Film Review: Jack and Jill…Twice the suck

In Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler’s character, a Los Angeles advertising executive, puzzles over a fantastic feat: how do we get Al Pacino to appear in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial to promote the new “Dunkaccino?”

One wonders if the producers of this film had the same dilemma: how do we get Al Pacino to appear in our new lowbrow, cross-dressing comedy to play Sandler’s love interest?

Seems like an unlikely pairing — like Deepa Mehta and Charlie Sheen, or Meryl Streep and Steven Seagal — but here’s Pacino playing a crazy version of himself, caressing Sandler in drag and doing what looks be the running man.

While the 71-year-old Oscar-winning actor might be the best reason to see this underwhelming movie, the stars are Sandler and, uh, Sandler.

Sandler plays Jack Sadelstein whose most discernible attribute is that he loathes his identical twin sister. Sandler also plays Jill Sadelstein, the obnoxious, loud sibling who speaks with a lisp, keeps a cockatoo as a best friend and loves spooning with her “womb-mate.”

This is not, as one might hope, double the fun.

Sandler seems to be having a good time with his Mrs. Doubtfire/Madea moment but at the audience’s expense. Are slapstick — see Jack fart, see Jill punch people — and scatological jokes worth the $12.99 admission?

Many would say so, since films by Happy Madison (the production company that Sandler founded and named after his early hits, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore) make millions on Sandler’s shtick.

Jack and Jill follows the Happy Madison formula. It’s helmed by director Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry). It stars a lot of Sandler’s SNL friends. It uses goofy characters in scenes that seem like protracted SNL skits. And it has a nice, family-friendly message: love thy sister (or love thyself in drag).

But this 85-minute long feature is a lazy paint-by-numbers Sandler movie lead by two uninteresting and annoying characters, lacklustre writing and a whole whack of celebrities (just like this year’s Oscars).

Jack spends the first act of the movie trying to endure Jill, like the audience, when she comes to visit for Thanksgiving; then he decides to use Jill as bait to get Pacino to dunk some doughnuts.

Along the way, there are appearances by Regis Philbin who is peddling Pepto-Bismol, Drew Carey on the Price Is Right and John McEnroe being angry. There’s also a refreshingly funny bit with Johnny Depp at a Laker’s game. When celebrity cameos are the highlight of your film, you’re in trouble (with the exception of Ben Stiller’s satire Tropic Thunder featuring Tom Cruise’s awesome comedic turn).

Meanwhile, supporting characters are reduced to single quirks – Jack’s daughter carries a doll dressed like herself, his son tapes anything and everything to his body. Katie Holmes who is Jack’s understanding wife, plays her role so soft and straight, you wonder if she’s wandered onto the set thinking this is a family drama starring Al Pacino.

Perhaps the producers spent all of their money and effort to score big names and everything else fell by the wayside. How else would you excuse sloppy editing (the film, for example, cuts from a shot of Jill with her hand on her chest to a side shot with her arm down and then back to her hand on her chest)? The Nutty Professor franchise handled their rapid-fire edits well and they had Eddie Murphy playing everyone.

During a family dinner with the Sadelsteins, a homeless man who is invited for Thanksgiving (played by Sandler’s buddy Allen Covert) decides that he cannot take the bickering and the antics anymore: “This is really awkward. I’m going to go.”

Yes, I feel the same way.

This article was originally published in the National Post on Nov. 11 2011.

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