Adam Sandler Grows Up (Mostly)

At 56, the formerly juvenile funnyman has matured into a subtler, more nuanced comedy performer. It’s why the “Murder Mystery” films work so well.

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By Calum Marsh

“I don’t know what I’m thinking. I’m so sad,” wails Howard Ratner, voice choked up, tears streaming down his cheeks, a wad of tissue stuffed inside his bloody nose. “I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do. Everything I do is not going right.”

Howard, played with frazzled, manic intensity by Adam Sandler, is at the end of his rope. At this point in the gambling drama “Uncut Gems,” the Diamond District jeweler is in leagues of debt, and his one final, desperate hope to raise cash — a gem auction — has just failed spectacularly. Roughed up by the guys he owes, he turns to his mistress, Julia (Julia Fox), for consolation.

“Unzip my skirt,” she tells him consolingly. Turning around, she reveals that she’s had his name tattooed in cursive on her backside. “It says ‘Howie’!” she exclaims.

“I don’t deserve it!” Howard moans. After a pause, the Jewish New Yorker thinks to add, “You can’t even get buried with me now!”

Recent Sandler films, including “Murder Mystery” and its new sequel, “Murder Mystery 2,” have this same familiar intensity. They may have less serious ambitions, but they have also been greatly bolstered by the depth and nuance he has lately seemed to harness.

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