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Adam Sandler Had to Stop Reading ‘Billy Madison’ Reviews: ‘It’s So Harsh’

"We read the first one and we were like, 'Oh my god, what happened? They hate us,'" Sandler said of the initial critical response.

Billy Madison

“Billy Madison”


Adam Sandler got a rude awakening when it came to the critical reception of his films.

The 1995 film “Billy Madison,” the first feature Sandler co-wrote with longtime collaborator Tim Herlihy, received “harsh” reviews, leading Sandler to rethink reading critics’ work in the first place.

“When I was 17 and I got into this, I didn’t think about critics,” Sandler said during a Netflix conversation for the acclaimed film “Hustle” (via Entertainment Weekly). “I didn’t even realize that stuff was coming. I just thought you made movies, people go see it.”

Sandler continued, “When ‘Billy Madison’ came out, me and my friend who wrote it, we were just like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re going to write about this in New York!’ We grew up reading the papers, we were going to NYU. And then we read the first one and we were like, ‘Oh my god, what happened? They hate us.’ And then we were like, ‘It must have been this paper,’ but then 90 percent of the papers are going, ‘This is garbage.'”

The “Uncut Gems” star admitted that the bad reviews “stung” because “you know your grandmother’s reading it.” Eventually, he decided that “maybe we shouldn’t read this stuff because it’s so harsh.”

Yet the negative feedback continued to plague Sandler’s comedies.

“I say the first two or three, ‘Happy Gilmore,’ ‘The Wedding Singer,’ we would still kinda hear about it,” Sandler said. “People would call us up, ‘Can you believe they said this about you?’ I’d be like, ‘I didn’t read it, man.'”

However, all’s well that ends well, according to the newly minted Gotham Award Performer Tribute recipient.

“It’s great, everything has turned out excellent,” Sandler said. “And it’s OK, I get it. Critics aren’t going to connect with certain stuff and what they want to see. I understand that it’s not clicking with them.”

Earlier this year, Sandler shared that bad reviews for his ensemble comedies, infamously leading him to threaten to make a “Grown-Ups 4,” added an extra weight on his shoulders.

“Mostly because I invite all these amazing people I care about to make movies with me, and I wish they didn’t have to read shit about whatever we’ve made,” Sandler said of co-starring with his real-life pals. “But I don’t get too shook up. I always remember something my father said. I recall one time that something didn’t go right for me. I bombed onstage or didn’t get an audition. I was upset and probably embarrassed. And he said, ‘Adam, you can’t always be happy. People aren’t always going to like you. You’re going to fail.’ I said, ‘But I just want to be happy, man. I don’t want all that other crap.’ He said, “You won’t actually know you’re happy if you don’t feel that other stuff.’”

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