Rule number one is that you go into every movie with an open mind. No matter how bad the trailer makes it look; no matter how imbecilic the premise is; no matter how terrible the previous films made by the same people have been; you always allow for the possibility that the movie will be good. In fact, you do more than that: you HOPE it will be good. If you find yourself going into theaters WANTING to hate the movies, you should probably stop going into theaters.
I mention this up front so you will know that even though “Jack and Jill” — in which Adam Sandler plays both a regular guy and that guy’s annoying twin sister — has a trailer that makes it look awful, and has an unworkable premise, and was made by people who have made an abundance of stupid movies in the past, I went into it hoping for the best. I didn’t pre-judge it based on how miserable it seemed like it was probably going to be. And now, having seen the film, I can tell you that it is indeed every bit as lousy as it looks.
So kudos to the marketing department, I guess. They nailed this one.
Sandler plays Jack Sadelstein, a TV commercial director with a wife who for some reason is Katie Holmes, a son who for some reason is Indian, and a daughter who doesn’t do anything of note. Jack grew up in the Bronx, where his twin sister still lives and evidently kept developing her Bronx accent after Jack moved to California. Everyone hates Jill because she’s loud, crass, clueless, obnoxious, needy, unreasonable, unhygienic, and ugly. Her poor social skills are probably the consequence of her dreadful physical appearance — she looks like Adam Sandler in drag, after all, and Adam Sandler ain’t exactly a “Gossip Girl” extra to begin with. Whatever the reason, she’s dreadful and she should die, the end.
Anyway, Jill comes to visit for Thanksgiving and stays indefinitely, during which time Jack tries to find her a boyfriend through some online dating sites. She goes on a date with Norm Macdonald, who is astonished by her physical appearance even though her picture was included in her profile. (The people who made the movie don’t care. Ugly girls are funny!) She also goes for a pony ride and breaks the pony’s legs. She’s so “fat” she literally collapses a pony. She’s pony-collapsingly fat. Of course, she’s actually not fat at all, and doesn’t weigh any more than her brother, but hey, ugly girls are supposed to be fat, so there.
Meanwhile, Jack is going to lose the Dunkin Donuts account unless he can get Al Pacino to appear in the commercial. There’s no way Pacino would do it, though, because a TV commercial would be beneath him. The movie gets a lot of mileage out of this premise, never realizing that it is negated by Pacino’s appearance in this very movie. Jack stalks Pacino at a Lakers game, Pacino meets Jill and is smitten with her, maybe Jack can use his sister to get Pacino to do the commercial, Jill rebuffs Pacino and Jack has to put on a dress and a wig and pretend to be her, yada yada, the rest writes itself, David Spade has a cameo, everybody goes home and weeps.
The director is named Dennis Dugan. This is the seventh Sandler movie he has directed, so he’s gotten pretty good at letting everybody do whatever they want and not caring whether it’s funny. He’s gotten pretty good at showing up on the set, turning on the cameras, then taking a nap on the floor, is what I mean. The screenplay is credited to Steve Koren (“Click,” “A Night at the Roxbury”) and Sandler, from a “story” by Ben Zook. In Hollywood parlance, that probably means Zook wrote the original screenplay, then Sandler bought it and Sandlered it up, i.e., added broad physical comedy and bit parts for his friends. As in most of Sandler’s lazier films, characters behave without motivation and make changes in their lives only because they’ve arrived at the point in the movie where characters are supposed to make changes in their lives. (Should you be unfortunate enough to see this film, I defy you to tell me why Jack changes his mind about Jill at the end.)
I don’t know what Pacino is doing here, but he’s having fun with it. The guy’s insane. Does he know how bad the movie is? He must. But he fully commits to every stupid thing he’s required to do, which goes a long way toward making some of those stupid things bearable. His Dunkin Donuts commercial (spoiler alert: he winds up doing it) is genuinely funny as a parody of awful, embarrassing ads. The sad part is that the rest of the movie is every bit as bad as that intentionally bad commercial.
D (1 hr., 33 min.; )