anxiety attack compressed into a film. If you’re like me and you fell in love with the film’s haywire crescendo into its final act, you’ll know why it deserves a spot in Sandler’s best films of all time.
In Uncut Gems, Sandler plays a gems dealer who gambles it all in a life or death bet, with the film largely following how the latter unfolds. While I admit that Uncut Gems isn’t for everyone, its cynically outrageous ending might make the film worth your while, and Sandler’s acting chops uniquely shine through in this one especially. Rather than trying to find a “point” to Uncut Gems, walk into the film prepared to see the most chaotic slice-of-life ever, and you just might appreciate it more than you think. —Yasmeen Hamadeh
6. Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Molly Shannon
How to Watch: Hotel Transylvania is streaming on Hulu.
Is Hotel Transylvania exclusively an Adam Sandler film? No, but it does star Sandler in arguably one of his best roles. The animated film, which landed Sandler a whole franchise, follows Count Dracula (voiced by Sandler) as he runs his hotel for monsters where mayhem and mischief ensue. It’s funny. It’s heartfelt. It features Sandler doing some of his goofiest voicework ever. And it’s unironically so good. The third film, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, is by far the franchise’s best, and you’re never too old to watch a brilliantly dumb animated movie that just might even make you shed a tear or two. —Yasmeen Hamadeh
5. Big Daddy (1999)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Stewart, Rob Schneider, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse, Leslie Mann
How to Watch: Big Daddy is streaming on Prime Video, Apple TV+, and AMC+.
Big Daddy doesn’t fall in line with Adam Sandler’s goofy brand of humor that he’s displayed in other films like The Waterboy or Happy Gilmore, but it’s still a classic nonetheless. The Dennis Dugan–directed film depicts Sandler as Sonny Koufax, an irresponsible bachelor who unexpectedly becomes the guardian of a young boy. What makes this performance so memorable and impressive is Sandler’s ability to combine humor with the relatable struggles of parenting. In addition to the well-crafted script, the film also hinges on the endearing chemistry between Sandler’s Sonny and his adoptive son, Julian (played expertly by Dylan and Cole Sprouse). The classic scene of Scuba Steve explaining why Julian should take baths is among one of the most endearing scenes in the film. Big Daddy is another classic Adam Sandler film because it establishes his talent as a versatile actor, capable of delivering moments beyond comedy and tapping into emotions that appeal to a wider audience. —Jessica McKinney
4. The Longest Yard (2005)
Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly, William Fichtner, Burt Reynolds, Joey Diaz, Terry Crews
How to Watch: The Longest Yard is streaming on Paramount+ and Prime Video.
A Saturday afternoon during my childhood didn’t go by without The Longest Yard airing on TNT, TBS, or USA. It seemed like every time I was flipping through the channels, there was Adam Sandler as Paul Crewe leading a group of misfit convicts in a football game against the prison guards. The best part about this movie is that it’s one of those films where you can just jump in at any scene and not miss a single beat. Whether it's the scene with Terry Crews doing his whole McDonald’s routine on the basketball court, the many hilarious moments during football training, or the actual game itself, there are not too many dull moments in this prison comedy. It’s definitely a unique sports story, and it’s impossible not to have fun with this one. —Ben Felderstein
3. 50 First Dates (2004)
Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin, Dan Aykroyd
How to Watch: 50 First Dates is streaming on Hulu.
There’s no arguing that 50 First Dates comfortably rests in the top-five Adam Sandler movies of all time. The rom-com ticks off all the boxes you’d want from any Sandler film. A love interest that’s way out of his league? Check. Hilarious antics on an island? Check. A Rob Schneider cameo? Check, check, and check. If you haven’t seen 50 First Dates for some reason, the film follows a sleazy bachelor, Henry (Sandler), who falls in love with a woman suffering from short-term memory loss, Lucy (Drew Barrymore), and is determined to be with her no matter what it takes. It’s equal parts funny as it is heartfelt, and it is honestly Sandler at his best: a lovable goofball packing on as much R-rated jokes as he is romance. A 10/10 classic on all ends. —Yasmeen Hamadeh
2. The Waterboy (1998)
The Waterboy is easily one of the most quintessential Adam Sandler movies and one of his funniest cinematic achievements to date. In the Frank Coraci–directed film, Sandler demonstrates his knack for playing memorable endearing characters as Bobby Boucher, a water boy turned football sensation. His ability to effortlessly depict Boucher as both a naive mama’s boy and a vicious, athletic powerhouse onscreen is a testament to his acting skill. The Waterboy is also a great lesson in incorporating slapstick humor with genuine emotional themes.
While the film delivers countless LOL moments, it also explores themes of self-empowerment and independence, as Bobby overcomes bullying and the control of his overprotective mother. Aside from Sandler’s performance, the supporting cast, which includes Henry Winkler as Coach Klein and Kathy Bates as Bobby’s overbearing mama, also add depth and another layer to the film’s overall comedic focus. Twenty-five years since its release, The Waterboy is considered a cultural moment, thanks to its memorable quotes and characters that are still referenced in pop culture today. There’s a reason why rappers like Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and more have referenced Boucher in their songs. Sandler’s brand of comedy shines through in this film, making it a must-see for any viewers looking to get acquainted with his work. —Jessica McKinney
1. The Wedding Singer (1998)
Are you even surprised? Largely hailed by many to be Sandler’s best comedy, The Wedding Singer is arguably the birthplace of the “Adam Sandler movie,” cementing the staples we all love to see in his other films. If you haven’t seen The Wedding Singer, the film pairs Sandler with his other favorite leading lady besides Aniston–-Drew Barrymore—and follows him as he tries to win her heart despite her getting married to another man. Sure, it may not be Sandler’s funniest film in the face of other raunchier comedies like Grown Ups, but The Wedding Singer may as well be why Sandler came to crown the hilarious and heartfelt rom-com. The only reason we expect Sandler to play lovable goofballs pining after women way out of his league is because of The Wedding Singer, and that in and of itself makes it the best Adam Sandler movie ever. —Yasmeen Hamadeh