Even with his monumental success, Adam Sandler has and continues to be an acquired taste of one’s comedy palate. Sandler might have as many detractors as he does rabid supporters, but that doesn’t impede his films from raking in some of the all-time highest box office tills in history. Jack and Jill continues the Happy Madison tradition of absurd scenarios, awkward dialogue, chainsaw precision editing, and an eclectic group of familiar faces.
Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) is the owner of a successful advertising agency. He lives what seems to be the perfect life in California and is looking forward to his first family vacation with his wife and children on a 7-day cruise. But to get there he has to first endure the visit from his twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler) for the holidays. Jill has aggravated and annoyed Jack his entire life with her crude behavior and eccentric tendencies, so his goal is to get her back on a plane to New York ASAP. However, when Jill catches the interest of legendary actor Al Pacino, Jack sees an opportunity to satisfy his biggest client Dunkin’ Donuts, who has made the outlandish request to include Pacino in one of their marketing campaigns.
This movie is going to get slammed, crucified and bashed by critics. But why? Hasn’t Sandler paid his dues and dug out his very own niche brand of humor by now? Yes there are varying degrees of quality within the films under the Happy Madison umbrella, but they all share the same inherent wackiness. Sandler deserves credit for never abandoning the style of comedy that made him a star like Eddie Murphy has over the past two decades. Even though he’s proven his talent to embrace more serious roles in films like Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish and Funny People, Sandler always comes back to feed his core audience another crazy-filled milk bone. Although Jack and Jill is certainly not a classic like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer, it does contain some very funny scenes with hilarious sight gags that are able to support some of the weaker writing and is multitudes funnier than Little Nicky or Grown Ups. Much like the SNL cast that Sandler and friends sprouted from, his films seem to become more revered as the years pass by.
At some point in a successful comic actor’s career it seems to be a requirement to dress up and play a woman. In his first attempt, Sandler wisely did not try to actually look, walk, talk, or act like a lady at all. Instead he just put on a wig and did the voice of Eleanore from Eight Crazy Nights. At first, the character of Jill comes of as incredibly abrasive and not in a funny way, which was pretty effective in conveying just how maddening it’s been for her brother to deal with her over their lives. But as the film progresses, Jill becomes easier on the eyes and ears, and Sandler is even able to evoke some actual empathy for the character.
The supporting cast of Jack and Jill is pretty much a “This is Your Life,” for Happy Madison alumni. With only a few omissions, anyone who has ever starred or provided a cameo before in a Sandler film can be found somewhere in this story. But the most shocking is easily the last actor anyone would ever think of to agree to a large role in a Happy Madison production, Al Pacino. Pacino starring in this film is almost as unfathomable as him accepting the fictional Dunkin’ Donuts commercial that Sandler’s character is trying to pitch to him. Unlike his career counterpart Robert De Niro, Pacino has never really taken on a bare-bones role in a straight comedy. Surprise, surprise, he’s excellent at it. Pacino plays a maniacal wild-eye version of himself, as most celebrities do who play themselves in Sandler’s films, a la John McEnroe (Mr. Deeds) and Bob Barker (Happy Gilmore). But unlike them, Pacino does not just appear on screen for a small cameo role, he’s a major part of the story and has the most screen time next to Sandler himself. Pacino fits right into the sensory overload of crazy like he’s been doing it his whole career and hopefully this role will lead him to choosing more comedies in the future.
Many beautiful women have also starred next to Sandler as his love interest, and for the most part, they’ve all brought something valuable to the film. Unfortunately Jack and Jill is the exception as Katie Holmes is nothing more than background scenery. Sandler would’ve been better off continuing the who’s who casting theme in this film and secured a past co-star like Winona Ryder (Mr. Deeds), Drew Barrymore (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates) or Bridgette Wilson (Billy Madison).
Another new addition to the Happy Madison family, and hopefully one that will stay on for a long time, is Eugenio Derbez. Derbez is one of Mexico’s best-known actors and extremely influential amongst the Latin American community. Mostly starring in foreign projects, Jack and Jill is Derbez’s first big-time Hollywood film. Like Sandler, he also plays dual roles in this film as Felipe and Felipe’s Grandmother who is easily one of the funniest and physically odd characters you’ll ever see. Derbez is so natural amongst the familiar cast that at first glance the Sandler Rolodex will start spinning in your head to find out what other films he’s been in. Derbez is a natural comedic actor and has great charisma on screen; hopefully he can manifest this role into more mainstream projects.
Six-year-old Rohand Chand in his very first acting job plays Gary, the Sadelstein’s adopted son who portrays a pseudo-Jiminy Cricket to Jack and has a very odd obsession with scotch tape. Chand pulls of the very difficult task of mixing extremely adorable with odd and creepy.
Jack and Jill will probably not be remembered as one of Adam Sandler’s best pieces of work, but it’s certainly nowhere near the atrocity that many critics will make it out to be. Sandler’s career can actually now be equated to that of comedy icon Steve Martin. Martin also had many detractors early in his career for his seemingly nonsensical and highly irregular version of stand-up comedy and films. Also like Martin’s early work, Sandler’s films are immensely popular but are looked down upon by many as lowbrow humor. Today Steve Martin is considered a legend. With time, his deaf ears to critics, and ability to play the occasional serious role, Sandler should someday carry that moniker as well.
Replay Value: 6.0
Total = 5.7 out of 10