Role: The A-Hole
Films: Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Grown Ups, The Benchwarmers
So Who the Hell is He: This may sound bad, but had Chris Farley never died, I think David Spade would be a comedy legend. The two of them together made for a classic comedy duo, because by themselves (or with Matthew Perry) they were, well, just themselves. But that’s not to say that I don’t thoroughly enjoy most of Spade’s efforts. He may be the one guy in Happy Madison’s stable that knows what his strengths are – mostly just being a sarcastic dick – and plays on them.
Spade is hardly leading man material – he’s reportedly 3 apples high – but even his worst films (Dickie Roberts was atrocious) still have a little charm to them. For instance, I don’t know any people who dislike Joe Dirt. I don’t think it’s a good movie by any means, but I don’t hate it. He knows what we expect from him and he never tries to overcompensate. For most people that’s a terrible trait, but up against his peers it’s a godsend.
Role: The Black Guy
Films: Head of State, Bad Company, Grown Ups, The Longest Yard
So Who the Hell is He: Rock has never really been one of the usual suspects in Happy Madison’s gang. In fact, aside from Beverly Hills Ninja, he never had much to do with his former SNL cohorts until he appeared in The Longest Yard, Sandler’s unnecessary remake of the 1970s classic. I’d argue that Rock deserved an Oscar for his role in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, but aside from that, he’s not a good actor. At all. Bad Company may be one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, and proof that Anthony Hopkins sold his soul to Lucipher.
My gut tells me that fried anything is delicious, but it also tells me that Rock’s involvement in The Longest Yard and Grown Ups was more about the paycheck than his friendship with Sandler. He’ll always have selling power and name recognition, which may suggest that Sandler needs him more than the other way around.
Role: The Fat Guy
Films: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Hitch, Zookeeper
So Who the Hell is He: While I don’t remember it at all, James made his first appearance with the Happy Madison clan in 50 First Dates. Admittedly, that’s one of Sandler’s rare movies that I can tolerate when it’s being aired non-stop on TBS. Since then, James became a full-timer with I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which I think was actually a step backwards in the equal rights movement, and he has of course relegated himself to a career of cheap “Haha the fat guy fell down” jokes.
Back in 2001, James released the stand-up comedy special, “Sweat the Small Stuff.” If you’ve never seen it, I think it’s available on Netflix, but I really enjoyed it. He’s a funny comedian, which just goes to show that stand-up doesn’t always translate well to movies. However, criticism be damned, because people will always love humor of the lowest common denominator, so James will always be gleefully employed.
UPDATE 2: As wonderful commenter Beeks informed me, the Happy Madison offices were right next door to the set of “The King of Queens,” so that’s how Sandler and James hooked up. That reminds me – how was a show that had Jerry Stiller and Patton Oswalt not funny?