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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jack and Jill


Poor guy didn't know it was Adam Sandler. 

If you've seen Funny People, then you get the joke they were making the entire time. This is the type of film they were - in foresight - making fun of Adam Sandler for making. Of course, Jack and Jill isn't without comedic merit. Most of Sandler's films, no matter how bad a few of them are, have a few moments that make me laugh out loud. This one is no exception - the highlight of the film, outside of the entirety of Al Pacino's performance as himself, is the Thanksgiving dinner with a homeless man. The film is worth seeing for those two things alone.

Unfortunately, one hilariously scripted moment and a brilliantly uninhibited extended cameo don't a quality film make. Two stars, for the above reasons, as they're that good. Two missing stars for the overbearing presence of everything else.

When your film relies on diarrhea jokes and racist stereotypes, you might think you have a problem. Consider the too-subtle-for-everyone black-as-damn-night All About Steve for a minute - if you remember the extremist character that Sandra Bullock played, you'll see connections with the first hour or so of this film, and you'll probably see what Sandler was trying to do. There are moments that hint at darker-than-hell comedy, but are usually put aside pokes at Latinos and celebrity cameos. It's hinted that Jill (... adam sandler) has severe social anxiety and is cluster-B style Passive Aggressive. Of course, that's only hinted at. What we're spoon-fed, instead of being left to infer on our own like an intelligent audience, is that she's really just Adam Sandler in a dress a lonely woman who doesn't spend enough time with her twin brother Jack (... adam sandler). What could have been Tatie Danielle style genius is left in the dust for Eddie Murphy/Norbit/Klump style flatulence. Yes, the film has funny moments. I laughed quite a few times. But, it's important to understand the fine distinction between intelligently written comedy and cheap laughs. This is a film of cheap laughs.

If you aren't familiar with the story, as we've been forced to watch the trailer over and over again (thanks, Colombia marketing team), Jack is an ad-executive from the Bronx, living in LA with his wife (Katie Holmes) and two children. One of whom is adopted. and has a tape fetish that goes unexplained for the entire film. Jack doesn't like his twin sister (and there's the set-up, folks) who comes to stay with him once a year for Thanksgiving. Except this time, she elongates her stay until after New Years. Meanwhile, Jack is trying to secure Al Pacino (Al Pacino, channeling Skynet) for a Dunkin Donuts commercial, hocking the new Dunkaccino. yeah. Al falls in love with Jill, Jill doesn't love Al, Jack hates both of them, but learns to love Jill spoilers and they all live happily ever after.

Oh and David Spade has a cameo. As a woman.

I'm having a hard time understanding Sandler's choices for the film. Yes, it's very easy to look at it and just call it a goofy comedy made purely for everyone to have fun. But, he's done that before to much better results. His Grown Ups from 2008 wound up being extremely touching and surprisingly well-acted. Even Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, which are completely ridiculous, have moments that live on past the films. Sandler is a credible dramatic actor, and a gifted stand-up comic. So, looking at his decisions for Jack and Jill, one has to wonder where he went so wrong. Almost as if he lost a bet. Or took plot ideas from a Twitter potluck. You can do much better than this, Adam.