A film review by Craig J. Koban December 7, 2011


JACK AND JILL zero stars

2011, PG-13, 91 mins.


Adam Sandler: Jack and Jill / Katie Holmes: Erin  / Nick Swardson: Todd / Al Pacino: Himself


Directed by Dennis Dugan / Written by Ben Zook, Robert Smigel, and Steve Koren

I would have thought it would have been impossible that Adam Sandler would make another film more putrid as JUST GO WITH IT, released earlier this year.  Well, congratulations, Mr. Sandler, because you have – once again – made the positively worst film of your career and the single worst excuse to enter a cinema in 2011 with JACK AND JILL. 

This is a truly awful, awful, awful, awful…awful-awful-awful film.  Did I say it was awful?  I wrote in my review of JUST GO WITH IT that Sandler does not seem interested in making comedies, per se, because I don’t think he understands how limitlessly unfunny they are.  He seems more compelled to – especially with JACK AND JILL – to just pathetically and lazily perpetuate the “Sandler Brand”, which involves striving for the absolute lowest form of comedy possible to appease his “fans”.   

Just consider the checklist of horrible and audience offending elements that constitute the Sandler Brand, which figure heavily in JACK AND JILL: An annoying and dislikeable main character played smugly by Sandler…check.  Heavy dosages of bathroom humor involving, but not limited to, farting, pooping, peeing, and explosive diarrhea caused by massive chimichanga eating…check.  Cheap gags at the expense of the elderly, the homeless, and ethnic groups….check.  An appearance by the egregiously unfunny Nick Swardson…check.  A slew of embarrassing, paycheck grabbing celebrity cameos including former SNL alumni, John McEnroe, Jared from Subway, and – WTF! – Johnny Depp…check.  Beyond-obvious and gratuitous product placement, like Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, Pepto Bismal, and probably the most in-your-face placement in movie history, The Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise line…check.   

The film’s story involves one of the oldest – and increasingly with time, the stalest – of all comedic film staples: men in drag playing or impersonating women.  To be very fair, I have liked films that have involved it, and some of the funniest films of all-time display it prominently (SOME LIKE IT HOT and TOOTSIE come to mind).  However, Sandler never once demonstrates in JACK AND KILL that he’s a student of such films, nor does he evoke even a modest understanding of what made those films laugh riots.  The real problem, I guess, with JACK AND JILL is that it’s never, ever…ever-ever-ever believable that the woman Sandler plays is actually a woman.  For the most part, she just annoyingly comes off as a Sandler-in-drag cartoon character that rarely feels like a flesh and blood human.  In short, it’s just an opportunity for Sandler to heavily fall back on his fingernails-on-a-chalkboard shtick.

Sandler plays a male, though, in the film, Jack, who is a successful TV commercial director, so successful that he lives in a mansion that, by all physical accounts, even Steven Spielberg couldn't afford (had no idea this gig paid so well).  Like all other Sandler film characters, he is impossibly paired with a gorgeous trophy wife (this time preposterously played by Katie Holmes, who is too good of an actress to play the inept and one dimensional supporting wife role).  Jack also has two kids, with one being an Indian that has a habit of Scotch taping things to his bare body, like doorknobs, golf clubs, and live animals.  In this film’s perverse universe, the parents see this as perfectly acceptable behavior.  Uh-huh. 



Thanksgiving is approaching and Jack’s twin sister, Jill, is about to show up for what Jack hopes to be a brief holiday visit, but his sis’ from the Bronx decides that she wants to stay longer…much longer…much to Jack’s dismay.  Predictably, everyone but Jack enjoys Jill’s company, which shows that every human being in this film - except for Jack - are blind idiots.  Jill is so obnoxious, so repellent, so shrill voiced, so obsessively needy, so pushy, so verbally insulting, and so wholeheartedly unattractive as a physical and emotional human being that it’s astounding that anyone in this film likes her. 

Well, one person does:  During a night out at a Laker game Jill extraordinarily manages to attract Al Pacino.  Yes.  No bull shit.  That Al Pacino.  Serpico himself.  The dude from HEAT.  That Pacino.  When he’s not ripping into audience members for talking on their mobile phones during live productions of RICHARD III, he disguises himself at Laker games as a normal attendee and then becomes instantly smitten with Jill.  For some reason, she acts as a muse, of sorts, to propel him find his inner resolve to tackle a Broadway production of Don Quixote.  Jack, at the same time, desperately wants Pacino to star in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial (the film's umpteenth product placement), but Scarface himself will only do it if he can score with his sister. 

You know that an Oscar winning film actor like Pacino has hit absolute career rock bottom when he has to play opposite of Adam Sandler in drag for the purposes of puerile laughs.  There have been instances where actors have played broad and satirical versions of themselves for the purposes of mocking their own image (see Neil Patrick Harris in the HAROLD & KUMAR films), but it’s so distressingly sad to see an actor of Pacino’s stature ludicrously debase himself as he does here.  Since you never believe in Jill as a character and never believe that anyone would like her for more than a minute and never would believe that a man of Pacino’s pedigree would fall for this abhorrent female, then your buy-in to the underlining material is null and void.  His courting scenes with Jill are among the worst I have ever seen in any film.  If Pacino were not such a long-standing cinematic icon, then I would be forced to describe his participation in JACK AND JILL as a career-killing desperate act of a unbridled lunatic. 

Perhaps even more offensively befuddling than Pacino’s involvement here – which just must have involved a paycheck with a lotta zeroes in it – is how JACK AND JILL goes out of its way to inundate us with squirm-inducingly foul and crude bodily function humor and mean-spirited pratfalls directed at easy ethnic targets and then tries to set us up for a feel-good and would-be sentimental ending where everyone comes to understand, accept, and love Jill.  I was watching JACK AND JILL with my teeth clenched and my hand tediously scratching my head out of irritation and anxiety with every moment Pacino occupied, but the way it manipulatively tries to make me care in the end is the film’s most nauseating trait. 

Speaking of nauseating?  JACK AND JILL cost $80 million to produce.  That’s eight with a zero after it followed by the word "million".  Where in Judas-rockin’-Priest did the money go?  It’s not on screen.  It’s not in the screenplay.  What completely irresponsible party gave the green light for such an exasperatingly expensive screen comedy?   I’m serious.  I want names.  People need to be held accountable for trash like JACK AND JILL.  Oddly enough, Al Pacino’s final words in the film - in reference to the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial he stars in - are among the most telling when considering the relative worth of JACK AND JILL:  “Burn it.  People should never ever be forced to see this.”   

The Godfather has never spoken wiser words in a film.  Like...never. 

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