Thoughts on Hanukkah in 2021

History is more than a series of dry events written in a book. If we are able to understand what our predecessors have gone through, then perhaps we will finally learn from their actions.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.

One of the things that strikes me this year is that it feels more relevant than ever. With antisemitism on the rise, it’s not difficult to see the parallels between what we are going through in 2021 and the Maccabee’s fight for religious freedom. As the United States is potentially stumbling into autocracy and away from democracy and religious pluralism, this story is more than important than ever.

If you celebrate, wherever you are, have a Happy Hanukkah.

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Uncut Gems Movie Review

Life is a gamble. Every choice we make is a gamble. But at a certain point, most people know what is a good gamble and what is a bad gamble. The question is, can we recognize what is a good gamble and what is a bad gamble?

In the new movie, Uncut Gems, Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a business owner in New York City’s Diamond District. He sells jewelry to the rich and famous. Howard’s life is akin to walking a tightrope. He is a compulsive gambler who loves basketball and makes bets on games worth six figures. His gambling is getting him in trouble as his losses pile up and those who he owes money to are looking to get their money back.

Howard’s personal life is just as much of a tightrope as his professional life. Though he is married to Dinah (Idina Menzel) and they have three children, Howard has a girlfriend on the side, Julia (Julia Fox).

The bets he is making are becoming more precarious and more dangerous. Will his gamble pay off?

This is an interesting film. If the audience goes into the film expecting the man-child character Sandler played in the mid-90’s, they would be surprised. Howard is a complicated character, driven by the need to gamble, but also playing the role of husband and father.

I don’t know about this film. Howard is not an unlikeable character, but he is highly flawed and makes questionable decisions. Though it is obvious that Sandler is stretching himself as an actor, I still kind of prefer the man-child of the past.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Uncut Gems is presently in theaters.

Flashback Friday- The Waterboy (1998)

A good parents wants what is best for their child. But sometimes, even a good parent forgets that their children must grow up eventually.

In the 1998 movie, The Waterboy, Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) is the waterboy for the local college team. Living under the thumb of Mama Boucher (Kathy Bates), his overbearing mother, Bobby does not have much of a life. Then Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), the football team’s coach notices that Bobby has a natural gift for the game.

But Bobby knows this his mother won’t approve. She will also not approve of his new girlfriend, Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk). Will Bobby be able to live as he wants to live or will his mother continue to control his life?

This movie is an interesting film. It represents a subtle, but important change in Sandler’s career. Bobby has shades of the man-boys that Sandler played in previous films in the 90’s, but he also has a maturity and a perspective that is more man than man-boy.

I recommend it.

Adam Sandler’s Tribute to Chris Farley was Perfection

No one knows you like your friends. On the same token, no one misses you when your gone more than your friends.

Last night, Adam Sandler hosted Saturday Night Live. It was the first time he had stepped onto the SNL stage since the mid 90’s.

Towards the end of the episode, Sandler paid tribute to his late friend and colleague, Chris Farley.

The song was as beautiful and sentimental as it was heart-wrenching.

Farley was more than a comedic genius and the comedy heir to the late John Belushi. He had a heart of gold and a honest desire to make people laugh. There was a joy to his performances that radiated from the stage to the audience.

My favorite Chris Farley sketch is Matt Foley: Van Down By The River.

RIP Chris, thanks for the laugh and thank you Adam for the memories.

Throwback Thursday-Click (2006)

Life for most of us is busy. Between our jobs, our families and everything else that is going on, we forget to breathe and enjoy being alive.

In the 2006 movie, Click, Ben Newman (Adam Sandler) is trying to achieve a work/life balance, but that is seeming more impossible as the days go on. In order to receive a very desirable promotion, Ben is working his tail off for his hard to please boss, Ammer (David Hasselhoff). But that means less time with his wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale) and their family. He wishes for a remote to control his life. Enter Morty (Christopher Walker) a salesman who sells Ben the remote he desires. Ben thinks he can control the remote, but then remote turns on him.

Growing out of the various man-child characters that made him a star, Sandler proves that he has grown as an actor. While he can easily play comedy,he shows that he has the chops to play a mature character going on a mature journey.

I recommend it.


Flashback Friday-Mr. Deeds (2002)

The fish out of water story is a common one. But at its core, it’s a simple story. It’s up to the writer to make sure that their narrative stands out.

In the 2002 film, Mr. Deeds, Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler) is a small town pizzeria owner/poet. Then he finds out that he is the heir to the fortune of a deceased uncle and moves to the big city. Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder) is a tabloid reporter who pretends to be a small town girl to get the scoop on the town’s newest billionaire. Babe expects merely to get her story and move on. Longfellow expects that his new-found fortune would change him. But as they say, mortals plan, G-d laughs.

A reboot of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, Mr. Deeds attempts to update the narrative for the 21st century. Unfortunately, this is is a paltry remake that nearly ruins the reputation if it’s predecessor.

Do I recommend it? No.


Tonight, Jews around the world will be celebrating the holiday of Chanukah.

The joke about Chanukah is the joke that revolves around most Jewish holidays: they tried to kill us, they failed, now lets eat.

One of the things I’ve come to believe in recent years is that if we are willing to do the work required to achieve our goals, our creator will give us a nudge when we need it.

The Maccabees, led by Judah, did not wait for a sign from a prophet or their creator to fight back against the Greeks who would have been more than happy to see the Jews convert and assimilate into the general population. They took a stand against assimilation and won. In response the victory, G-d provided Israel with just enough oil to last for eight days, even though it seemed like there was none left at all.

Happy Chanukah and to everyone celebrating Christmas tonight, Merry Christmas.

Flashback Friday-Anger Management (2003)

There are some actors that can surprise an audience. We think we know the characters that they will play, but sometimes, they step away from that archetype and into a brand new character.

In Anger Management (2003), Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler), is a nice guy with no backbone.  When an encounter on an airplane goes horribly wrong, Dave is sentenced to anger management classes. The doctor assigned to him is Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson). Dr. Rydell is unpredictable and unorthodox in his methods. As Dr. Rydell becomes more ingrained in Dave’s life, he seems to be the only one who can help Dave grow the pair that he desperately needs to grow.

Up until this movie, Adam Sandler played characters who while they were physically grown, they had the emotional maturity of a 14 year old boy. In this movie, he steps out of that mold and into the shoes of a man who is not quite sure of himself. As Dr. Rydell, the audience may wonder what is up with Jack Nicholson’s character. Is he onto something or is just plain crazy?

I recommend it.

Flashback Friday- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

There is nothing that we would not do for our friends. Even if that includes pretending to be a same sex couple so that that friend can receive domestic partner benefits.

In 2007’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Chuck (Adam Sandler) and Larry (Kevin James) are friends and colleagues in the same firehouse. Larry, who has recently lost his wife, is concerned about what will happen if he is killed on the job. But he does not want to forfeit his pension. Chuck offers Larry a way out of his dilemma. On paper, they will pretend to be a homosexual couple (even though both are straight and Chuck is known to be a womanizer), for the sake of Larry’s children. Now they prove to everyone that they are a gay couple happy in love. And that’s only the tip of iceberg.

I genuinely enjoy this movie. While Adam Sandler has not quite outgrown his man/boy act, Chuck is decent human being and a good friend to Larry in his time of need. What I also like is that it highlights the issue of the fight for equality that the LGBTQ community faces in a way that does not hit the audience over the head with.

I recommend it.

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