The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Jack and Jill
They look like they're having fun. They obviously aren't seeing this movie.

Howard the Duck, Gigli, Showgirls, From Justin to Kelly. What do they all have in common? They're all widely considered to be among the worst big studio movies ever made. You know what else they have in common? They're all better than Jack and Jill. Watching this movie reminded me of a scene from the documentary Grizzly Man, in which Werner Herzog listens to an audio recording of a man being mauled to death by a bear. He tells the man's friend, “You must never listen to this. You should not keep it. You should destroy it.” That's exactly how I felt. You, dear Reader, should never see this movie. It should be destroyed.

Adam Sandler stars as Jack Sadelstein, a family man who owns an advertising agency. His family has a yearly tradition he dreads: his twin sister Jill (played by Sandler in deeply unconvincing drag) comes to visit for Thanksgiving. Jill gets on his nerves, with her incessant whining and neediness. Jack's wife Erin (Katie Holmes in a thankless role) encourages him to be patient with her. When Jill decides to stay well beyond Thanksgiving, Jack figures he can pawn her off on someone else by signing her up for an internet dating service. But when he woos Al Pacino (playing himself) for a Dunkin Donuts commercial, the Oscar-winning actor flips for Jill.

Most movies, even very bad ones, have stories. They may fumble ineptly through a series of plot points in the telling of those stories, but you at least sense some movement toward a conclusion. Jack and Jill doesn't even do this. There's no momentum, no drive, no clear trajectory. Instead, it has a series of loosely connected scenes, most of which are designed to end in one of three scenarios: someone farts, someone gets punched in the face, or Al Pacino does something goofy. At the end, there's a predictable moment of realization in which Jack acknowledges that he loves his sister, but that's a lot of baloney. The characters are one-dimensional, and so we never care about any change of heart Jack may have.

Drag is rarely funny on screen. When it is funny, it's because it is done in a convincing way (think Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie), or in a way where the joke is that the supporting characters don't realize how unrealistic it looks (think Some Like It Hot). Simply putting Adam Sandler in a dress and a wig isn't the least bit funny because he looks exactly like Adam Sandler in a dress and a wig. There's no perspective either, no commentary on opposite-sex sibling conflict. Jill is an obnoxious, shrill woman. She has nothing to say and no reason to exist except to be placed in scenes designed to humiliate her in the most juvenile of ways. For example, what do you suppose happens when she eats Mexican food? Why, she gets a hideous case of diarrhea, of course! This is what the picture thinks you will be amused by – Adam Sandler dressed as a woman and shitting himself.

Admittedly, I have not always been a fan of Sandler's pictures. It is plainly obvious that he dislikes going outside his comfort zone. He works repeatedly with a team of questionably talented people (director Denis Dugan, co-stars Nick Swardson and Allen Covert, all of whom are accounted for here), and writes screenplays that utilize the same jokes in slightly different capacities. At worst, I expected Jack & Jill to be a garden variety bad Adam Sandler movie; however, it's so much less than that. The film stoops to new levels of laziness, at times feeling as though Sandler is playing a cruel practical joke on the audience. It's as if he's saying, “I can make the dumbest, most incompetent and predictable movie possible, and you guys will still buy tickets to see it.” A weird contemptuousness pervades the whole thing.

At one point, the excruciating agony of Jack and Jill had gone on for so long that I figured it just had to be about over. I looked at my watch and was horrified to discover that only 30 minutes had passed. Do you know what a depressing feeling that is? Have you ever wanted desperately to escape an unpleasant situation, only to realize that you're stuck there for twice the amount of time you've already spent? There's nothing funny about this movie, and sitting through it is a chore. The performances are terrible. Sandler isn't funny as a woman, and Pacino isn't funny as himself. The material is crude, obvious, and at a junior high level. The editing is choppy, the direction leaden. Jack and Jill is, in my opinion, not in any kind of releasable condition. Yet here it is anyway, stinking up multiplexes with its foulness. Do yourself a favor and see any other movie that's currently playing. You can't do worse than this.

(1/2 star out of four)

Jack and Jill is rated PG for crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and brief smoking. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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