Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Of The Worst Movies Of Late, Jack And Jill Enters The Holiday Cinematic Slump Poorly.

The Good: Moments of acting, One or two jokes.
The Bad: Mostly not funny, Light on character, Lack of decent plot, Much of the acting is bad.
The Basics: Jack And Jill flops into the expected position around the holidays with a predictable, terribly un-funny film.

Movies have some very cyclical seasons, something I became very much aware of a few years back when I was at a screening of Four Christmases (reviewed here!). Usually, right before Oscar Pandering Season - the late-November, December period wherein all of the major studios put out the movies they hope will get Best Picture and acting awards - there is a family friendly time around the holidays when the studios put out some of the suckiest, schlockiest movies that couldn't even hold up during the September Slump. In the last few years, Oscar Pandering Season has been broken up to surround the Holiday Slump. This year, The Help (reviewed here!) opened up Oscar Pandering Season before even the back-to-school slump. My point here, at the beginning of my review of Jack And Jill is that it ought not to have been any surprise at all that the movie, released right at the open of the Holiday Slump, was just plain terrible.

And it is. Jack And Jill is easily as bad as one might expect from the hundreds of previews aired in the last two weeks during every single network comedy. Part of the reason for that is that it returns Adam Sandler to the mindless fare that made him after he left Saturday Night Live. Desperately paired at various points with his former peers David Spade, Tim Meadows, Norm MacDonald, and Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler reminds the viewers that he became funny more on gimmicks than a genuine sense of comic genius.

Jack Sadelstein is an advertising executive who has been trying hard to get Al Pacino to appear in one of the commercials he is directing. His wife, Erin, puts up with his antics and raises their two children. For Thanksgiving, Jack's twin sister, Jill, comes to visit. She is more manic than he is and Jack frequently mocks her. After Thanksgiving, Jill does not leave and the while Jack is irritated that she has remained, Erin is a bit more empathetic to her.

Jill lags around the house and town, but in the process actually runs into Al Pacino. As the Jack and Jill interact, they learn to relate better and . . . who cares?

It's hard to stretch out writing even two paragraphs about the plot of Jack And Jill for the simple reason that the film is not as all about things that happen or even the characters that make them happen. Jack And Jill is a gimmick film. The whole point of it is to have Adam Sandler play a character - Jill - in drag. What happens in Jack And Jill is secondary to the shock value of seeing Sandler in a dress, a miniskirt and other female garb. The problem the movie runs into - other than rampant misogyny - is that the shock value wears off - in fact, if you've seen one preview, the shock value already is gone.

The key to a successful gimmick comedy - Bubba Ho-Tep (reviewed here!) is the highest-rated example of a gimmick comedy - is to use the gimmick to then say something larger than the gimmick. So, for example, in Bubba Ho-Tep when the geriatric Elvis and JFK go to fight a mummy, they learn their celebrity was not a fluke, they actually have talent and vitality. The two men bond to realize that, despite the fact that they have been dead to the world, they have a promise and power that is substantial. In other words, they find their worth and the battle with the mummy is metaphorical and makes a larger statement on the comedic gem of the premise of an old Elvis and a black John F. Kennedy living in a nursing home.

Jack And Jill has no such larger theme. Instead, it is a formulaic plot movie where the comedy comes not from anything fundamental from the characters. It is the set-up and that wears thin. Fast.

As for the acting, Adam Sandler will not be the next Eddie Murphy. Jill is in no way a fully realized character; she is Adam Sandler in drag and Sandler illustrates that his abilities toward the qualitative were something of a fluke. Sandler wowed audiences with real characters who were complex and different from others he had done in movies, like Punch-Drunk Love (Reviewed here!). Jack And Jill is a relapse from Adam Sandler along the road to quality performances and complex characters.

Sandler does not drag down others with him; they throw themselves in front of his train willingly. Most notable is Katie Holmes, who takes one of the least worthwhile supporting performances in the history of comedy as Erin. Holmes has pretty much put the final nail in her career's coffin. Who else would turn down The Dark Knight but take Jack And Jill?

Ultimately, Jack And Jill is not funny, it is not clever and it is not at all original. In the end, it is a waste not only of the money to see it in theaters, but the time one could be doing . . . pretty much anything else.

For other works with Katie Holmes, please check out my reviews of:
Thank You For Smoking
Batman Begins
Dawson's Creek - Season One
Wonder Boys


For other movie reviews, be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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