It seems the entire Internet cannot stop talking about the film Uncut Gems, and for good reason. The latest project from the Safdie brothers, Josh and Benny, is a dizzying ride about a jeweler in New York City’s Diamond District who finds himself at the mercy of loansharks and must track down a rare gemstone in order to repay his debts. And much of the discourse surrounding the film has been in regard to Adam Sandler, who plays the aforementioned jeweler, Howard Ratner, and his apparent hotness.
While some will contend that Sandler has always been hot, the film has appeared to stir in others a Sandler sexual awakening of sorts: that Sandler’s turn as the flawed jeweler exudes a kind of Big Zaddy energy.
You’re probably familiar with the term “daddy” as a way to describe (typically) older (say, forties to fifties) attractive men, although it has grown to be commonly used to refer to one’s significant other, regardless of age. Examples include Idris Elba, Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem, among others. In a similar vein is the “zaddy,” where the defining characteristics have less to do with age and more to do with a sense of fashion and the way one carries oneself. It’s a matter of confidence — a zaddy knows who he is, and flaunts it.
And Sandler wouldn’t be the zaddy he is in the film if not for Howard’s wardrobe. The costumes Sandler dons would not be considered fashionable by most standards, but they’re wholly realistic to his character (a middle-aged jeweler whose clientele includes Kevin Garnett, playing himself) as well as the setting of the film (Manhattan, circa 2012). The most circulated outfit, and the one that speaks most to who Howard is, features a black leather sport coat, slightly oversized, paired with a yellow knit polo with contrasting black collar and billowy pleated trousers. For shoes, Howard opts for Ferragamo loafers to match his Ferragamo belt (the fact that his accessories are Ferragamo and not Gucci says a lot). And then there are Howard’s mainstays: two (yes, two) diamond earrings, one in each lobe, his rimless “Cartier” glasses that are later revealed to have transition lenses, and of course, his rings — a diamond-encrusted Star of David pinky ring and his 1973 Knicks Championship ring.
The result is a schlubby, sleazy, greaseball with an objectively “bad” sense of fashion — outdated, ill-fitting, cheesy. But that’s the point. Howard is dressing according to his belief in what will read as signifiers of wealth and success. Oblivious to trends, he wants to alert people to the money he possesses, and for him that means doing so through explicitly designer accessories and velour tracksuits, or the Prada polo casually lying around his office that he throws on after getting bloodied by the loansharks, tags still attached. He is, after all, from New Jersey.
But the outfits work in Howard’s favor because he imbues them with the best accessory of all: confidence. He shows no shame or embarrassment; he truly believes he looks good, and more importantly, rich. You have to commend Howard for his conviction in himself.
Even when he finds himself at a club, glaringly out of place in a salmon colored silk-but-not-quite button-up and black trousers, his confidence never falters, as evidenced by him getting into a fight with The Weeknd over his mistress (played by Julia Fox). To the viewers, it’s a sad sight; Howard, the oldest one in the club, surrounded by twenty- and thirty-somethings who ignore his presence. But Howard’s ignorance, or simply his refusal to acknowledge his lack of belonging, is endearing, and quite frankly, hot. Nothing can shake his belief of who he is and his ability to have things go his way: he will get the gemstone back, he will pay back his debts, he will place more bets and he will win.
Some might call it delusion (or, you know, a gambling addiction), but that’s just being a zaddy.
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