Double Trouble: Jack & Jill, or Why One Adam Sandler is More than Enough

On May 29, 2012 by Torsten Reitz

Jill (Adam Sandler) and Jack (Adam Sandler) celebrating their birthday.

Seriously, what the heck is going on with Adam Sandler? In the eyes of many, Kevin Costner took the throne as worst actor-and-producer with his terrible 1997 trashfest The Postman. You could also make an equally compelling case for John Travolta’s 2000 project Battlefield Earth. But Sandler’s new film Jack & Jill significantly ups the ante. Surely it’s hard to top some of his previous outings in the producer’s chair, such as Joe Dirt, Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, or I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, you may think – and correctly so.

Yet Jack & Jill is so plain bad that Sandler almost challenges Ed Wood for the title as worst filmmaker of all time. At least Wood had a vision that he tried to put into reality on shoestring budgets and with unconventional methods, however ridiculous the results in movies like Glen Or Glenda, Night Of The Ghouls, and Plan 9 From Outer Space may have been. That’s why he has a cult following these days, and it’s also what prompted Johnny Depp and Tim Burton to make a brilliant biopic about the man in 1994.

It’s debatable whether the same thing applies to Sandler. He gets all the money in the world for his comedies – thanks to the mainstream audiences that have stormed into his movies for years, but the results are mind-boggling to any serious film lover, and they seem to become worse with every attempt he makes. Jack & Jill takes the cake in that department, at least temporarily. Rarely have so many Razzie awards for one film (a record-setting ten dishonors at the 2012 ceremony) been more deserved than those Sandler’s pet project received.

The premise of Jack & Jill sounds ridiculous to start with. A successful advertising executive named Jack Sadelstein (Sandler) lives in Los Angeles with his pretty wife Erin (Katie Holmes) and kids Sofia (Elodie Tounge) and Gary (Rohan Chand). He dreads every Thanksgiving for one particular reason, the visit of his loathsome identical twin sister Jill (also Sandler). The story itself is bad, yes, but it’s made even worse by Sandler’s wooden acting and the unconvincing performance by the cast in general.

You may also have to ask what has bitten Al Pacino that he deliberately participates by playing himself in such a piece of crap. The man is arguably one of the greatest actors of his generation, if not in the history of American cinema. Is Al that short on money these days, or has he lost it in his old age? Cameos by other celebrities like Johnny Depp and Regis Philbin are also questionable, yet at least they’re limited to a couple of short scenes each – while Pacino is all over Jack & Jill as a love-crazed caricature of himself.

A comedian such as Jim Carrey has had equally brutal and annoying films in the course of his career. The Cable Guy is a prime example. But Carrey has also proven time and again that he has the acting chops to deliver great performances in serious roles, such as Truman Burbank in The Truman Show, Andy Kaufman in Man In The Moon, Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Walter Sparrow in Number 23, or Steven Russell in I Love You Phillip Morris. Who knows if Sandler has a performance like that in him – yet it would be a lot more satisfying to see him give it a try instead of continuing his recent trend of moronic films.

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