Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino, Dana Carvey, Shaquille O'Neal
Ben Zook, Robert Smigel and Steve Koren
Laughing is Contagious;
Here Comes Jill;
Look Who Stopped By;
Boys Will Be Girls
With Jack & Jill, it's hard not to picture Adam Sandler sitting down and writing a letter to the folks at the Razzie Awards and saying "I haven't been nominated for awhile, so I thought I'd make a film called Jack & Jill where I play both parts and remind you just how much more convincing Eddie Murphy AND Martin Lawrence are in drag."
Jack & Jill isn't an awful film but it's incredibly close, a film destined to be even more ravaged by the film critics than Sandler usually experiences. It's hard to imagine anyone but Sandler's most hardcore fans (of which I am one) standing in line to catch this film, which even from its trailer looks and feels like a tired re-tread and Sandler on an off day.
Heck, this might even be the film that makes critics appreciate Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star.
Okay, maybe not.
Jack & Jill is a weak film even by Sandler's mostly middle-of-the-road standards, a film that does actually have several laugh out loud moments surrounded by the vast majority of the film where the only things that don't fall flat are Jill's faux breasts. Even those who have built up quite a bit of good will towards Sandler and his usual shtick are likely to consider this film right alongside Little Nicky, a film I actually consider a guilty pleasure, as one of Sandler's lesser films.
In case you haven't caught on yet, Jack and Jill features Sandler playing twins Jack & Jill. Jack is a successful advertising executive with a beautiful wife (Katie Holmes) and the usual adorable kiddoes. Jill? Well, Jill is that relative that you dread having arrive for the holidays because it feels like they never go home. Jill arrives for the Thanksgiving holiday, a pre-planned short visit that becomes longer mainly because Jill wants it to, Sandler wants Al Pacino to make a Dunkin' Donuts commercial (talk about major product placement, eh?) and the brash Jill catches the eye of Pacino.
So, a short visit is turned into a longer visit and, of course, all the ole' sibling rivalry bubbles to the surface so that everyone involved can learn their life lessons and we can become a happy family once and for all.
In other words, Jack and Jill is an Adam Sandler film minus the humor.
While I've long admired Sandler's willingness to surround himself with his usual cast and crew mates, it's hard not to wonder why nobody had the guts to look the guy in the face and say "Dude, this just isn't funny." Again, there ARE funny bits in the film but they don't come anywhere near the frequency that Adam Sandler fans expect and their infrequency is only likely to fuel those who already consider Sandler to be a one-note actor.
Had Jack and Jill simply been about Jack we would have had a predictable yet fairly funny film, but Sandler goes back to his SNL days to dredge up an old routine that wasn't particularly inspired the first time. In Sandler's case, let's face it, movie reviews are mostly irrelevant. With the exception of his occasional foray into dramatic territory, Sandler has seldom been a critical darling but audiences get what they expect from him and are happy. Sandler's only had occasional miscues, Little Nicky was one, and Jack and Jill may very well end up being one as well.
While Sandler is hit-and-miss here, with a definite miss virtually every time he shows up as Jill, he is surrounded by the occasionally funny bits including what is arguably Al Pacino's best performance in a few scene chomping years. While Pacino's sure not going to see any awards come his way here, other than perhaps a Razzie nomination, the truth is he's clearly enjoying himself being able to poke fun at his own reputation and being able to be inducted into Sandler's quirky little world. The female lead in a Sandler film is never of major consequence, but this kind of light, breezy and over-the-top silliness suits Katie Holmes just fine (and, no, I won't say it has anything to do with a certain spouse).
There are additional cameos in the film, most of which are funnier than any of Sandler's bits and a good majority of the film. At some point, you may find yourself looking more forward to the next cameo than the next scene. It's always fun to watch Sandler's loyalty reveal itself as his own children show up here (they've actually appeared briefly in four Sandler films), a Farley sibling shows up here, a relative of his wife makes an appearance and there are at least a dozen celeb cameos that are generally used fairly well.
Jack and Jill went up the hill, but it's Sandler who falls down with Jack & Jill.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic