Brad Meltzer is a solid writer and a really fascinating guy, and his nonfiction bestseller Heroes for My Son (followed more recently by Heroes for My Daughter) is a truly beautiful, heartfelt expression of a father’s deep love and boundless hope for his child. So it makes perfect Hollywood sense that there’s a movie adaptation in the works — and that Adam Sandler is producing it.
I don’t have any particular axe to grind with Sandler, although I suspect that’s because, in spite of my line of work, I’ve been able to avoid most of his worst films — I don’t think I’ve seen one since Spanglish, which I kind of liked, unlike most of the critics who wrote it up. But a movie hardly needs to be made from this book, and Sandler hardly seems like the guy to make it.
It isn’t that Heroes for My Son is a towering work of literary genius, and I’m not arguing that it’s without a certain measure of dewy-eyed New Age dippiness. But Meltzer wrote it from a place of tenderness, good humor, and unconditional love, and if there is a guy in Hollywood who can translate that to the screen without tipping into mawkishness, I don’t think it’s Sandler.
Why does it matter? Because there aren’t enough movies about good relationships between fathers and sons — about the pride we feel for our children, the dreams we have for them, the endless, complicated struggle to show them how to be kind and strong and honest and true. I’m not sure what fart jokes, Rob Schneider cameos, and syrupy third acts have to do with any of that.
Of course, all that stuff sells tickets, which is why Sandler has enough money to go around optioning movie rights to bestselling books, and I don’t begrudge him any of that. This is just another example of Hollywood doing what it does — I only wish they’d done it a little differently in this case.