It’s easy to say every time that a new Adam Sandler film comes out that he’s reached a new low; he’s a pretty easy target for most film aficionados and film critics alike because he makes plenty of weak films. It gets easy to dismiss any film with him starring in it because he has a history of duds and the like; it almost seems unfair to paint every film he’s in as “the worst film ever made” because most of them are merely mediocre to slightly bad. He usually pawns off roles in horrible films to his friends to star in, like Nick Swardson in Bucky Larson or Allen Covert in Grandma’s Boy.
It’s rare for Sandler to make a noxiously bad film. But when he does, it’s almost perversely fascinating in a way.
Jack and Jill is Sandler’s latest and stars the actor in his usual role as someone who’s become very successful needing to learn a lesson (or two) about life. This time he’s Jack, an ad executive and the object that helps him fall in line is his twin sister Jill, also played by Sandler. When a four day visit from his sister turns into a nearly never-ending saga, Jack ends up learning a lesson or two about life.
The problem is that the film isn’t funny in any aspect. Sandler isn’t even disguising his own loathing of the film, it seems, as he plays two characters fairly poorly (even by his standards). Jack, the usual variant of the Adam Sandler role, is a non-descript guy with no other characteristics than he’s played by Adam Sandler. He doesn’t invest the character with any defining traits and Sandler doesn’t do much with the character, either. He is sleep-walking through the role for most of the film as Jack … which is an improvement over Jill.
Sandler has done drag before, most notably on Saturday Night Live, and has put more nuance and likeability into a one-shot sketch character than he does into a leading role. Jill is meant to be unlikeable and slightly obnoxious but in Sandler’s hands she’s creepy and obnoxious; she’s not annoying but someone you’d purposefully keep away from children and people you like. The film’s big denouement, about the importance of being close with family, is a bit off-kilter because Jill’s the kind of person you wouldn’t ever have wanted to acknowledge as even knowing much less related to.
But the film’s biggest flaw is its treatment of Al Pacino, who stars as himself in the film. A big part of Jack’s career, and a wannabe suitor of Jill, Pacino hasn’t embarrassed himself in a film this poorly in some time. When one compares him to Robert De Niro, his best contemporary, the one thing most people downgrade De Niro for is that he’s embarrassed himself in a lot of bad films over the years whereas Pacino hasn’t. It may not equal the depth of De Niro’s follies but it certainly tops in an overall lack of quality.
Jack and Jill seemed embarrassing from the very first trailer and poster but usually Sandler has a way of making something tolerable out of even the biggest cinematic mess. Not this time.
Director: Dennis Dugan Notable Cast: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Allen Covert, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, Al Pacino, David Spade Writer(s): Ben Zook, Steve Koren, Robert Smigel