05 May

Grownvengers: Billy Madison

Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
– High School Principal to Billy Madison

The Set Up

The last Grownvengers origin story is perhaps the most important: Adam Sandler’s. As the front man for Grownups 2, producer of many of the prequels we’ve already watched, and ringleader of a host of terrible comedies, picking a Sandler movie to watch was no easy task. We settled on Billy Madison both because we suspect it is at least halfway responsible for the name of Sandler’s production company (Happy Madison) and because it occurred early enough in his career that it might actually still be funny. It’s also a personal favorite for Leanna, so we’ll let her take the reigns during the film review since she had a very different viewing experience than the other members of Munch.

The Food

Our theme for the food was inspired by the movie’s general synopsis. Billy Sandler is, in age if not maturity, an adult who has to go back to school and pack a lunch while he’s at it. We took a basic school sack lunch – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrot sticks – and dressed it up for an adult palette.

We started with the carrots as an appetizer, more specifically the heirloom variety because they are beautiful in color and relatively free of the colonization history carrots have endured. And to kick its kid butt into grown up gear, we smothered the carrots in a delicious curry yogurt sauce, roasted them, and served it over a swath of garlic yogurt with a hint of turmeric. Deliciously spring-like, it was a wonderful way to start off this meal.

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Next we prepared our adult PB&J. We made our own peanut butter from scratch including shelling the peanuts, grinding them, and adding some chili paste, ginger, and other spices for additional flavor. We were going for a Thai twist on the classic PB&J and the ginger and chili peanut butter really set the tone. Since we invented a brand new sandwich from scratch, we earned the right to name it, and have chosen to name it the Adam Sandwich*.

*Per our lawyer’s recommendation, we have to include the following disclaimer:

This sandwich is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual comedians, living or dead, in their prime or past their time, is purely coincidental.

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We replaced the jelly with a homemade mango chutney, made up of mangoes, red onions, red bell peppers, ginger, macadamia nuts, and brown sugar. The chutney was heavenly and left a lingering mango-like smell in our apartment for a full week after making it. 10/10 would recommend.

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If you have been following this blog for a bit you know that at times we like our foods to the next level and to take the sandwich to the munch level, we added in some delicious roasted pork belly. After marinating it in a medley of soy sauce, fish sauce, and spices, and we scored the skin, piled on the salt and roasted it for over an hour. After slicing it into little sandwich-sized pieces, we crisped their edges in a pan for optimal mouthfeel. And yes, as bona fide food bloggers, we are allowed to use words like mouthfeel. Deal with it.

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Grown up PB&J ingredients assemble! You can find recipes for the peanut butter, mango chutney, and sandwich assembly on Kitchenbowl.

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The Drinks

We didn’t make a signature cocktail since we knew we had a rough night ahead of us, what with the moonshine for Joe Dirt. If you’re looking for inspiration however, we’d suggest a White Russian for its use of milk, a classic staple of growing kids.

The Rules

  1. Drink and toast whenever Billy passes a grade. They start coming hard and fast after 6th grade. Be ready with a fresh drink.
  2. Drink whenever Billy bullies a child.
  3. Drink whenever it’s the penguin’s fault.

The Movie

Hello, Munch readers. It’s me, Leanna, and I’m going to take you through the 1995 Sandler classic that is Billy Madison. I was the only member of Munch to have seen the film before our official viewing, and to be honest, I have probably seen it close to 20 times over the years. The film is a favorite of my mom’s, so when I re-watched it this time, I caught myself laughing every time she would laugh and feeling a strong sense of connection to her and nostalgia for the times we would rewind (Yes, we had it on VHS!) the dodge ball scene over and over again to watch Billy annihilate a group of first graders.

Although my fellow bloggers did not enjoy Billy Madison with the nostalgic joy that I experienced, we all agreed that the movie was nothing if not continuous. The clown on stilts that fell over and should have died at Billy’s first party? He’s a love interest later on. That banana peel that the bus driver threw out the window for no apparent reason? It’ll tie into a recurring obstacle that Billy faces during school. That guy (Steve Buscemi) that Billy randomly calls and apologizes to? He’s actually the real hero of the movie (kind of). You have to give Sandler credit for tying everything together so neatly and in such an unexpected fashion.

If I’m being honest, however, Billy Madison did not age well, and there’s a decent amount of tasteless Sandler humor smattered throughout the film. The set designer really took some liberties with Eric’s office/lair and the poop jokes and misogyny that are present in many of Sandler’s films today definitely grew their roots in early films like Billy Madison. If you enjoy early Sandler and especially if you happened to watch this film while you were the age of the child actors, you’ll still have a good time laughing at Billy and shaking your head as he re-experiences the trials of childhood.

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The Reviews

Andre: C-. I feel especially guilty since I have been insisting we watch an Adam Sandler movie since the very start of this blog. Having not seen a Sandler movie since my childhood, I remembered him being a grade-A comedian. However, this movie barely earned passing grades in my book. For once, I liked the child actors more than the adult actors in this movie. I never expected Grownvengers to be a life-changing experience, and maybe it hasn’t been, but I have definitely changed many long-standing opinions I’ve held about several of these actors. That’s good news for Chris Rock, not so much for Adam Sandler.

Leanna: 7 snack packs out of 10. I know Billy Madison isn’t a great movie, but for the reasons I stated above, it’ll always have a special place in my heart. Maybe the jokes aren’t timeless, but watching Sandler struggle to interact with children while he is still one himself will just always be funny to me in the context of this movie.

Ben: 35%. Wow. I did not enjoy this movie. Maybe Billy Madison is equivalent to certain people or age demographics not enjoying Napolean Dynamite, or maybe it is just bad. It could be that I don’t enjoy Adam Sandler’s brand of humor, or the movie was bad. Perhaps it came out at a time when there was nothing else like it and it was revolutionary in that sense, it could also just be bad. I know, I know, I am being harsh on it, and I had high hopes going into this film for it is widely considered Adam Sandler’s best movie, coming out of the viewing experience though made me think that Adam Sandler (especially in the later years) appeals to a very specific demographic and I am not in that demographic. I am lucky enough that I never need to watch this movie again.

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