Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Review: Jack and Jill

Decades and decades ago, all an actor had to do to make audiences fall over with laughter was put on a dress. This is a major reason the in-no-way-funny Tootsie and Some Like it Hot are remembered as classics. Adam Sandler pulls out the old gag for Jack and Jill, in which he plays a jaded commercial director and his identical twin. In this post White Chicks and Sorority Boys era, the device has all the edge and freshness of “Take my wife… Please!”

Jack and Jill is as full of old-timey humor as your grandpa after a few swigs of gin. A screwball comedy with a set of extra balls, it trots out proven standbys in hopes that that some spacetime wormhole in between the screen and audience somehow warps the jokes into something resembling funny. Among the artifacts the yuk-yuk factory cranks out are a Blazing Saddles-like fart symphony, goofy beards and given-up-for-career-death Katie Holmes as a romantic lead.

That said, the movie is a lot better than what Sandler has subjected his fans to in recent years. By no means a Grown Ups or The Longest Yard remake style debacle, Jack and Jill is a half-chuckle funnier than Just Go with It and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. This is mainly due to self-mocking product placement, a dancing Al Pacino and an inspired sequence of Sandler-in-drag accidentally pummeling an old woman.

The presence of Pacino is probably the most important game-changer. Since Sandler’s dual roles cancel each other out, Pacino is pretty much the star of the show. He parodies his performances in The Godfather films, Scarface and Scent of a Woman, making such a fool of himself that it’s almost certain that he lost a bet to Sandler that made him his slave for a month.

The plot calls on regular Sandler – annoyed by a visit from his overbearing, inappropriate-acting twin Sandler – to hook his sister up with Pacino in order to get him to star in a Dunkin Donuts ad that will save his company. Pacino is so convincing as he puts the moves on Sandlerette that he truly deserves that Golden Globe nomination his handlers will probably buy for him.

Anyone who follows the actor absolutely has to see this movie for the inexplicable spectacle, especially for his song and dance number at the end of the movie that will haunt your nightmares for years to come. Pacino’s critics have said he’s turned into a parody of himself over the past decade, and he takes that accusation and runs with it here, going so far that you almost feel bad for him – like an overweight comedian who keeps telling fat jokes at his own expense.

Also making the movie fun to watch is an overflowing amount of cameos. Johnny Depp wearing a Justin Bieber shirt, David Spade’s face attached to someone else’s body and Subway’s Jared holding court at a party are among the strange sights that will be forever scarred into your mind.

The more I think about the movie, the more I like it, but I still don’t like it enough to recommend you expose your recession-drained wallet to its particular brand insanity in a wig and dress.

Starring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino and Nick Swardson. Written by Steve Koren, based on a Ben Zook story. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Rated PG. 91 minutes.

My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.

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