Adam Sandler’s performance in “Hustle” once again reminds viewers that he is a great actor, despite the fact that the filmography is full of bad films. Despite the fact that Adam Sandler burst onto the scene in 1990 with Saturday Night Live and starred in several popular comedies of the 90s and 00s, Adam Sandler’s career has taken a different path in recent years. He went almost all in on a deal with Netflix to shoot and star in comedies that often get a lot of viewers, but terrible reviews. This career choice has been repeatedly questioned, as some have even wondered if the comedian’s talent has been preserved.
Despite what his harshest critics might say, it’s hard to honestly blame Sandler for choosing a career. Thanks to streaming, he is now as big a star as he was in the 1990s (if not more). However, this does not mean that he is really happy with the fact that he shoots the same comedies, which take place in exotic places, and the main roles are played by his best friends. Mostly refraining from dramatic roles, Hustle is another example of Adam Sandler moving away from the silly family comedies with which he has become associated lately. In the 2022 Netflix original film, he plays the role of an NBA scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, who discovers the international potential of the generation. Thanks to Hustle, Adam Sandler once again reminds everyone what he is capable of.
Hustle is very different from the rest of Adam Sandler’s films on Netflix, as he used his passion project about basketball to show another excellent dramatic performance. He is one of the main reasons why the film works as well as it does, as his starring role elevates a sports film, which at times can be formulaic, to a higher quality. “Hustle” director Jeremiah Tan relies on Sandler for most of the emotional weight of the film, and he ultimately pulled it off. Whether it’s scenes like him urging Beau Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez) to fight for his dreams or explaining what happened to Adam Sandler’s hand, Hustle gives the star plenty of room to showcase his talents.
One of the keys to Adam Sandler’s outstanding performance in Hustle is that the film uses the full range of his abilities. The tone may be much more dramatic than in some of his other Netflix films, but Hustle retains plenty of comedic elements and moments. Sandler is allowed to be funny, like Stanley Sugerman, but at times he is much more serious. It makes sense for the film to use this approach, as it meant Adam Sandler could handle most of the film’s most important acting scenes, while the real NBA players involved in Hustle mostly stick to playing basketball.
Those who really follow Adam Sandler’s career know that he is a great actor. “The Singer at the Wedding” spoke for the first time about his dramatic acting abilities, and “Uncut Jewels” in 2019 became a clear reminder of what a powerful performance Sandler is capable of. His role as Howard Ratner in the Safdie Brothers film caused a stir around the Sandler Awards, but he failed to get a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Hustle is not exactly the type of performance that will trigger similar conversations. It’s a clear reminder that he’s capable of more than his recent track record of making underwhelming comedies shows.