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Jack and Jill

November 12, 2011
Jack and Jill

Some of my faith in humanity was restored by the fact that the theater was almost deserted when I saw Jack and Jill. Then it was dashed when I realized that almost all of them brought along young children; Adam Sandler fans are breeding. Thankfully, if there’s one movie that cannot be ruined by people too busy laughing at fart jokes to prevent their offspring from squalling or running rampant, this is it.

Jack Sadelstein (Sandler) is a successful ad director in southern California, with a beautiful wife, Erin (Katie Holmes). Their two children — one biological daughter, Sofia (Elodie Tougne), and one adopted son, Gary (Rohan Chand) — seem to be Sandler’s go-to place to load up on quirks, just like the kids were in Just Go With It. Anyway, back in the Bronx where Jack grew up is his twin sister, Jill (also Sandler), who is coming out for a Thanksgiving weekend which will stretch on into eternity if Jack can’t do something about it.

Look, can I stop now and plead for a moratorium on cross-dressed multicasting for comedic effect? It wasn’t funny when Eddie Murphy did it; it wasn’t funny when Tyler Perry did it; it’s not funny now, and in fact it’s a little bit sad when this is how Sandler finally admits that he’s run creatively dry. Oh, and it’s also not funny that he drags Eugenio Derbez — playing both Jack’s jokingly-stereotyped Mexican landscaper Felipe and Felipe’s toothless grandmother — down with him before his English career can even get off the ground.

Sandler manages to drag in a huge cast of recognizables. Some — Rob Schneider, Norm MacDonald, David Spade, Tim Meadows, Dana Carvey — are expected friends from his Saturday Night Live days; some — Regis Philbin, Shaquille O’Neal, Johnny Depp, Bruce Jenner — are inexplicable celebrity cameos. Nick Swardson isn’t a surprise, given that Sandler’s level of comedy is actually a step up for him, but Al Pacino is gobsmacking. He throws himself head over heels into playing his own pursuit of Jill, as well as Jack’s target for an upcoming ad campaign. I can’t figure out why Jack is worried about Pacino lowering himself to advertize Dunkin’ Donuts’ “dunkacino”; after all, he’s playing this role, isn’t he?

Which reminds me: it’s not really a coincidence that Sandler plays an ad man, since the only film I’ve seen with more obvious product placement is POM Wonderful™ presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The last half is basically one long Royal Caribbean commercial — ironically for a package they don’t actually seem to offer.

I’ve complained before about lowbrow humorists going lower and lower over the years — the Farrelly brothers are a particularly egregious example — but somehow Adam Sandler has managed to bill his recent outings as family fare, to be preceded by trailers for Dr. Seuss-derived films. Sure, there’s no swearing, no nudity, and only cartoonish violence, but is that really how low the bar has gotten? There was an article in this week’s New York Times Magazine by a woman in her twenties who feels old because she no longer gets every internet subculture; somehow I feel better feeling old over the decline of what passes for entertainment.

Worth It: on no level whatsoever.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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