Adam Sandler Sticks to Formula in ‘Jack and Jill’

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Average: 2.3 (3 votes) Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – No one will ever accuse Adam Sandler of not knowing his audience and the reason they keep coming back to his “Happy Madison” genre of films – he delivers the oddball characters, lots of bodily fluids/sounds, physical beatings and the know-it-all straight man. Add the gooey sentiment and out spews the latest, “Jack and Jill.”

There are ardent admirers of the Sandler style, his films are huge successes. Someday he will go to the well once too often, or will get too old to get a shot in the groin, but for now “Jack and Jill” is going up the box office hill. Sandler also has crossed into the movie comic’s go-to character, a dual role as a woman (in drag). There is no nuance as he plays the twins named Jack and Jill, but nobody goes to an Adam Sandler film for subtlety.

Sandler is Jack Sadelstein, a high level (and rich) partner at a Los Angeles advertising firm. With Thanksgiving coming up, he makes his holiday plans, which includes hosting his twin sister from the Bronx, Jill (Sandler, again). There is a wrench in these plans in the form of Dunkin Donuts, one of Jack’s biggest clients. It seems they want to have Al Pacino (playing himself) as the spokesperson for their new “Dunkaccino” (product placement) and Jack is not sure he can make it happen.

It’s Funny Because She Can’t Mow: Adam Sandler as Jill and Eugenio Derbez as Felipe in ‘Jack and Jill’
It’s Funny Because She Can’t Mow: Adam Sandler as Jill and Eugenio Derbez as Felipe in ‘Jack and Jill’
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

When Jill arrives on Thanksgiving, she is an obnoxious lout (surprise!), and excretes many bodily fluids. She also is depressed without a man, and wants to extend her stay to find one. Through a set of circumstances that involves Johnny Depp, Al Pacino develops a crush on her. Pacino tells Jack if he can deliver Jill, he will do the ad for Dunkin Donuts. Regrettably, Jill is also pursued by Jack’s gardener, Felipe (Eugenio Derbez), and this puts everything into a quandary. Hopefully a shot in the groin or Adam Sandler acting desperately inappropriate as Jack or Jill will lift all boats in this situation.

There are funny bits in “Jack and Jill,” it’s impossible to miss with the whole film. But the emphasis is on the word “bits,” because that is where the laughs originate – in tiny, tiny little bits. This simply repeats the formula of previous Sandler films, and any kind of “character” for Jill is lost in her in the role of scapegoat for all the stupid gags. Jill acts like a mental patient, yet everyone loves her. Even Sandler’s goofy vocal effects sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. Literally, screenwriter Steve Koren uses Jill like a rodeo clown or a fart in an elevator, as unseemly a presence as possible.

Al Pacino is fascinating in his role as “Al Pacino.” There must have been several zeroes on that fat paycheck he received, because he was game for almost any type of Sandler-esque frivolity. Maybe his kids, or in his case grandkids, wanted him to do it. Regardless, he sweats like a racehorse going through the mechanics of being Sandler-ized, but also delivers some truly strange stuff, including improper cellphone use and recitation of some old lines from “The Godfather.” There is a point in the film where he wants to destroy a performance that is captured on DVD. He might want to consider taking the same action with this film.

There are Sandler’s stock characters and friends making cameos or quick roles. He convinced Depp, Drew Carey, Norm MacDonald, John McEnroe, Christie Brinkley and Subway’s Jared Fogle to briefly appear. Old SNL pal Tim Meadows plays his ad partner, David Spade truly has a potential career-killing role and oddly Katie Holmes portrays Jack’s wife Erin. Eugenio Derbez adds the stereo in stereotype as the Hispanic gardener, but again the role is so oddball it actually works a bit. There’s that word again, “bit.”

Hoo-Ha?: Al Pacino and Adam Sandler in ‘Jack and Jill’
Hoo-Ha?: Al Pacino and Adam Sandler in ‘Jack and Jill’
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

Jack and Jill are supposedly twins, and the film even adds testimonials from real twins, but for the most part the connection is never explored. Jill is a prop, given all the heavy lifting of the obnoxious Sandler persona, and besides using the twin element for a stupid secret language and the gooey sentimentalism toward the end, the production might as well had not bothered making them twins.

What makes us laugh is the fingerprint of our perspective, different for everyone. Adam Sandler has struck a nerve in the funny bones of so many filmgoers over the years, and his filmography is so heavily viewed again and again, it’s defies logic to call his films childish, freaky, stupid and unfunny. But I will.

“Jack and Jill” opens everywhere on November 11th. Featuring Adam Sandler, Al Pacino, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, Drew Carey, Johnny Depp, Eugenio Derbez and Katie Holmes. Screenplay by Steve Koren, story by Ben Zook. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Rated “PG senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2011 Patrick McDonald,

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