“This is the end my friends… this is the end…” – The Doors
Let me start by saying that Adam Sandler used to be funny. I could defend even the most marginal of Sandler films (including Little Nicky). But I honestly just can’t look at the man the same way ever again. After the past two years everything the man did will be hopelessly tainted by the run of pure shit that this man has foisted on audiences.
His descent started with Grown Ups, a film that doesn’t even try to be funny so Sandler and his friends can essentially have a paid vacation. Then there was Just Go With It earlier this year, which is aggressively and abrasively unfunny so Sandler and his friends can take paid vacations. Then came what I thought was the final straw. He co-wrote Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, the worst film I have ever seen in my entire Godless life.
I shook it all off because Larson didn’t actually star Sandler. I approached Jack and Jill with as open of a mind as I possibly could. I hoped from the much mocked trailer that the film would approach an almost surreal level of comedy akin to one of Sandler’s last minor successes You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. What I saw inJack and Jill was certainly surreal, and thankfully not one of the worst films of the year.
But I am now officially done with Adam Sandler in every possible way.
For the few chuckles that the film does admittedly have, the film serves as a giant middle finger to the audience and to the core demographic that made him a star in the first place. It is disgusting and reprehensible on every conceivable level how Sandler essentially gets away with preening about on screen as if to say “I can’t believe you guys are paying me to do this shit!” If the man really hates his audience so much, he should just retire. It’s admirable wanting to keep all your sycophantic friends in work, but the cost is just too much. Sandler should be held up as one of the poster boys for just what the top 1% are capable of getting away with.
Sandler stars in the dual roles of Jack and Jill Sadlestein, estranged fraternal twins with vastly different lives. Jack is a successful (as if a latter day Sandler character would be ANYTHING other than successful) producer of television commercials tasked with landing Al Pacino (playing himself) for a Dunkin’ Donuts ad campaign shilling Dunkaccinos. Into his life comes Jill, who seems to be annoying for a living since her only real character traits are to have a grating voice and act extremely and cartoonishly Jewish.
Jill is only slated to spend Thanksgiving weekend with Jack’s family (including his wife played by what appears to be a cardboard cutout that looks suspiciously like Katie Holmes, his adopted Indian son who likes to tape things to his body, and his daughter who always dresses up in really random costumes for no reason at all), but of course Jill is mourning that no guys love her and that her mother recently passed away, so she becomes the house guest that won’t go away.
Thankfully for Jack, Al Pacino has literally lost his mind in the most unfunny and bland scene where the famed fireball of an actor has ever lost his shit. Pacino has taken a liking to Jill, and despite hating Jack he delivers the ultimatum that he will do the Dunkin’ Donuts spots if he can have Jill. It’s kind of like Indecent Proposaldreamed up by a guy with a head injury who just got rolled in a parking lot.
The film has all the trappings of a Sandler production (ethnic “humour” that states no one but him can make fun of Jewish people but he’ll gladly call Latin Americans illegal immigrants and call atheists stupid, extended sequences on cruise ships and in Europe to qualify for vacation pay, a wealth of product placement) without anything funny or exciting to say or do. The laundry list of cameos in this film is staggering – including one A-list megastar that shows up wearing a Justin Bieber T-Shit, and a famous athlete in a wig doing odd things with a ham – but not a single one of them is given a funny line or anything amusing to do. None of them even try to be funny. Although, simply by showing up and smiling they fare better than poor Katie Holmes.
To give the film a bit more credit than it might be worth, Pacino gets the joke of why he’s in the movie. He knows he was hired to act crazy and play off his image as a serious actor, and thankfully he’s game for just about anything regardless of how abstract and unfunny it might be.
As for Sandler, I have come to the conclusion that he’s always working with Dennis Dugan directing because he will never once push Sandler to do anything that might strain his acting muscles. Jack is boring and always on edge and Jill is shrill, but with only a silly voice to differentiate her from the rest of the cast of people who would never exist in this or any sane world. This type of lazy, phoned in performance could be covered for by someone who actually knows how to properly put a film together, but even for a filmmaker like Dugan (also responsible for Sandler’s last two starring efforts) this represents a career low.
No scenes in this film transition at all. It feels like one extended montage with very little to connect the pieces together. Chunks of the plot are missing. Even within individual scenes something will happen that the audience doesn’t see that changes the tone of the scene. These changes aren’t even meant to be gags (though some are, but they still aren’t funny). There is absolutely no continuity to everything. It’s almost like Dugan ends all of his takes by saying “fuck it, lets move on” instead of “cut.” Then he skips out on the editing process, leaving only a note on a cocktail napkin saying “make it funny.”
When I said that this movie is a giant middle finger to the audience, I meant it. The final three scenes of this film feels like being mocked by a bully who already has your money. Without giving too much away they involve (in sequence) an entire “touching” scene spoken entirely in the kind of gibberish Sandler is openly mocked for, a rap number, and a final dialog between Sandler and Pacino that states in unequivocal terms that the film the audience just saw is patently unwatchable and they are morons for having sat through some of the most punishing 87 minutes of their lives. That final dialog is going to become iconic the moment the secret behind it gets out, but it isn’t worth it. It’s the sounds of two men laughing their way to the bank when it’s time to stop giving Sandler a reason to go there in the first place.
Cast: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Nick Swardson, Tim Meadows
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Top image: A scene from Jack and Jill. Courtesy Sony Pictures.