Adam Sandler has amassed a fortune by making mindless comedies, and I have no problem with that. If people want to hand over their hard-earned money to watch him play a variation of the same idiotic character in one film after another, it’s their problem. Certainly if someone were willing to pay me millions for making a fool of myself, I’d jump at the chance. How hard can it be anyway?
But here’s the thing that puzzles me about Sandler. He has the talent to do so much more that simply reinvent himself in just about every part he plays. A prime example of this is his heart-wrenching portrayal of Charlie Fineman in “Reign Over Me.” If you have seen this movie, you know that Sandler plays a man grieving over the loss of his family during the terrorist attack on the United States on Sept. 11. Sandler’s performance is nothing short of brilliant, and I wish that he would make more films like that one instead of churning out movies like “Jack & Jill,” his latest foray into cinematic inanity.
Jack Sadelstein (Sandler) is a successful advertising executive who lives with his wife, Erin (Katie Holmes), and their two children, Sofia (Elodie Tougne) and Gary (Rohan Chand) in Los Angeles. Jack grew up in the Bronx, and when he moved away, he left his twin sister, Jill (also played by Sandler), to take care of their parents.
Although Jack became a family man, Jill never married, and she continues to live in New York. The only time the two of them see each other is when Jill makes her annual trip to Los Angeles for a Thanksgiving visit with Jack and his family. Although they were close as children, the twins have grown apart during their adult years, and Jack finds himself dreading Jill’s yearly visits more and more as he grows older.
As “Jack & Jill” begins, Jack leaves to meet Jill at the airport, and he’s not all that happy about it. His mood darkens even more when he sees that Jill has brought enough luggage to stay for the rest of her life. Of course it’s not hard to see why Jack is not that fond of his sister because she is loud, pushy, and obnoxious.
When they arrive back at the house, Jack and Jill are immediately at each other, and finally Jill makes Jack feel guilty about treating her so badly that he invites her to extend her stay through Hanukkah and promises to take her to some of the things Los Angeles is famous for including a Lakers basketball game. And this proves very interesting.
One of Jack’s biggest clients is Dunkin Donuts, and the big wigs there want Jack to obtain the services of Al Pacino for a commercial to be called Dunkaccino. Among Jack’s many problems in attempting to get Pacino to do the commercial is the fact that Pacino is in the throes of a nervous breakdown, and his mental state is very fragile.
When Jack and Jill go to the Lakers game, Jack spots Pacino (played by Pacino) sitting courtside with Johnny Depp (played by Johnny Depp), and he approaches him to talk about making the ad. But Pacino has eyes only for Jill, and from this point on the film evolves the story of how Pacino tries to woo Jill while Jack attempts to use her to bring Pacino on board for the commercial.
Portraying the dual roles of Jack and Jill gives Sandler plenty of opportunity to do his shtick as both a male and a female, and those who like Sandler’s brand of humor probably will get a kick out of seeing him play both roles. In all fairness, he does succeed fairly well in making Jill a sympathetic figure when she attempts to enter the realm of Internet dating and ends up going out with a class ass.
Overall, this film is typical of all Sandler’s movies, and early on I was thinking it might just earn the score of a disgraceful zero, but then Pacino appeared, and his incredibly uncharacteristic performance made the film bearable for me. In the film’s production notes, Pacino offered an interesting comment about playing himself in the movie.
“I love the idea of playing an older movie star, clinging, trying to get back to what it was that made him do this thing in the first place. My character is a guy who just wants to go back home, wants to be simple again, but will never be able to be that way again. And no matter how crazy he is, his instincts are still working as an actor. If he engages her in the same way Don Quixote engages Dulcinea, he can find out if he can really play the part in ‘Man of La Mancha.’ It’s subtle and unusual, but this is the actor’s journey out of madness.”
A major part of Pacino’s dementia involves his confusing the various roles he has played throughout his career, and this is interesting, as is his pausing in during a Shakespearian play to take a call on his cell phone.
But the thing that rescues “Jack & Jill” from being a zero and elevating it to a final score of five is the Dunkaccino commercial at the end. (The other reason for the higher score is that Holmes still is cute.) This is Pacino as you have never seen him before, and I thought the bit was beyond hysterically funny. However, one humorous routine does not a great comedy make.
In addition to Pacino’s appearance in it, the film contains a number of cameos including Drew Carey, Shaquille O’Neal, Dan Patrick, Christie Brinkley, Michael Irvin, and John McEnroe. Oh yes, even the incredibly annoying, consistently grating, and undeniably arrogant Regis Philbin managed to inject his unique brand of obnoxiousness into the film.
“Jack & Jill” is typical Sandler fare, but the Dunkaccino commercial almost makes the whole thing worth the price of admission.