But there’s more to it than that. It’s not just a film about Adam Sandler in a woman suit and Al Pacino slumming it like successful career choices have gone out of fashion. No. It’s a film about missed opportunities, lost potential, no potential, past potential, wasted potential and of course poo jokes and fart jokes. And lots of pooing and farting. Sometimes together, sometimes not. It’s creative like that.
However whilst I would love to give the 97 minutes of wasted celluloid a good raking over with a few rounds from a shotgun, a can of petrol and some horribly puerile similes and metaphors (god there’s so much potential here for a good old rant) – which I will – it’s hard to do so when I’m so utterly bewildered. When cinema can be such a powerful force. When you have so much money and industry power at your disposal. When you obviously have at least a modicum of acting talent. Why not do something great with your time. Why make commercial refuse? Why make this?
The film as everyone by now is horribly aware is a prosthetics and tiaras affair (à la Big Momma’s House and the second half of Eddie Murphy’s career) in which Adam Sandler plays both of the titular roles. He firstly stars as a grumpy career oriented ad exec living a comfortable life in Los Angeles with his prim and proper wife (played by Katie Holmes). His second role in this tour de force is that of Jill, Jack’s loud, stupid twin sister who is much less successful and much less tactful. Then Al Pacino arrives and fancies her and everything takes a turn for the surreal.
Short of the unfunny rubbish, the rubbish unfunny stuff and that gently amusing joke about Pacino only ever receiving one Oscar (which is in the trailer incidentally so why not save yourself the time and the money) the film has so much more to offer in the way of disappointment. It’s not really even worth reviewing properly. it’s just terrible. Need you know more? I’m guessing you won’t be rushing out to watch it anytime soon.
I mean, what was going through the heads of everyone involved? Sandler has proven himself to be utterly terrible at picking roles and passable at delivering them time after time. However let’s not forget that he hasn’t always been so bad. In 2002 he starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love and was quite simply awesome. Ever since then with the possible exception of Reign Over Me he’s taken a career trajectory of diminishing critical returns. He received $7 million to star in Punch Drunk Love yet he routinely receives $20 million+ salaries to produce commercial silage devoid of any artistic merit whatsoever. He’s shown he can act and he’s shown that he has a huge amount of creative control and executive power when it comes to making films, so why oh why oh why is he so utterly lazy?
I mean just look at Jack and Jill on paper. A $80 million budget with which Sandler will dress as a woman and ‘klutz around’. Oh and Johnny Depp will have a cameo and Al Pacino will ruin his career. Sold. It just boggles my mind that these talented people squander their myriad opportunities to create something great on rubbish like this.
This time around Sandler is his usual passable self as Jack but as Jill he really starts to grate about two seconds after appearing on screen sporting a hairpiece and prosthetic bum combination that pretty much constitutes the artistic zenith of his performance. I can’t quite decide what’s less tasteful, her vaguely racist remarks to her adopted Indian nephew or the fact that she has unresolved incestuous feelings for her brother which she creepily airs at certain points in order to apparently elicit laughter. Stumbling all over the screen like a BNP sympathising, loose bowelled Norman Wisdom, she falls over here, offends an ethnic minority there and farts thither an hither. Did I mention there’s farting?
It’s not even funny in a bad way. It’s hard to put a film in the so bad it’s good category when all it does is make you sad. Adam Sandler has managed to make watching the self-immolation of Hollywood movie stars a boring and tedious act. Gone are the days when you could sit back and laugh watching Lindsay Lohan pole dancing her way into an early retirement. Gone are the days when watching Guy Ritchie’s ‘early noughties phase’ was a questionable viewing pleasure. Now we have Sandler – a man eternally alight with a million miscalculations – up in flames on a seemingly bi-monthly basis. However earning $20 million dollars to humiliate yourself before millions does have a certain ring to it.
One also has to wonder how much Pacino was getting paid to debase himself in the name of self-satire. That he does this through playing someone with an artistic integrity that Jack spends most of the film wearing down only makes his presence even more excruciating. It’s less Being Al Pacino and more Being an Idiot. And I thought Robert De Niro was going through a late career malaise…
Jack and Jill was released in UK cinemas on the 3rd of February.