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Can ‘Happy Gilmore 2’ Avoid the ‘Zoolander’ Curse?

Adam Sandler is back, but will belated sequel stumble like Ben Stiller's franchise?

Adam Sandler is getting “Happy.” Again.

The A-list comic will reprise one of his best-known roles in the sequel to the 1996 comedy “Happy Gilmore.” That film, his second major leading man role, cemented his stardom and gave rise to some classic comedy moments.

  • Fighting iconic game show host Bob Barker
  • Quotes like, “Why don’t you just go HOME? That’s your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME?”
  • And, of course, Happy’s unhinged golf swing, born from his failed hockey career.


The film scored $38 million at the U.S. box office from a $12 million budget, but its fame only grew over the decades. Now, it’ll be another Netflix original for Sandler, whose ties to the streaming platform have paid off handsomely on both ends.

Sequels always bring a measure of expectations. Can the new film match the original’s laughs? Is this an inspired new tale or a cash grab? It’s impossible not to think about “Coming 2 America” on that front.

What Team Sandler must avoid at all costs is the “Zoolander” curse.


That 2001 comedy gave Ben Stiller one of his most quotable hits, but for some reason it took more than a decade for Stiller to craft a sequel. The result: “Zoolander 2” got crushed by critics and fans alike. The sequel made more money than its predecessor $56 million versus $45 for the first film, but the negative reaction and higher budget ruled the day.

Stiller remains sore about the failure, telling David Duchovny’s “Fail Better” podcast that the negative reaction “blindsided” him.

Will Sandler suffer a similar fate with “Happy Gilmore 2?”

It’s possible.

“Zoolander 2” hit theaters 15 years after the original. “Happy Gilmore 2” will arrive nearly 30 years later. Sandler looks youthful at 57, but the “Saturday Night Live” alum’s frantic performance the first time ’round may be hard to duplicate.

Do we want an older, wiser Happy Gilmore?

The Price Is Wrong, Bitch - Happy Gilmore (8/9) Movie CLIP (1996) HD

“Zoolander 2” felt self-satisfied, brimming with celebrity cameos and the sense that any kind of reunion might be enough to satiate fans. Sandler, who often brings his comic troupe along with him, likely will be in familiar company for round 2.

One sad exception? Carl Weathers’ pivotal role as Happy’s golf instructor. The “Rocky” superstar, whose character met a farcical end in the film, died earlier this year at the age of 76.

Where does that leave another “Happy” tale?

Sandler has gone through a few changes in recent years. He’s tackled more dramatic projects, from celebrated work like “Uncut Gems” and “Hustle” to lesser material like “Spaceman.” His comedic features haven’t had the same cultural impact as earlier in his career, though “Murder Mystery” with Jennifer Aniston generated a 2023 sequel.

Sandler wouldn’t be the first comic superstar to slide into dramatic work in his later years. If “Happy Gilmore 2” goes the “Zoolander 2” route it might be a sign his wacky comedy days are over.

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