Adam Sandler plays a beleaguered brother and his annoying fraternal twin sister in Jack and Jill, one of those movies you might see next weekend because it’s PG.
The teens refuse to go to an animated movie, dad nixes anything with vampires, nobody wants to take grandma to something that could have sex in it. Slowly, the pool shrinks and you find yourself in line buying tickets for Jack and Jill.
Jack (Sandler) is a moderately successful TV commercial producer. He could be in trouble, however, if he doesn’t help prospective client Dunkin’ Donuts get their dream commercial — Al Pacino doing a pitch for the Dunkaccino. So he goes into the Thanksgiving weekend stressed and gets even more stressed with the arrival of his fraternal twin Jill (Sandler).
Jill may be a different gender but she and Jack are almost exactly alike — the exceptions being all the things that annoy him most: her nasal voice, her buttinsky tendencies, her neediness. All alone since the death of their mother, Jill brings a dozen suitcases and her pet bird and, even after several inter-sibiling squabbles, decides to stay in town with Jack, his wife Erin (Katie Holmes) and their children. First it’s a few more days, then it’s through Hanukkah, then it’s to New Year’s — which puts her stay perilously close to a planned family cruise.
In an attempt to turn her interest elsewhere, Jack urges Jill to try out online dating, which does not go well. But shockingly, Jill does find an admirer in Al Pacino (himself) who sees her at a Lakers game and attempts to aggressively woo her. Jill is having none of Mr. Pacino, despite Jack’s urges that she give him a shot, but does seem to enjoy spending time with the gardener Felipe (Eugenio Derbez).
If you’ve seen the trailer, you can probably guess with amazing accuracy exactly what in this movie will cause you to cringe. Last week I talked about how all the giddy racism of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas was somehow charming. This movie’s ethnicity-based jokes were textbook on what not-working looks like for that kind of humor. Sandler as Jill actually gives a bit of a performance but Sandler as Jack is pretty much just changing the volume of his voice. And there is something just a shade too shticky, too mean in some of the jokes.
But, as we’ve established, you might find yourself seeing this movie anyway. So here’s why it might not be so bad: The pacing is pretty good. No, this isn’t just a cheap shot about how at least it’s short (though, it is, and thank goodness). The movie has the pacing of a good family sitcom, with jokes coming frequently but not crazily. The tone is pretty perfect — mostly light with a bit of that “yay family” sweetness that, again, is very reminiscent of a sitcom. Many of the movie’s cast members have very little to do (Sandler does take up most of the room) but occasionally someone like David Spade will show up in a bit part and it will work. And then there’s Pacino — who is insane and kind of great. The movie might not always know what to do with Katie Holmes, but it makes good use of Pacino. In one shot, a rant at the audience, mid-play, during a performance of Richard III lapses into some The Godfather, Part II. Boomer-aged men in the audience start to tear up and applaud. Pacino has turned in both some of the greatest movie performances and some of the campiest. This is possibly the first time I’ve seen him willing to, in a movie, poke fun at that second part.
Jack and Jill isn’t a movie you need to go out of your way to see, but if it comes to you, it does have, like any holiday gathering, bits to enjoy. C
Rated PG for crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and brief smoking. Directed by Dennis Dugan with a screenplay by Steven Koren and Adam Sandler and a story by Ben Zook, Jack and Jill is an hour and 31 minutes long and distributed by Sony.