Ever wondered what it would be like to see Adam Sandler in drag?
If you answered yes, then his latest comedy, “Jack and Jill,” is right in your wheelhouse. For the rest of us, it’s another in a series of poorly chosen comedies that has derailed a promising career for Sandler.
Like his previous two films, “Grown Ups” and “Just Go With It,” this is a comedy that seems to be less about laughs and more about Sandler trying to cash a paycheck.
In “Jack and Jill,” Sandler plays both title characters - siblings who have been at odds with each other all their lives.
Jack is an ad executive living in Los Angeles with his wife (Katie Holmes) and kids. Jill is an eccentric loner in New York who comes to L.A. to visit her brother for Thanksgiving.
Jill’s strange behavior starts another series of blowups between the siblings.
When Jill becomes the key to Jack possibly landing Al Pacino for a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, Jack tries to become matchmaker - desperately trying to connect his uninterested sister with the iconic actor.
If you’ve seen the trailer (which I heard one person compare to the parody ads in “Tropic Thunder”) then I probably don’t have to tell you how bad this is.
Shockingly, I did find two positives. The first is interview footage from actual twins that bookends the film. I found both of those segments to be rather interesting, and also out of place with the rest of the proceedings.
The other positive is Pacino, who goes all-in and delivers an insanely over-the-top performance that feels like it stumbled in from another movie. His comic timing is razor sharp here - especially in a scene where he stops in the middle of a stage performance to chastise an audience member whose cellphone goes off in the middle of the show.
But those small rays of light are eclipsed by a film that spends the bulk of the 100-minute running time allowing Sandler to essentially bring his Gap Girl character from “Saturday Night Live” to the big screen.
It quickly wears thin, as the jokes about bodily functions and the homeless pile up. It’s all painfully unfunny - ending with Sandler’s career officially hitting rock bottom.
“Jack and Jill” may not be the worst film I’ve seen this year, but it is pretty darn close.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is the latest from writer/director J.J. Abrams - “Super 8” (A-), a fun homage to early Steven Spielberg films (who served as one of the producers of “Super 8”). It’s a smart blend of everything from “Jaws” to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to “E.T.” to “Goonies.”
“Super 8” tells the story of a group of teenage friends in a small Ohio town in 1979 that is making a zombie movie on a super 8 camera. While filming one of the scenes at a nearby train station, they witness a horrific train crash.
Soon after the crash, the military arrives for a top-secret cleanup. Meanwhile, unusual disappearances and other inexplicable events begin to happen and the kids soon realize that their footage could be the key to unlocking the mystery.
One of the great joys of “Super 8” is the sense of discovery, so it’s best to leave the plot points to a minimum. Even if you see the big twist coming (and honestly, you probably will), it’s still an enjoyable ride, thanks in large part to Abrams and a very talented young cast. And while the twist is a part of the movie, it doesn’t overshadow the strong human element, which works because of the cast.
Joel Courtney plays lead character Joe, who has recently lost his mother, and is very interesting, reminding me of Sean Astin in “The Goonies.”
Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota, is also very good as the young girl whom the friends enlist to help them with the zombie movie. She is also smart, but perfectly captures the charm and aura of that first crush, something I think any person can identify with.
The movie within the movie also provides some nice laughs, especially from Riley Griffiths, who plays the aspiring filmmaker.
Some might argue that Abrams follows the Spielberg blueprint a little too much. While I can see that point, I see it more as a way to pay tribute to the director. This is a film that is a throwback to that era, the big summer movie that could both entertain and enlighten.
This might not be the most original piece of work, but it’s one of those films that show that sometimes familiar can be a good thing.
“Super 8” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use and will be available on DVD on Tuesday.