The main question that kept running through my mind as I sat in the theatre watching Jack and Jill was “Why does Adam Sandler hate me?” The most steadfast purveyor of humour targeted squarely at slack-jawed yokels continues his streak with this latest tour-de-force that sees Sandler pulling double “doody” (hey, just pandering to the scatological joke aficionados who, based on this movie, are Sandler’s key demographic) in a dual title role that once more exploits Sandler’s image as an overgrown adolescent who’s partial to yelling and punching people in the face.
The story follows a pair of twins, Jack and Jill, who have a less than desirable relationship with one another. Jack was always the bright and popular twin while Jill hid her social awkwardness in his shadow, clinging to him with the hope that he would protect her from the big bad world and that some of his charm would rub off on her.
The film begins with real-life twins discussing their complicated relationships with one another, and if this were any movie other than a Happy Madison production, perhaps we would have actually gotten a few interesting insights about “womb mates” amongst the so-called comedy. Unfortunately, Sandler and his writing team of Ben Zook (Reno 911) and Steve Koren (A Night at the Roxbury and Sandler’s Click) have provided us with only a handful of big laughs, and even fewer realistic scenarios beyond the initial premise.
As adults, Jack is married (to the unfortunate Katie Holmes who looks bewildered by how she ended up in this movie) with children and owns his own California-based advertising firm where he produces commercials featuring celebrities hawking his wares (cue Sandler’s quirk of throwing bizarre celebrity cameos into his movie for no real reason. In this case, it’s Regis Philbin, Shaquille O’ Neal and that guy from the Subway commercials).
On the flipside, Jill still lives in the Bronx in the family home with no company other than a pet Cockatoo. She’s still smarting from their mother’s death a few months before so she decides to descend on Jack and his family for the holidays, thus turning Jack’s orderly home life into the requisite chaos.
At work, Jack is scrambling to try and please his biggest client, Dunkin Donuts. They have a new product called The Dunkaccino and insist that Jack lands Al Pacino (playing himself) as the spokesperson or else they walk. After a chance meeting with Al at a Lakers game (a scene that provides one of the film’s few laughs in the form of a hilarious Johnny Depp cameo), Pacino takes a liking to a very reluctant Jill. At this time, Jack decides his sister’s presence in his life finally has some value after all.
Sandler plays Jack as a level-headed everyman who’s valiantly enduring Jill’s needy attention-whoring, with little-to-no mention that his character is needlessly cruel to his obviously mentally-challenged sister. I mean, how else do you explain a 30-something woman who, despite being born and raised in a large city like New York has never tasted Mexican food or used a computer (she refers to one as a calculator at one point)? She’s also never been on a date. Koren has written Jill as such an unbelievably pathetic person, and Sandler plays her so over-the-top compared to his Jack that it just starts to get mean: and not in a good, dark comedy way.
As it is, the film radiates a smirking, self-satisfied vibe that makes it clear no one involved (certainly not hack director-for-hire Dennis Dugan) cares about the audience’s good time at all.
It would be way too easy to go with the obvious pun and say that Jack and Jill is nothing more than one big drag, but it’s more than that. Jack and Jill is an ill-advised, too long Saturday Night Live skit gone wrong. It’s a cartoon. It’s a way for all involved to pad their pockets and a way for Sandler to keep his friends employed. If that sounds like a good time at the movies to you then I guess, the joke’s on you.