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Jack and Jill Review

Sam’s Rating: 2/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 2.5/10
(2 reviews total)

It’s getting easier to
believe that Adam Sandler has been orchestrating some Andy Kaufman-esque prank
over the last few years. After America’s tepid response to his more dramatic
roles in films such as Funny People, perhaps
Sandler decided that the best revenge was to give the people exactly what they
want: shallow, predictable fast-food distractions.

Grown Ups and Just Go With It, despite all evidence pointing toward their mostly merit-less existence,
still grossed over $100 million, the idea being that these films would make his
comeback as a dramatic actor all the more incredible. But with Jack and Jill, the most reprehensibly
lazy cash-grab to yet bare the Happy Madison label, what little dignity Sandler
had left is publically flayed — and it’s entirely his own fault.

Then
again, you didn’t really need me to tell you that did you? The concept of a
movie where Sandler plays his own twin sister is parody, maybe deserving of a five-minute SNL sketch, yet here we are, with a 90-minute film all about Sandler
dealing with his identical twin sister over the holidays. According to the
filmmakers, twins are just the wackiest thing in the world, and you’d better
think so to if you want to wring any enjoyment out of non-stop gags about twin
powers, secret languages and Sandler mirroring himself on screen. No seriously,
that’s the joke: He’s doing the same thing twice, only one time it’s as a lady.

And
what a lady he is. Sandler’s been criticized for his overreliance on characters
with silly voices, but either he’s not listening or just doesn’t care, because Jill
is like the muse from which all those stupid voices and characters have originated.
Oh sure she’s loud, abrasive and in all likelihood mentally disturbed, but that’s
kinda the point of her as a catalyst for mayhem. She jumps from oblivious to
shrill to psychotic and back again, often within the same scene, but when the story tries to turn our disdain around on us to make you feel sorry for her, it’s
laughable. Endearment in the writer’s eyes is Jill’s inability to remember
movie titles and having a pet macaw named Poopsie. This is a repugnant,
loathsome creation, devoid of any ounce of sympathy and one that I can only pray
is too absurd for real life.

Granted,
Jack and Jill’s version of L.A. seems
overrun with gross comic characterizations that are often more frightening than
funny. This is a world where someone almost gets the crap kicked out of him because
he’s an atheist. Not because he’s belittling the beliefs of others, no, just being
atheist is grounds enough to be violently threatened. Then there’s Sandler’s daughter,
who creepishly carries around a doll dressed as herself through the entire
film, which gets stranger and stranger the longer the movie goes without
commenting on it. That’s not a character trait, it’s just weird, and Katie
Holmes as Sandler’s wife is the closest thing to a sane voice in the film,
though her refusal to acknowledge the utter nonsense around her probably makes
her just as complicit in it.

Finally,
there’s Jack, who should theoretically be the one identifiable person in this
freak show, but is instead the most unlikeable everyman of Sandler’s increasing
catalogue of lifeless family men. While having to exist in the same universe as
Jill might be an excuse for frustration, it doesn’t explain why Sandler thought
it would be clever to play as a raging, manipulative asshole, made
abundantly clear through his cruelty to all those around him, particularly his
employees. Oh by the way, he’s an ad exec, which might be a meta-commentary on the absurd amount of product placement in the film, but it’ll probably just top-off your hatred of Jack as a human being.

Sandler
just seems pissed off whenever he’s not in drag, which I think is coming from a
very real place (no, not like that). Here we see Sandler looking at himself, or
rather the shtick-peddler he has become, and you can sense his frustration, with
Jill embodying the sell-out characters he’s resorted to making as an appeal to
a common denominator that couldn’t be any lower if it were subterranean. You
just know that Sandler isn’t happy with this project, and worse, he knows that
you know. Hell, everyone seems acutely aware that this will be the career nadir
for dozens.

It’s
like watching a death row inmate relive his past crimes, you can sense his
regret, but if he can’t forgive himself, why should we? And if this is Sandler’s
execution, at least all his friends came by to observe it. The celebrity cameos
are relentless, with usual suspects David Spade and Nick Swardson joined by pop-culture throw-aways like Shamwow Guy and Subway’s Jared. But it’s not just the
hacks Sandler roped in. Johnny Depp and Norm MacDonald are both palpably embarrassed
to be seen in this thing, but at least the fleeting thrill of seeing them
onscreen is a nice diversion.

The big gun really is Al “Yes I have an Oscar”
Pacino, in what’s probably his most fearless role in years. Playing himself
offers up a myriad of easy jokes about his great roles of old and he’s still
woefully underserved by the script, but god love him for putting so much damn
effort into this. It’d be easy to compare Pacino’s career spiral to Sandler’s,
but at least here, Pacino dives into the material earnestly, almost
sacrificially, in an effort to inject something, anything, resembling fun into this disaster.

Spoilers
be damned, I can’t think of a better way to sum up my thoughts on Jack and Jill than to paraphrase the
closing dialogue of Jack and Pacino as they watch their atrocious, quote-destroying
Dunkin’ Donuts ad collaboration that is supposed to be the film’s big triumph:

Sandler
:
So what’d you think?
Pacino:
Burn it. Destroy every copy. No one can ever know that this existed.

It’s not hard to figure out what Pacino and Sandler
are actually talking about. The only question is whether this admission is more
funny or pathetic. I’d side with the latter, since there’s little about Jack and Jill that you could describe as
funny.

Rating:
2/10

Jack
and Jill
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Written by Ben Zook, Steven Koren and Robert Smigel
Starring: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino

Other Player Affinity Staff Reviews

Simon thought: “Why — at this point in his incredible, long-lived and successful career — Adam Sandler believes he needs worthless dreck like Jack and Jill on his resume bewilders me. That puzzle entertains me more than most of his recent films have, that’s to be sure. If there is anything to recommend about this latest Sandler/Dugan collaboration it’s that the funnyman can pull off a believable woman (never thought I’d say that) and that Al Pacino can still be a charming dude, even if he’s playing himself. But when Pacino is the funniest part of your movie, you’ve got some sizeable issues swirling around. Cross-dressing Jewish comedians aside, the actual execution of the material is even worse. So much time is spent making Jill an unlikable, shrill, outsider that when the screenplay demands sympathy at key points, the stretch is too tough to make. This is one of the worst movies Sandler’s ever made.” Rating: 3/10

Player Affinity Composite Rating: 2.5/10 

Rating
2.5

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