It's not every day you hear the name "Happy Gilmore" referenced at the Cannes Film Festival.
But that was the case Sunday when Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)," starring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman, premiered at the French Riviera festival.
When the film's cast, which also includes Emma Thompson, assembled for a press conference, the moderator noted this was the second film that Sandler and Stiller have made together after that classic 1996 comedy.
"I just think it's cool to hear 'Happy Gilmore' mentioned at the Cannes," Stiller chuckled.
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Worlds often collide at the Cannes Film Festival, even between broad comedy and international art house pieces.
But while Sandler is far from a Cannes regular, the comedian was the toast of the festival Sunday, earning some of the best reviews of his career for his performance as a recently divorced father and the unappreciated son of Hoffman's aging artist, the patriarch of a neurotic, dysfunctional New York family.
"The Meyerowitz Stories" premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or — the festival's coveted top prize.
For many, Sandler's sensitive, rumbled performance recalled some of his rare dramatic turns, like in "Punch Drunk Love" or "Spanglish."
Sandler first came to Cannes in 2002 with "Punch Drunk Love," directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and he was clearly excited to be back.
"It's different for a comedian to get an offer like this," said Sandler. "My first thought is I don't want to let anyone down."
Sandler described his joy at reading Baumbach's script.
"I was misty-eyed, laughing," said Sandler. "I just couldn't believe we were going to do this movie."
Stiller and Sandler play halfbrothers of very different temperaments in the film, a relationship that culminates in both fisticuffs and tender connections. For the two actors, friends since their early 20s, it was a poignant experience.
"Adam and I have known each other for years and years," said Stiller. "This was a really special experience, having a chance to connect with him like this. Where we're at in our lives personally, it was a chance for us to really get closer than we've been before. Playing brothers, it was really like one of the best experiences I've had."
"Me too, buddy," chimed Sandler.