Why An Adam Sandler Movie Poster Sparked a Urinary Controversy

‘Big Daddy’ was a big hit with public urinators
Why An Adam Sandler Movie Poster Sparked a Urinary Controversy

Despite the fact that some of his most popular movies found him punching a beloved senior citizen in the face, stalking a woman suffering from a debilitating brain injury and literally hanging out with Lucifer, Adam Sandler generally isn’t thought of as a controversial performer. Heck, even after starring in Saturday Night Live’s wildly offensive “Canteen Boy” sketch, it was Alec Baldwin and NBC, not Sandler, who experienced the brunt of the backlash. 

Strangely enough, though, one Adam Sandler comedy that did receive some headline-grabbing pushback when it came out was also one of his sweetest: 1999’s Big Daddy.

You might think that any controversy involving this movie would have focused on, say, Rob Schneider doing another offensive accent while playing a Middle Eastern delivery guy, or the constant over-the-top product placements, or the fact that the movie is about an adult man who illegally adopts a small child just to prove a point to his girlfriend, lasting psychological damage to a minor be damned!  

No, what landed the movie in hot water was its poster. While most Sandler movie posters simply depict Sandler striking a pose while smirking and holding an object pertaining to the plot of the film — be it a golf club, a hair dryer or a magical reality-bending remote control — the poster for Big Daddy featured his character Sonny peeing against a wall, along with his pint-sized pal Julian, just like in the movie.

Some people felt that the posters weren’t just an advertisement for the film, but also served as an endorsement of public urination in general, despite the fact that Sonny only condones whizzing on the wall of that one snooty restaurant that refused to let a desperate Julian use the toilet. But these posters were especially problematic in “New York City subways and Santa Monica beaches,” two places where rogue urinators were already an issue long before the star of Billy Madison gave them tacit permission to let loose and indulge their urological whims. 

The studio behind the film, Columbia Pictures, was asked to replace the offending posters with ones featuring a less “pee-centric shot.” Not only did they oblige, when Big Daddy was released in the U.K., reportedly the studio decided to use the “more hygienic replacement poster” to promote the film, thus sparing the London Underground from an uptick of Sandler-inspired tinkling. 

But really, if cities like New York and L.A. actually wanted people to stop pissing all over the place, perhaps investing in more accessible public restrooms would have been a better, more long-term solution than complaining about the advertising campaign of a movie from the director of Beverly Hills Ninja. 

Just a thought. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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