Adam Sandler is getting a lot of attention lately for his work on Bennie and Josh Safdie Uncut Gems . And rightly so. The comedian plays a worthy Oscar in the tense gambling thriller and has even threatened to make a painfully terrible film on purpose if the Academy neglects its efforts. But next to Sandler there is a stellar performance of NBA legend Kevin Garnett … only, the former Boston Celtic almost didn't get a chance.
In Untrimmed gems , Adam Sandler plays a scammer who works in the diamond district of New York City, constantly exchanging gems from his store so he can earn money to play NBA games. His worlds clash one day when Kevin Garnett arrives in Sandler's shop. In a recent episode of The Ringer, the brothers admit to having entertained other players' options, explaining:
Initially the film was [Knicks star] Amar'e [Stoudemire]. We walked down a narrow street – era 00 years that we spent working on this thing. So let's rewrite it, briefly, perhaps to do a Kobe thing. But the game must focus on the games of the Northeast. They should come to town. And then our agents said “Oh, Kobe wants to act.” And then, after about a week and a half of slavery on the script, they came back and said: “He wants to direct. It does not matter. “I thought,” I just rewrote the whole movie to try and adapt to the person of Kobe! '
If Kobe Bryant were in Uncut Gems , this would have made the film my number one movie of the entire decade. Kobe is the GOAT. KG is fine, but Kobe belongs to a Rushmore mountain of NBA egotism, and would have been an exceptional sheet for the misguided Adam Sandler player.
Alas, with KG, Untrimmed gems only ends up being one of the best films of this year. It will have to be pretty good. (By the way, this is full of sarcasm.) Here are the brothers who explain their casting:
The reason why it is unusual for Safdies to use Kevin Garnett is because they are hardcore New York Knicks fans, as is the protagonist of the film Adam Sandler. And KG killed the Knicks during his run with the Celtics, so it had to be painful to have to rely on him as the central point in the film. But he's so good, especially as Sandler and Lakeith Stanfield.
Now it is up to the Academy to recognize the splendor of the film. And not just Sandler's performance, but the Picture nomination, and perhaps also that for Safdies in the Best Director category. Would you bet on it? Howard Ratner tells me to double up.