Jack and Jill (2011)

Directed by Dennis Dugan, Jack and Jill was only ever going to be a bad movie. The idea of putting Adam Sandler in “dual roles” as twins is utterly appalling, but in the right hands the effect could’ve been at least halfway funny. As it is, Jack and Jill is an egregious sin worth everlasting damnation in sub-Kardashian hell. It is designed as “family comedy,” yet is dry-heaving with abusive, cruel “humour.”

Jack and Jill swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning in 10 categories including Worst Picture and Worst Actor. It is a challenge to decrypt what the worst part of this picture really is; everything is staggeringly unpleasant, from unremitting product placements to baffling characters to ridiculous buckets of celebrity walk-ons.

Sandler stars as Jack, a successful advertising executive living in Los Angeles with his wife Erin (Katie Holmes). His life is relatively easygoing until his twin sister Jill (Sandler) pays a visit for Thanksgiving. It’s one of those visits that goes on forever, like this 90-minute movie. Jack and Jill don’t get along because Jill is obnoxious and unkempt – the qualities people look for in Adam Sandler characters.

Things are complicated by the fact that Jack needs to court Al Pacino (played by himself) to star in a commercial, but the eminent actor has a nervous breakdown. A chance meeting at a Laker game puts Jill under Pacino’s radar, which sets up a series of encounters between the two. Jill isn’t a big fan, but Jack tries to push her into the relationship for the sake of his commercial.

Jack and Jill opens with a series of real-life twins going over what makes their respective relationships special. It’s played amiably, but it’s cloying and trite. The sequence continues at the conclusion of the film and frustratingly presents twins as though they’re cute abnormalities audiences have never heard of.

From there, Jack and Jill plunges even deeper into despair. Jack is presented amidst an ocean of obtuse product placements. He’s the straight character, although his temper is terrifying. He relentlessly debases his sister and cheers her misery while putting her in danger by signing her away on Craigslist. The reasoning for his mean-spiritedness is as hard to find as a laugh in this awkward landscape of grim incompetence.

Jill is from the Bronx. She’s lonesome and desperate, but she’s a big woman so she deserves everything that’s coming to her. And being a big woman, she sweats profusely, has a bird for a companion and farts upon exposure to Mexican food. The bulk of the “jokes” come at her expense, much like the fat girl “jokes” on Saturday Night Live come as the result of a hefty man playing a female role. It is 2012, right?

Few people will see Jack and Jill expecting anything resembling a “good movie,” of course, and that’s probably the point of seeing a Sandler film. The bar has been set immortally low by this boorish, foul, invasive virus of a “comic” actor. His well-worn everyman shtick has worked wonders on the talk show circuit and he plays to type as “just one of the guys,” but there’s almost always something sinister about his output.

It’s hard to say if Jack and Jill is any better or worse than most of Sandler’s vehicles because they’re all starting to blend together. Despite considerable turns in rarities like The Wedding Singer, this Dugan movie is the custom. And with so many features like this emerging from the Sandler camp, the only rational explanation is that he frankly holds the audience in contempt.


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