So aggressively unfunny is Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill that it seems to have been made in contempt of his fans, rather than for them. With lead characters that range from grating and unlikable to condescending and egocentric, it already would have been difficult to endure Sandler’s one-two kidney punch of comedy pain even before factoring in the uninspired writing and the embarrassment of watching Al Pacino transform into the laziest self-parody ever conceived. Sure, Sandler has had his fair share of detractors over the years -- comedy is, after all, very subjective -- but here all of their arguments coalesce into a perfect storm of awfulness so toxic that it should come with a surgeon general’s warning.
As Thanksgiving approaches, the prospect of losing his biggest client isn’t the only thing stressing Los Angeles advertising executive Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler). In fact, it’s hardly a close second to the fact that his twin sister Jill (also Sandler) will soon be arriving from New York City for her annual visit with the family. Try as she might to smooth out the strained relationship between her irritable husband and his needy, overbearing sister, Jack’s wife Erin (Katie Holmes) has little choice but to sit by and watch as the cyclone of dysfunction keeps spinning. Meanwhile, just before Jill arrives, Jack learns that star client Dunkin’ Donuts may reconsider their decision to seek out a new agency if his team can convince film legend Al Pacino to appear in an advertisement for their latest coffee concoction -- for the simple reason that it happens to rhyme with his name. Later, at a Lakers game, Jack tries his hardest to sell Pacino on the idea, but he hits an unexpected roadblock when the actor becomes smitten with his sister. Now the only way Pacino will agree to appear in the commercial is if Jack can convince Jill to date him. Unfortunately, Jill couldn’t be less interested in Pacino, and as the deadline for the Dunkin’ Donuts account draws near, Jack is forced to take bold action in a last-ditch attempt to save his career.
Though it could be said that the disheartening desperation of Sandler’s brusque ad man in the film parallels the real-life plight of the comedy superstar, it’s hard to believe that he or anyone else involved in Jack and Jill could have actually thought that this depressingly laugh-free comedy vacuum was ever a good idea. Even if you’re one of those people who can’t stand the sight (or sound) of Adam Sandler, you have to feel sorry for him while watching Jack and Jill. In fact, it’s hard to decide which is more disheartening: watching Sandler’s own comic trappings tear him limb from limb onscreen like a pack of rabid jackals, or seeing Al Pacino, a man who’s played some of the most-memorable characters in movie history, feign that selling coffee is a career nadir when he’s been shilling for Vittoria for over a year. Oh, but those ads are in black-and-white, and since it’s a European brand instead of Dunkin’ Donuts apparently that makes it classy rather than crass.
Perhaps astronomers may get some enjoyment out of Jack and Jill since they’re used to staring at black holes all day, but for everyone else this Sandler outing is about as funny as the thought of our sun going supernova. If Sandler has any respect whatsoever for his large and loyal fan base, this would be the perfect time to graciously step back from the spotlight, regroup, and consider taking a vastly different approach to comedy, lest the shrinking goodwill surrounding his name turns outright malignant. leave a comment --Jason Buchanan