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Adam Sandler broke out on the scene courtesy of Saturday Night Live. Since then, he has cultivated his comedic audience with a string of PG-13 comedies that stray close to the line of offense, but rarely cross it, so he can reach the widest audience possible. Think the Grown Ups films, or something like Click. Once or twice, Sandler breaks free from his pattern and collaborates with an edgy director, blessing us with Punch-Drunk Love or Uncut Gems. And that’s when the Sandman really gets to unleash his inner adult comedian.
And he gets to swear. A lot. Take Uncut Gems, for example. In the film, Adam Sandler plays Howard, a degenerate gambler who runs a jewelry shop in Manhattan (in part to fuel his gambling habit). Howard’s a rough character in a rough industry, and he swears. All the time. To the point where the script for Uncut Gems has a whopping 560 uses of the word “fuck” in it. The most ever in a film? Nah, but good enough for fourth place on that filthy list:
Were they all written into the script? Probably not. While it’s likely that Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie peppered their Uncut Gems screenplay with a decent amount of F-bombs. But I’m also betting that the bulk of them were dropped in my the cast as they improvised their difficult scenes. And in situations like this, the use of such colorful language sells the paranoia, the despair, and the anger that fuels most of the action in Uncut Gems. The language is necessary to make the movie as powerful and disturbing as it is.
So, what movies have more uses of the word “fuck” in their screenplays? Well, earlier this year, EW published the findings of a study that found Uncut Gems at number seven on the all-time list, so I think Netflix is only counting studio films that were released in theaters. That would put two Martin Scorsese films ahead of Uncut Gems (ironic, when you consider how influential Scorsese clearly is on the Safdie Brothers). One is Casino. The other is The Wolf of Wall Street.
And the other movie that’s ahead of Uncut Gems on that list is Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam. That’s surprising. Not that Spike Lee shies away from language. Quite the contrary. But I wouldn’t have placed him anywhere near the Scorsese levels of “fuck” usage, and if I had to pick one of this movies, it wouldn’t have been Summer of Sam.
If only Adam Sandler’s use of salty language got him awards recognition. It’s true that he picked up some trophies for his outstanding work in Uncut Gems. But he was overlooked by the Academy, which was a shame. If we asked Sandler to reply to Oscars snub, we’re guessing his quote would have more than a few four-letter words in it. Uncut Gems can be streamed on Netflix. It’s fucking great.