Andy Bockelman: Double the Sandler insanity in ‘Jack and Jill’
November 21, 2011
“Jack and Jill”
2 out of 4 stars
Starring: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Eugenio Derbez and Al Pacino.
When Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase "Fish and visitors stink after three days," he must have had a houseguest such as the one in "Jack and Jill" in mind.
But, even Poor Richard himself would long for a nice rotting trout after spending 24 hours with the second half of this duo.
It'd probably be more attractive, too.
Thanksgiving is a time reserved for family. That's why Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) dreads Turkey Day more and more each year. His wife (Katie Holmes) and kids (Elodie Tougne, Rohan Chand) aren't the problem, nor are his in-laws (Valerie Mahaffey, Geoff Pierson).
The source of his misery is his twin sister, Jill (Sandler), whose annual visit to California from the Bronx is always pure hell. Yet, nobody else in the family seems to notice how clingy, clueless and clumsy Jill can be, seeing her as a pure delight.
When his sibling decides to extend her stay through the holidays, Jack is counting down the days until he can finally be rid of her.
But, the more he protests, the more it becomes apparent that Jill isn't leaving anytime soon.
In his most recent movies, Sandler has been on auto-pilot as the same kind of guy: highly successful career-wise, slightly short-tempered and surrounded by people with all kinds of quirkiness. Pulling double duty as one of the aforementioned oddballs lets him get back to his roots.
You may remember Jill's shrieky falsetto as the voice he used playing countless mothers and grandmothers in his "Saturday Night Live" sketches and comedy albums, but whether you liked it the first time around may be up for debate. Even if the bit is worn out by now, Sandler's Jill is oddly endearing, despite being unbelievably annoying, technologically-challenged, disaster-prone, sweaty…
The list goes on.
The man in the skirt manages to constitute almost the entire female presence of the movie, with a miscast Holmes barely getting a word in edgewise. She's not the only A-lister who's unneeded, with multiple celebrity pop-ins sprinkled in among Sandler's usual gang — David Spade, Dana Carvey, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, Norm MacDonald and plenty more — but the biggest name in the cast works his part for all its worth.
Yes, Al Pacino joins the ranks of fellow actors of his generation like Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken who lend their expertise to Sandler's shenanigans. But, here's a twist — "The Godfather" star plays himself in the midst of a career slump.
Bad news for commercial director Jack, who wants the depressed "Dog Day Afternoon" actor to endorse a product, but the muse who could help old Serpico get back on track just happens to be Jack's one-time wombmate.
An actor playing twins is nothing new, and not everything involving dual roles can result in gold like Hayley Mills in "The Parent Trap" or Nicolas Cage in "Adaptation." Similarly, a dude in drag is always worth a few laughs even if nobody does it like the members of "Monty Python's Flying Circus."
If you're wondering if combining both these gags is as much overkill as it sounds like, the answer depends entirely on how much you go in for the Sandman and his band of merry men in their various films made under the Happy Madison banner.
To be fair, the single joke of this feature can be pretty funny. Watching Sandler in a wig while Jill causes chaos — crushing a pony, smacking an elderly woman in the face with a flip-flop, knocking herself unconscious spinning the big wheel as a contestant on "The Price Is Right" — is hardly anything you could call intellectual, but since when has the star demanded much from his audience?
With moments ranging from agreeably silly to confoundingly stupid, "Jack and Jill" will likely win some giggles from the people who enjoyed Sandler's "Just Go With It" and "Zookeeper" earlier this year.
Still, the more skeptical viewers will probably understand the appeal about as much as anybody else understands the brother/sister team's made-up childhood language.
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