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Friday, February 3, 2012

Jack and Jill

I really don't have the words to describe just how bad this film is. Well, OK, that's clearly not entirely true...

Also at Channel24 in edited, toned-down form.

What it's about

Jack Sadelstein, a successful family man, has his life invaded by his needy and obnoxious sister whose annual Thanksgiving visit threatens to last for months.

What we thought

That Jack and Jill is a truly rotten, irredeemably crap and absolutely laugh-free really shouldn't be much of a surprise. This is Adam Sandler we're talking about, after all. Sandler is the sort of comedian whose best work is in dramas and whose most tolerable comedies are written entirely by other people. This is also the same Adam Sandler who just in the last year alone gave us the insipid rom-com, Just Go With It; the unbelievably idiotic Zookeeper and, let us not forget, the literally unreleasable Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. And yet, for all of this and for all that Jack and Jill not only features Adam Sandler but Adam Sandler in drag as his own sister, I was still stupefied by just how screechingly awful his latest crime against cinema turned out to be.

We have reached the point where I have to wonder if there is something genuinely psychologically wrong with Adam Sandler. As I sat through one of the longest 80-odd minutes of my life, being engulfed by the never-ending waves of horror that Jack and Jill inflicts without discrimination or mercy on all who are unfortunate enough to be in its presence, I found myself truly troubled by the kind of mind it takes to make such a film. I say this not to make light of those inflicted with mental illness (heaven forbid) but to drive home just how disturbing Sandler's films have now become.

Childishness and juvenile silliness are fairly common ingredients in comedy and are present, in fact, in even the genre's most rightly revered entries. Never mind gross-out, frat-boy comedies, masterpieces like Airplane, Love and Death and Monty Python's entire canon all freely embrace the juvenile and the absurd. With Sandler, however, “juvenile” isn't quite the word to describe his so-called “comedy”. The only words that I could think of to describe his unsavory mix of queasy sexuality and pre-school childishness are the kinds of volatile, incendiary phrases that I can't even bring myself to say out loud.

Jack and Jill's “finest” jokes include Sandler's inexplicably Indian son, inexplicably sticking random objects to his body; “Jill” constantly being asked if she and Jack are identical twins and, best of all, Al freakin' Pacino lecherously leering over ADAM SANDLER IN DRAG! And, of course, as is now typical of Sandler's “comedies” he has his adult, male characters talk in this truly revolting mix of baby-talk and stalkery lasciviousness. This isn't comedy - this is creepier psychological horror than anything that Stephen King, David Cronenburg and Alfred Hitchcock put together could ever come up with and I simply don't have the stomach for it.

Worst of all – worse even than the embarrased-looking celebrity cameos – is when this creepy “comedy” gives way to stomach-churning sentimentality and insanely misplaced moralizing. Sandler creeping me out is bad enough but when he starts trying to teach me a lesson or tug on my heartstrings, it's all I can do to not start throwing things (like my vomit) at the screen. There's nothing here that's quite as duplicitous as the “moral” message of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry – the film that spends most of its time making fun of gay people before standing up in its last minutes and telling us how wrong it is to make fun of gay people – but that doesn't make Jack and Jill any less of a trial of endurance.

Jack and Jill is Adam Sandler throwing down the gauntlet: as he challenges fellow filmmakers to make a worse film this year, he dares you, the audience, to give him even more money to do this sort of thing again. But please, ignore the taunts, decline the challenge, put down that bloody gauntlet – just say no. This is one battle I promise you will not win.


  1. I personally had a mind vomit while watching this film, the saddest part is how this will probably make more bucks than genuinely remarkable films like The Descendants.

  2. Oh, sadly, that's not even a question. It's already made over seventy million dollars in the US alone, which is about seventy million dollars too much.