Adam Sandler Honored with Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize

Actor and comedian Adam Sandler waves as he is awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, US, March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Actor and comedian Adam Sandler waves as he is awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, US, March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
TT

Adam Sandler Honored with Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize

Actor and comedian Adam Sandler waves as he is awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, US, March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Actor and comedian Adam Sandler waves as he is awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, US, March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Actor and comedian Adam Sandler became the 24th recipient of the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday, at an evening event featuring stars Jennifer Aniston, Chris Rock and Conan O’Brien to celebrate his comedy and career.

Sandler, whose movies include "Spanglish," "The Wedding Singer," and "The Waterboy," was celebrated for his comedic chops that, while not always winning the hearts of critics, have won over fans and generated billions of dollars, Reuters reported.

Dressed uncharacteristically in business attire instead of his trademark shorts and T-shirt, Sandler, 56, said he thought his suit was baggy.

"I don't know if this suit fits me or not, I just threw it on ... for the second time," he told reporters on the red carpet ahead of the show. "But everything else ... the honor itself, never thought about this in my entire life, never expected anything like this."

Comedian Dana Carvey referred to Sandler's longevity. "No one's had a career like this," Carvey told reporters ahead of the show. "Who's lasted this long? He's beloved."

Sandler's friends and acting partners, along with his mother and his wife, took to the Kennedy Center stage to gently rib the actor and highlight his development as a stand-up comic, movie actor and singer.

"You're making a terrible, terrible mistake," comedian O'Brien quipped at the top of the show to the Kennedy Center for selecting Sandler, a former "Saturday Night Live" star.

Sandler's mother, Judy, made light of his wardrobe preferences. "I say he's a slob," she said in her own quasi- comedy routine, before praising her son. "We are so proud of him."

Comedian David Spade expressed mock awe at Sandler's box office success. "Four billion dollars in movies, with this much talent!" Spade said, with a hand gesture that suggested a minute amount.

Aniston, who appeared with Sandler in films such as "Just Go with It" and Netflix's "Murder Mystery," praised her co-star. "Adam Sandler, you have no equal," she said.



Movie Review: ‘Tuesday,’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Is Strange, Emotional and Fiercely Original

 This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
TT

Movie Review: ‘Tuesday,’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Is Strange, Emotional and Fiercely Original

 This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)

Death has taken many forms in cinema. It’s been Bengt Ekerot. Ian McKellen. John Cleese. Even Brad Pitt with blonde highlights. But in “Tuesday,” filmmaker Daina O. Pusić's bold, fantastical and affecting debut, death looks like a lot like a macaw that's seen better days.

Covered in a thick layer of grime and oil with patches of feathers missing, “Tuesday’s” Death can be as big as a room or as small as an ear canal. Its booming, gravelly voice (that of actor Arinzé Kene) sounds ancient and otherworldly. And it all adds up to something profoundly unsettling. Not exactly a comforting welcome into the afterlife, or whatever comes next.

“Tuesday,” expanding nationwide Friday, is about death, and acceptance, between a mother and her dying daughter. But this is no Hallmark affair fitting for a sympathy card. It is prickly, wry, somewhat unsentimental, a bit gritty and awfully painful at times. Or maybe it’s just uniquely British. And you may just find yourself in a puddle of your own tears as a result.

Now, in terms of cinematic emotional blackmail, a parent coming to terms with a child’s imminent death is pretty much in the red zone. That sort of setup could produce involuntary tears from an audience regardless of the level of talent involved. Thankfully for us, there is immense creativity and vision both in front of and behind the camera, including not just the writer-director but the special effects experts responsible for Death as well as the haunting and innovative sound design.

Lola Petticrew plays the titular Tuesday, a teen with a “Breathless” pixie cut, a love of jokes and rap music and a terminal illness that has bound her to an oxygen tank and the use of a wheelchair. Her mother, Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), has entirely disconnected from the situation. She tiptoes around the house waiting for the nurse, Billie (a lovely Leah Harvey), to do the caretaking. She stays out all day, pawning household items for cash to pay for the care, ignoring Tuesday’s calls and occasionally falling asleep on park benches. At home, she doesn’t want to talk to Tuesday about anything real — the death, her job, their precarious financial position — it’s all been deeply repressed and compartmentalized and is making everyone crazy.

The day we meet Zora and Tuesday is the day Death arrives. Billie has left Tuesday on the patio for just a minute to start a bath. All of a sudden, the girl who was just joking around is having an episode, gasping for air, when the macaw lands by her side. Death is actually the first character introduced, in an unnerving series of deaths setting an ominous tone that will loom throughout. Some are ready to go, begging for relief. Some are just scared. And all have the same outcome once he’s put his wing around them.

Tuesday, however, decides to tell a joke. This disarms Death (who bursts out laughing) and suddenly they’re in conversation together. She gives him a bath, puts on some music and asks a favor: She’d like to say goodbye to her mom first. Death obliges.

Of course, the story both is and isn’t that simple. “Tuesday” becomes some strange combination of body horror, fairy tale, domestic drama and apocalypse thriller. It is weird and transfixing — never predictable and never boring. Louis-Dreyfus is both chilling and deeply empathetic as this woman who has been paralyzed by grief even before it’s happened. She seems to be preparing for her own death in a way, unable and unwilling to process a life without her daughter who, at this point, doesn’t even realize that her mother still loves her. Petticrew holds her own, going head-to-head with Louis-Dreyfus at her cruelest, exhibiting a wisdom beyond her years and fitting of a person who’s had to grow up and face death far too early.

“Tuesday” is ultimately a cathartic affair, whether death is top of mind at the moment or not. And it announces the arrival of a daring filmmaker worth following.