On Tuesday morning, the Safdie Brothers, A24, and Adam Sandler dropped the long-awaited trailer for their upcoming film, Uncut Gems. It’s entirely soundtracked by an ominous version of Travis Scott and The Weeknd’s 2015 song, “Pray For Love.” Kevin Garnett plays Kevin Garnett. Lakeith Stanfield marvels at an iced-out Furby chain. To call the whole enterprise anything less than a vision seems like a slap in the face.
103 seconds into the trailer, Sandler’s Howard Ratner shoves Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, who’s sporting a distinctly House of Balloons-era haircut that he’s since shorn. It looks intense; a clear matchup for the ages that we never knew we wanted. “He did that with Adam, the two of them, no doubles, both of them rolling around on the ground,” co-director Benny Safdie told Variety. “Everybody wanted to get into it, really get down and dirty with us. It was heavily choreographed, but still, none of that stuff is easy.”
We don’t get to see that much of a fight in the clip, but the three-seconds of magic points begs a single question: Who would win a fight? Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye or Adam Richard Sandler?
First, we must establish the basics. No weapons are allowed. Any form of combat is acceptable. The fight is a bare-knuckle brawl, a revelry of fisticuffs, between the 53-year old Sandler and the 29-year-old Tesfaye.
As far as their physical bodies are concerned, Sandler and Tesfaye are likely mismatched. One possesses a dad body that’s lately been honed by carrying broad Netflix comedies, while the latter is a human-shaped pop song primarily trained to approximate the easiest of Michael Jackson’s dance moves. In terms of agility, reflexes, footwork, and the stamina that comes with being a young, wildly successful touring musician, The Weeknd edges out the middle-aged Sandler.
One cannot, though, underestimate Sandler’s physical frame. The man is a unit. Sandler has also shown a propensity to have a very durable face (Bob Barker punches it a lot in 1996’s Happy Gilmore), a formidable right hook and no moral qualms about hitting a Buddhist monk (2003’s Anger Management), and at least some semblance of training in martial arts (2008’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan). Movie fighting is not real fighting, but it does show an ability to handle slight forms of choreography, which counts for something.
More difficult to ascertain is which man’s will and spirit could dominate the other’s? Tesfaye — or at least the character he portrays as The Weeknd — is an emotionally stunted sociopath with a penchant for melodrama and benders. There is a universe where an impassioned, or intoxicated, version of the R&B star could summon the requisite rage to topple his co-star in real life. Sandler seems like a laid back, occasionally calculating individual, but his comedy consistently mines a deep-seated anger that’s clearly easy to call to the surface.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, Adam Sandler has a slight advantage over Abel. A solid core, calm demeanor, sturdy skin sack, and wisdom that only comes with age will make him a worthy adversary. We’ll find out who wins when Uncut Gems is released on December 13th.