Adam Sandler is set to take on the job of adapting the beloved children’s board game Candy Land for the big screen. If you are the least bit surprised at the idea of turning static property like a game played by kids using a board set atop a table, then you clearly have not been paying attention. “Battleship” is already underway and “Clue” came to screens with multiple possible endings years before few ever imagined playing the game on a computer screen. The fail/pass ratio of movies based on games is pretty lousy, but nobody in Hollywood is going to let that stop them, Jack!
Sandler and Robert Smigel are on tap to take over the screenplay writing duties from Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. That writing team was under contract to produce a screenplay for Candy Land to be put out by Universal Studios. The skinny is that Aibel and Berger approached the task of adaptation by attempting to create a fantasy universe of its own in which candy was the centerpiece of design. The only things missing were, apparently, Gollum and an interesting story. Sandler’s deal moves Candy Land as a property over to Columbia where a new storyline will start from scratch.
Two good pieces of news come from this announcement. One is that Kevin Lima makes the transition from Universal to Columbia as part of the deal to direct the film. Lima’s credits include both of the very charming Eloise TV movies and “Enchanted.” In other words, Kevin Lima knows a thing or two about directing films aimed at children that include enough interesting elements to keep their parents tuned in and with the snooze button disabled.
The second good news is that Adam Sandler appears to be ready and willing to continue wading into the waters of kid-friendly comedies of the ilk of “Bedtime Stories.” That movie was a loosely plotted endeavor that gave free reign for Sandler to traverse into the world of fantasy dream segments. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that “Bedtime Stories” proved that Sandler has an exceptionally well tuned chemistry with kids.
Sandler’s best movies are those that take the gentler path toward humor rather than going for the easy joke of raunch. “Bedtime Stories” and “The Wedding Singer” are just two examples of Sandler’s ability to stimulate laughter through character development, emotional resonance and a toned down sensibility. In these movies and, one suspects, Candy Land, Sandler comes the closet to a latter day Jerry Lewis that Hollywood has yet provided. Those gentle, sweet, occasionally offbeat and often slightly bent comedies that Jerry Lewis sent to theaters on a regular basis throughout the 1960s hold up as a body of work to be admired, adapted and even remade…without the involvement of Eddie Murphy.
Those not fully aware of Jerry Lewis’ style of comedy looked to the Jim Carrey who broke through to superstardom in the 1990s as the closest thing to a modern day version of the legendary funnyman, but mugging and other types of physical comedy are just a small part of the Lewis style of comedy. If you really want to get a look at what Jerry Lewis might look like if he were an early 21st century presence, look no farther Adam Sandler and look to Candy Land as a potential double feature selection to watch with something like “Cinderfella.”
For more sweets from Timothy Sexton, visit the land where you’ll find these articles:
Sammy Petrillo, the Poor Man’s Jerry Lewis and the Concept of Imitation and Originality
Adam Sandler is Dead…Not!
The Omnipresence of Jack and Jill at the Movies in the Fall of 2012