Movie Review: Jack and Jill
By Matthew Huntley
November 25, 2011
It would be a real shame if Al Pacino suddenly died. Not only would Hollywood lose one of its most iconic actors, but as of today, the last movie Pacino would have been in is Jack and Jill, which would be tragic. I know it sounds harsh to say, but if Pacino did drop dead, it must be because he either did something terrible in a former life or during this one, because no good person’s last on-screen appearance should be in a movie like this.
There’s no other way to put it: Jack and Jill sucks. It is a painful, unpleasant experience. Adam Sandler, however likable and down-to-earth, is simply on a different wavelength of comedy - one that’s juvenile, recycled and sorely unfunny. The movie is about two twins, a man and a woman, each played by Sandler (I know), who try to survive each other from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Jack is a commercial director in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood; Jill is his laborious sister from New Jersey who’s moved in with him and his family for the holidays.
What ensues is not hilarity, but vile, tasteless humor, ranging from the gross and predictable to the dull and scatological. What’s interesting is the movie is rated PG, so perhaps it’s fitting it lives on more childish levels than the usual Sandler fare. That doesn’t make it any more watchable, but it may be a sign that Sandler is now trying to appeal to kids instead of teenagers and young adults. But if this is what kids will have to endure, then God help them, not to mention the parents paying for the tickets.
Believe it or not, the movie actually starts out promisingly, though its potential doesn’t last very long. It opens on real-life twin sets providing some insight into what it’s like having someone in your life with the same genetic makeup. They make us see how it can be fun and comforting but also annoying and tiresome, and so we anticipate a comedy of the same nature, with Jack and Jill fighting but eventually realizing they’re lucky to have each other. Such a dumbed down plot goes without saying, but it’s not the movie’s preordained path that makes us shudder at it, but what happens along the way.
Less than five minutes into it, the movie takes a turn for the worse. During the opening montage of Jack and Jill’s home movie footage, we see that Jill is the twin sister from hell. She kicks Jack in his sleep; farts in the bathtub; grows armpit hair faster; and chases away Jack’s dates. All this plays over Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” which isn’t the first time a movie has used this song to accent the relationship between a brother and sister. It’s also not the first movie to pass farts and body hair off as humor. Seriously, will Sandler ever get over flatulence as a comic device?
Some may argue I’m not the intended audience for this movie - that it is, in fact, aimed at kids. Fair enough, but I’m going to stick up for kids and say this movie undermines their desire to experience quality entertainment. They may chuckle at moments like Jill waking up and leaving a body-sized sweat stain on the bed; or Jack’s adopted son taping random things to his body; or Jill having diarrhea and the sound effects being heard through the door, but this isn’t the type of entertainment that sticks or which kids can really appreciate. We shouldn’t think this is what they want to see.
As for Mr. Pacino, he plays himself in the movie, and for reasons that go unexplained, likes Jill romantically and tries to woo her. Jack is all for it since he’s under pressure to sign Pacino for a Dunkin’ Doughnuts commercial. What, are you shaking your head in disbelief? Are you asking yourself if this plot is for real? Well, it most certainly is, and it’s also real the movie has Katie Holmes in the thankless role as Jack’s wife; Nick Swardson and Tim Meadows in their usual sidekick parts; and a cameo by Johnny Depp, who must have only done this as a favor to his pal Adam Sandler.
Odds are you’ve seen the trailer for Jack and Jill over the past few months and had trouble believing something like this could ever get made. Well, it may astound you to learn it’s actually worse than you thought. On a filmmaking level alone, it’s lazy, badly cut and amateurish. It’s been thrown together by Sandler’s longtime director-friend, Dennis Dugan, a director only in name, not skill or artistic integrity.
For the record, I believe Adam Sandler has on-screen talent, but as a producer and developer of projects like this, he needs some serious counsel. My advice is for him to take just a fraction of what it cost to make Jack and Jill and invest it in a movie where he’s the star but has no creative control. If it turns out to be good, he knows what he has to do to redeem himself.