Adam Sandler fans are a forgiving bunch. His last two movies have been awful – and they’ve made great money. Sandler’s new movie, Jack & Jill, is a half-baked tale of the titular twins – Jack & Jill. It relies on Sandler staples like fart and poop jokes and mostly unfunny caricature. Overall, it feels like a rough draft – which immediately puts it ahead of Sandler’s last two efforts: the genuinely awful Grown Ups and the marginally better Just Go With It.
The basic idea is that Jack Sadelstein [Sandler] and his family have to deal with his twin, Jill [Sandler in drag] through their annual Thanksgiving celebration – but when Jack treats his sister badly, she resolves to stay much, much longer. During her stay, her innate Bronxness attracts Al Pacino [as himself, in his second really great performance in an awful movie in the last few weeks] at a Lakers game – but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him.
Oh, and after a wealth of cheap shot Latino gags, she finds her treated by respect by Jack’s gardener, Felipe [Eugenio Derbez].
I’d like to have been in the room for the pitch for Jack & Jill. I imagine that someone suggested Adam go full drag, with a [slightly] higher pitched, [substantially] more grating voice and riffing led to his being a partner in a company that makes commercials for high profile clients like Pepto-Bismol and Dunkin’ donuts [‘think of the possibilities for product placement!].
Then, comes the genius idea – Jill is emotionally needy and passive-aggressive! She whines her way into staying longer and longer and, before you know it, Thanksgiving becomes Hanukkah becomes New Year’s and a sea cruise! And all the while, Jack is trying to get Pacino to do a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial [and going to great lengths – and you know where this is going – to land him].
The biggest problem with Jack & Jill – and what really makes it seem like a rough draft – is that Jill is, essentially, a caricature of a now standard Sandler character. She has no depth, no real heart. When put her at the heart of the movie, it doesn’t matter if everything else is golden [which it isn’t], the result is a loosely directed [by Dennis Dugan] conglomeration of lowest common denominator gags that make it impossible to understand how Jack & Jill got such a terrific performance from Pacino. Not to mention all the cameos [does Sandler have something on Johnny Depp?].
Given the kind of work Sandler can do when he isn’t involved in a film’s production [see: Punch Drunk Love, Spanglish], it is really difficult to comprehend how he can rationalize making films like Grown Ups, Just Go With It and now, Jack & Jill – unless it’s to provide an income for his group of Happy Madison regulars. I just feel sorry for Katie Holmes, who gets to play Jack’s wife Erin – she’s left high and dry.
Even given Pacino’s commitment to the role [he spoofs his past work – Scarface, The Godfather, and more] and the quality of his performance, I cannot possibly recommend Jack & Jill to anyone who isn’t a hardcore Sandler fanatic.
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