man I feel like a coke right now…wonder why?

Re-blogged from my post in Bristol’s Inter:Mission…

Adam Sandler has always been a bit of a mystery to me. He’s clearly shown us he can bring the funny with films like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. He’s even demonstrated his ability to take on romantic leads in The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. I’d even go so far as to say that his range extends further into dramatic roles, with stellar performances in Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me and more recently Funny People. So why then is this seemingly versatile actor making such half-hearted attempts at films, such as Jack and Jill?

Sandler is by no means an idiot; don’t let all the fart jokes and buffoonery fool you. He graduated from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in 1988 and within 2 years landed a gig as writer on comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live. He was then promoted to featured player the next year, due to his talent for writing amusing songs on the guitar, his hilarious Hanukka song being his most famous one. This legacy arguably set the trend for future SNL ventures into music as evidenced by the hilarious collaborations between Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake for Dick in Box and Motherlover.

So even though we can establish that Sandler is both smart and funny, why-oh-why has he been churning out multi-razzie winning films these last few years? I call my first witness: Jack and Jill

 Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) is a successful advertising executive in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife (Katie Holmes) and kids, who dreads one event each year: the Thanksgiving visit of his identical twin sister Jill (also Adam Sandler). Jill’s neediness and passive-aggressiveness is maddening to Jack, turning his normally tranquil life upside down [Columbia Pictures]

The plot summary above describes the first ten minutes of the film, which is about the point where coherency falls to pieces and the funny goes to die. We learn that Sandler’s character Jack has two adopted kids, both weird, but ultimately there to prove that Jack is a nice guy, when he’s not being a complete twat to his own family. Katie Holmes shows up as his wife, and I emphasize ‘shows up’ as she barely makes any impact on the plot, except to play the dual role of ‘nagging and forgiving wife’, while sharing absolutely no chemistry with any of the actors who play her family, including the adopted kids.

And then you have Jill…surprisingly not Adam Sandler’s first time in drag. He used to perform a popular recurring sketch on SNL with David Spade and Chris Farley, highlighting the exaggerated silly things you might overhear New York woman say. That type of humour may still exist in today’s ‘Shit Girls Say’ memes floating about on the internet, but sadly the drag element to Sandler’s Jack and Jill seems pointless and outdated.

The actual plot of the film revolves around Jack needing to convince Al Pacino to appear in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, or risk losing his advertising agency. Hilarity does not ensue. While on a trip to intercept Pacino at a Lakers game, Jill catches the eye of the award-winning actor and rejects him immediately, thus setting up the inevitable, ‘I’ll do your commercial if you set me up with you sister’ scenario. What follows is a sad portrayal of a talented actor (Pacino) trying his best to ‘do comedy’. But the real issue I have with this film is the unashamedly and overzealous use of product placement throughout. There are so many examples that I’d probably earn a royalty check for just mentioning them. It was only in the last five minutes of the film when Jack plays the Dunkin Donuts commercial, for Pacino, that it all of a sudden clicked for me. Was this entire film just one big elaborate scheme to get Pacino to sell out? Was it all a big hoax from the beginning? And is Sandler a marketing genius!?!

I can picture it now…Adam Sandler is approached by Dunkin Donuts to see if he can achieve the impossible task of convincing the great Al Pacino to endorse their product. And then he actually manages to do it, by creating this absurd facade of a film to cloak the real reason behind it! Has Sandler dick-nosed us, the audience, into thinking this is just some simple slapstick comedy when in actual fact it’s a ninety minute commercial, masquerading as a film? Ultimately, Sandler is running a great business model here, making sure his pals and fellow comedians are employed all year ‘round. Jack and Jill is currently sitting on a worldwide gross of $142 million against a budget of $79 million, and that’s not accounting for the ad revenue in product placements. This seems more like a great investment opportunity and less like a film worthy of calling itself a comedy.

There’s a scene at the end of the first viewing of the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial where Al Pacino says to Jack: ‘Burn it…no one must ever see this’ – if only that revelation occurred to him while reading the script.
Grade: E+


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