My father taught me long ago by example that adulthood was a fairly grim calling — a state of mind that allowed for very little joy or spontaneity, that was mainly about duty and drudgery and — although he’s been in AA since the mid ’70s — a fair amount of drinking on weeknights and weekends. So I’ve been fairly averse to the idea of fulfilling my father’s idea of adulthood for most of my life.
from Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan
But sometimes I feel as if the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, as N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott points out in this piece about perpetual male adolesence as exemplifed by Adam Sandler‘s screen roles.
Adam Sandler, who will turn 42 on September 9th, “did not invent the archetype of the overgrown man-child, which has been around at least since the silent era,” Scott writes. “Nor has [he] been alone, over the past 15 years or so, in turning male infantile aggression into the basis of a lucrative and long-running movie career. The male rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy, even (or perhaps especially) in movies whose sexual frankness makes them officially unsuitable for children.
“Occasionally you will see a functioning if beleaguered dad, usually a widower, like Steve Carell’s character in Dan in Real Life. And sometimes, as in Little Miss Sunshine, a coeducational, multigenerational ensemble will carry the therapeutic and satirical burdens of the genre. But far more often the center of attention will be a guy, his buddies and his toys. He will, most of the time, be nudged toward responsibility, forgiven for his quirks and nurtured in his needs and neuroses by a woman who represents an ideal amalgam of supermodel and mom.
“It would be hypocritical of me to dismiss the appeal of this fantasy and silly to deny that a lot of these movies manage to be both very funny and disarmingly insightful about the male psyche. But I suspect I’m not alone in growing weary of the relentless contemplation of that psyche in its infantile state, and of the endless celebration of arrested development as a social entitlement.”