November 11, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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JACK AND JILLNot At Any Price – 2 Adam Sandlers is 2 Too Many


Does anyone really expect an Adam Sandler movie to be good anymore?  Seriously, if you put aside his occasional relatively serious efforts (Funny People, Reign Over Me, Spanglish, Punch-Drunk Love, all boxoffice failures), and the occasional passable vehicle like Just Go With It earlier this year, what was the last Sandler movie that was actually enjoyable?  Grown Ups?  Bedtime Stories?  You Don’t Mess With the Zohan?  I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry?  Click?  The Longest Yard?  How far back do you want to go?

And yet, except for those “serious” misfires, every one of those movies has made money.  So JACK AND JILL, which even by Sandler standards is pretty awful (it’s currently at a 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 1 favorable review against 51 negatives), is likely to do the same.

The concept of J&J is that if you love Sandler alone, you’ll pass out with  bliss if there are 2 of him.  So Sandler plays both commercial producer Jack Sadelstein, who has a palatial house, a lovely wife (Katie Holmes, mutely pleading for even once chance to be funny) and 2 kids, and the bane of Jack’s existence, his twin sister Jill.  Jill is whiny, needy, unattractrive, passive-aggressive, loaded with personal hygiene issues and generally pathetic, and Jack is hard-pressed to put up with her even for a 4-day Thanksgiving weekend.  But then he has to encourage her to stay even longer, because in a monumental contrivance, he needs to sign Al Pacino to appear in a Dunkin Donuts commercial (this is the actual Al Pacino playing Al Pacino), and Pacino is head over heels in love with Jill.

The laziness of Jack and Jill is staggering.    While Sandler deserves due credit for fully committing when he works with real filmmakers,when it comes to the star vehicles produced by his Happy Madison production company, he knows he doesn’t have to exert himself.  J&J, like most of those vehicles, is made almost exclusively by Sandler’s old buddies:   director Dennis Dugan (his 7th Sandler vehicle) writer Steve Koren (with Sandler himself), and a supporting cast that features such Happy Madison stalwarts as Allen Covert, Nick Swardson and David Spade.

Sandler’s performance(s), too, couldn’t be more lacking in effort.  Playing Jill, he just puts on a funny voice out of his SNL skits and wears ugly outfits.  (When Jack himself goes into drag to impersonate Jill, there’s no difference between the “real” Jill and Jack’s version of her–and it’s not because Jack is a brilliant actor.)  No one involved with the movie had any interest in creating believable characters or involving relationships–it’s all rudimentary plot mechanics, fart and diarrhea and belching jokes, with a little cloying sentimentality and politically correct crypto-racism (the gardener played by Eugenio Derbez intersperses Latino stereotype gags with grimaces of “I’m keeding!”) mixed in.

The only one who didn’t seem to get the memo about how little effort is required here (how did this movie cost a reported $80M?  Does Dennis Dugan quietly put half his budgets in land investments?  Is Happy Madison laundering Colombian drug money?) is, of all people, Al Pacino.  Pacino seems to think he’s in Tootsie, or at least he’s going to pretend he is, and he throws himself into the woeful material with absolute conviction, mining every conceivable laugh with a limitless willingness to mock himself, and shaming everyone around him.

It’s probably too much to hope, let alone expect, that Adam Sandler would take any of the intelligence and skill he’s shown in his infrequent forays out of his comfort zone, and put them into his franchise movies.  As they are, they clearly entertain people, or else audiences wouldn’t flock to them every year.  Sandler, who by all accounts is a genuinely good guy, gets to pal around with his friends for a few months every year, mug for the camera, and bank millions of dollars–who can blame him?  If he could just make them a bit less actively painful… but no, not likely.  Jack and Jill will doubtless feed the beast that is the Sandler fanbase.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."