Movie Review: Jack and Jill (2011)

Can someone please explain to me what the f@&! happened to Adam Sandler?

I guess I am just a glutton for punishment.  After hearing that Sandler’s latest comedy about twins, Jack and Jill, in which he plays both titular characters, raked in the Razzies nominations, I decided to check it out because it made me curious.

Could it really be that bad?  After all, I had seen some real shockers last year, and the Razzies usually tend to be based on hype more than anything else.  Most of the time the winners were nowhere near the worst films of the year, or so I believed.

And thus I held out a little bit of hope for Jack and Jill.  Sadly, while I doubt it is the worst film of 2011, it was a colossal disappointment, even by Sandler’s recently abysmal standards. And hey, I loved his earlier films like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Waterboy and so forth.

Jack and Jill is just so wrong on so many levels.  Sandler plays Jack, an advertising executive married to the most thankless character I’ve seen in years, played by Katie Holmes (I’ll get to her later, don’t you worry).  He is what you would probably call a “normal guy”.  His twin sister Jill, also played by Sandler, is an overweight, embarrassing, ignorant and probably slightly mentally challenged woman who comes to stay with him for a little while.  During her stay, Jill somehow inexplicably catches the attention and affection of Al Pacino (played by the real deal), whom Jack is trying to get for one of his commercials.  And I can’t believe I just tried to explain the plot of this film.

The biggest problem with Jack and Jill is that it’s just not very funny, especially when Jack and Jill are on screen, which is almost all the time.  I don’t know why, but lately Sandler keeps playing these rich, “normal guys”, probably versions of himself, who are complete dickheads.  Jack is no different.  He’s just his mean, highly unlikable guy who’s pretty much a big bully.  I know he also plays Jill, but this feels different because she’s a woman and we know she’s nothing like Sandler in real life.  And the whole film is essentially Jill, who is actually quite likable despite her flaws, being bullied.

You can probably already guess what happens. Jack can’t stand Jill at the start of the movie and tries to use her to get to Pacino, but in the end he realises…need I say more?

In fact, I’ve come to realise that most of Sandler’s films follow this same trajectory nowadays, and it stinks. Jack and Jill painfully reminded me of one of the worst films I saw in 2010, the appalling Grown Ups, in which Sandler and his comedian buddies were about as unfunny as I had ever seen them.

Here, watching Sandler on screen was as funny as watching some successful millionaire make fun of a handicapped person begging on the side of the street.  When I saw him revert to incredibly obvious and lame toilet humour I knew he had hit a new low.

The only thing that saved the film from complete disaster was the great Al Pacino, playing the great Al Pacino…or at least a caricature of the great Al Pacino. I have no idea how they convinced him to star in this movie, but Pacino was the film’s saving grace and provided essentially all the laughs — though to be fair even he was a little hit and miss at times.

Oh, and before I forget, Katie Holmes.  Is this what Tom Cruise allows her to do these days?  Really?  She did basically nothing.  A pot plant could have played her role, and probably could have done it better.  It made me wonder whatever happened to her after carving out a successful TV career in Dawson’s Creek.  Sure, she was popular for a while, especially after she bared her gifts in The Gift, but has she had a role in which her character really mattered since?  Batman Begins, maybe, but remember how much better The Dark Knight was without her in it?  It’s a tragedy because I think she has a lot more potential.

I hate to finish on a sour note after this rant, but the truth is Sandler needs to get back to his roots, where “character development” takes a back seat to just plain old silly fun.  That’s what he was good at and that’s what he’s always been good at.  His earlier movies were funny because he made fun of himself.  Now he is, explicitly or implicitly, making fun of others who don’t deserve the ridicule, and that’s just not fun to watch.

1.5 stars out of 5

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