To arrive at the final score, each director’s results from each category were run through the following formula: SNR x VCI/SNF + ASC + SPS + DMBC. Dugan, Brill, and Coraci were then ranked from lowest to highest score. I don’t make the rules. Here we go:


3. Frank Coraci

SNR: .55 (5/9 films with Sandler)

VCI: 848 miles, The Ridiculous 6

ASC: 0 (2 Razzie, 0 Kids Choice)

SPS: 4

DMBC: -69

Total Score: 29.21

There are those viral tweets you see every few months that let easily amused online people generate Their Rap Names by quote tweeting with “Yung” plus their favorite marsupial/mother’s maiden name/social security number. The aliases are mostly gibberish, but there is such a thing as an intuitive, objectively correct alias. This is relevant because Frank Coraci tends to go by variations of either FrankoSpanko or Spanknyce in his online life; he uses some version of the former in his Twitter handle and DJ name, and named his production company after the latter.


And yet, this same man is also responsible for Sandler’s closest thing to an effective melodrama. That’s Click, a movie I remembered fairly fondly on first viewing but which ended up being a little more jarring in its tonal shifts on a rewatch, is a solid enough gloss on It’s A Wonderful Life—a version of a classic American fable made for suburbanites who spend a lot of time at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. There’s nothing distinctly Coracian about Click, it should be said. He seems, as a filmmaker, to have a slightly mushier interior than his contemporaries but this...does not come through in all of his movies. For instance, he also directed the idiotic and pretty racist The Ridiculous 6. But he also directed Click, which Mick “Click” LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle hailed as “one of the best American films of the year” upon release. Frank Coraci’s filmography is truly a land of contrasts.

Sandler and Coraci are certainly ideal professional bedfellows, and they’ve worked together in three different decades now. But Coraci’s slightly lower output and disappointing vacationability keeps him at no. 3.


2. Steven Brill

SNR: .5 (4/8 films with Sandler)

VCI: 2,422 miles, The Do-Over

ASC: 2 (2 Razzie, 1 Kids Choice)

SPS: 2

DMBC: -69

Total Score: 237.75

Diminishing friendships make you appreciate the ones that endure even more. Brill and Sandler went a whopping 14 years between collaborations—Brill was busy with some Sandler-adjacent projects, like Without a Paddle and Drillbit Taylor in the interim. But Sandler’s gargantuan multi-picture Netflix deal brought these titans back together for the doubleheader of The Do-Over and Sandy Wexler.


This is honestly a fairly low bar, but Brill might be the filmmaker you’re likeliest to recognize for his work outside the Sandlerverse, which includes directing Heavy Weights, writing The Mighty Ducks, and appearing as an actor in films like Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Knocked Up, and Batman Returns (he was a revelation as Gothamite #1). But you don’t get a Sandler Score of 237.75 just from cozying up to Judd Apatow or Steven Soderbergh—this is about The Sandler, and Brill is about that, too.

While Brill has the longest gap without A Sandler of any of the DuCorBri triumvirate, his early involvement is enough to last a lifetime: before he returned to the fold during The Netflix Years, Brill directed Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds and helped with the screenplays of The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy. I will not speculate that their 14 years apart suggests some grand falling out beyond what tends happens to men of a certain age, or the natural attrition that is built into every adult friendship. What’s most important is that Brill is back.


He’s all the way back, in fact, like to the point where he recorded a video message for this year’s SandlerCon:


1. Dennis Dugan

SNR: .57 (8/14 films with Sandler)

VCI: 2,494 miles, Just Go With It

ASC: 36 (18 Razzie, 2 Kids Choice)

SPS: 9

DMBC: 69

Total Score: 291.70

Did you really think this could be anyone else? Even if you are not as up on the DuCorBri experience, it should have been obvious that Dugan’s the one. I could talk about his track record, which is highlighted by him directing more Sandler films (eight) than any other director. I could talk about him directing The Benchwarmers mere years before his son Kelly Dugan became the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2009. (Kelly appears to be out of organized baseball this year, but made it as far as Triple-A in 2015.)


I could talk about David Spade shooting a fountain of vomit out of a tire in Shaq’s general direction in Grown-Ups, which is as purely Dugan-ian film vision as any imaginable. I could talk about Dave Matthews’ prescient turn as a white supremacist lunk in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. I could talk about The Dunkaccino musical number, a simultaneous high and low point in Al Pacino’s strange late career. I should probably mention, as Eloy recently pointed out after watching the movie 15 times in the past nine months, that Dugan filmed and released an entirely different version of Jack and Jill for release in Spain, which featured a character and storyline that was not in the U.S. version. “I don’t think I know of another movie that has an additional character and storyline for a different territory,” he says. (Me neither.)

But nothing really distills the Dugan essence, the Sandler essence, the friend essence, quite like this quote that’s been attributed to the director:

“Audiences that go to my movies don’t want a message. They don’t want my soul exposed or my life view. They just want to laugh.”


Sometimes that’s the best kind of friend you could want. The kind of friend you’re most likely to keep around. Sometimes you just want to laugh. Also Dugan is the filmmaker responsible for the Dave Matthews Butt Coconut moment, so this was never really going to be that close.