I’ll be gracious enough to cut this aggravatingly awful movie a little slack by saying that nobody goes to McDonald’s expecting filet mignon. Adam Sandler comedies are a known quantity by now, and anyone buying a ticket knows what’s on the menu: dimwitted humor, a lot of yelling, a few cameos from Sandler’s pals and a sappy wrap-up. If that’s your comfort food, dinner is served.
Sandler plays identical twins Jack and Jill through the same movie magic that has enabled stars from Eddie Murphy to Nicolas Cage to Armie Hammer to interact with themselves onscreen. Jack is an apparently filthy rich advertising exec, judging by the size of his palatial Brentwood-esque estate. Company client Dunkin’ Donuts wants Al Pacino to appear in its commercials for a new “Dunkaccino” drink, and it’s up to Jack to find a way to sign the Oscar winner.
As Jack’s wife Erin, Katie Holmes has little to do other than appear alternately understanding and slightly pained. Their two kids are a cute daughter and an adopted Indian son who has a supposed-to-be-amusing habit of taping things — a salt shaker, a hamster, a lobster — to his body.
Jill is a loud, crass and stupid Laverne who still lives in the Bronx but visits Jack and his family in California every Thanksgiving. This year’s trip is the first since the death of the twins’ mother, who lived with her. Jill explains to Jack’s kids that she’s never been in love because boys never liked her, which is understandable for reasons other than her frighteningly unfeminine appearance.
The family’s attempt to set Jill up on a computer date leads to the only genuinely funny line in the movie. Norm Macdonald briefly appears as Jill’s horrified internet date “Funbucket.” When Jill tells him at a restaurant that she can’t believe she’s there, he replies with deadbeat sarcasm, “Assuming it’s really happening, and not some terrifying nightmare.”
The rest of the running time is devoted to Jill’s screeching, Jack’s loud exasperation, what plays like a product-placement infomercial for a cruise ship that shall remain nameless and Pacino thoroughly embarrassing himself. Approached by Jack at a Lakers game, Pacino instantly is smitten with Jill, who is put off by his obsessed overenthusiasm. But Pacino, in a manic-overacting frenzy that’s either a parody of his real-life hammy qualities or evidence of them, won’t be deterred. When he swooningly nuzzles a huge sweat stain Jill has left behind on her bedsheets, the moment truly is one for the “career nadir” file.
Sandler’s former Saturday Night Live castmate David Spade appears in drag as a woman even more hideous than Jill. The most unexpected of several celebrity cameos is by Johnny Depp, sitting courtside with Pacino and wearing a Justin Bieber T-shirt. That sight gag is the only thing even vaguely subtle about a comedy that thinks gassy diarrhea inspired by Mexican food is the height of wit.
Jack and Jill opens Friday November 11, 2011