HomeVideodrome: Not Afraid to Love Sandler's 'Jack and Jill'

Due to scheduling conflicts, there will be no HomeVideodrome podcast this week.  Head on over to The Film Thugs for other shows and update.

Adam Sandler movies are my comedy comfort food. Ever since the one-two punch of "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" slayed me as a kid, I've always gone to see whatever he puts out. Some of his films are better than others, but they're always positive and never mean-spirited, despite what his most vicious critics will tell you.

Sometimes he will branch out to make the occasional oddball offering that pleases the critics, like Paul Thomas Anderson's sweet and subtle "Punch-Drunk Love" (however the less said about Judd Apatow's nauseating inside-Hollywood-baseball circle-jerk, "Funny People," the better), but his Happy Madison production wheelhouse is where he's most at home, pumping out the kind of low-brow comedy entertainment I enjoy (well okay, I don't mess with the ones starring Kevin James, but "Grandma's Boy" with Allen Covert is legit, and also happened to be one of Andrew Breitbart's favorite movies).

Sandler's latest, "Jack and Jill," caused a stir on the Web when the trailer hit - it seemed like Sandler was parodying his own shtick playing a female twin version of himself. The trailer looked hideous, blaring ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" while Sandler jibber-jabbered in drag. The appearance of Al Pacino as himself took it to the next level. When I had to review it, I wasn't looking forward to enduring it, despite having given Sandler a pass in the past.

Then I saw the movie, and I laughed. A lot. The rest of the critical community didn't, and given the hate swirling around it, I undersold my mostly positive feelings about it which ended up tainting my review a bit (okay, a lot). The hate this movie was getting was getting pretty intense, so I felt like simply saying "look, it's not that bad," and moving on. Never again will I undersell my feelings on a movie, so this is my coming out party: I liked "Jack and Jill," and no, I don't care if you have a problem with that (especially if you haven't seen it).

I get that Sandler annoys the piss out of some people, and that's perfectly understandable. But hearing critics feign outrage and offense towards this movie seems absurd. Sandler's movies have a great love for the sweetness of Frank Capra's work, which is most apparent when Sandler is openly riffing on Capra in movies like Mr. Deeds and Click. This infusion of good ol' fashioned Capra-corn gives Sandler's movies such a positive vibe, that the criticisms declaring his movies to be "mean-spirited" and, in extreme cases, "racist," always seem wrongheaded, the latter being the favorite critique from pleased-to-be-offended white critics. I'd cry about the front-and-center product placement like most people who are pleased with themselves, but I really don't care about that stuff anymore.

The reason so many people my age love "Billy Madison" is because it had a flair for the absurd that came to color a lot of the comedy that followed. One reason I dug "Jack and Jill" was because it managed to tap into that ridiculousness the way a lot of Sandler's movies haven't been interested in doing lately.

The scene where Jill has a picnic and plays soccer with a Mexican family is one that got singled out as "offensive" by the P.C. police, but it actually hits that comedic sweet spot that Sandler nailed in his prime.  There is also a running gag that revolves around the atheism of a character played by Nick Swardson (who hilariously declares atheism to be a close brother to Judaism), which is one of the funniest things I saw in a movie last year.

Many declared "Jack and Jill" the worst movie of 2011, but I can make a list of films that I saw that were far worse right off the top of my noggin. If we're going the comedy route, give me the surreal cultural and familial celebration that is "Jack and Jill" over the condescending, hateful tone of "Paul," a film that despises those God-fearing folk in middle America, yet paints its geek-pandering jokes with such broad strokes that it also ends up treating its target audience like idiots.

I'm going to buy "Jack and Jill," and I'm going to laugh my ass off watching it again, even if I end up having to do it by myself.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Amazon Instant

Other Noteworthy Releases

Immortals: I liked it better when it was called 300 and wasn't boring.
Available on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD

Footloose: A solid remake that adds Craig Brewer's signature flair for the feel of the dirty south to the structure of the original.
Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Amazon Instant

The Skin I Live In: Pedro Almodóvar's latest looks like a wacky combo of Frankenstein and freaky plastic surgery disasters. Count me in.
Available on Blu-ray/DVD combo and Amazon Instant

Senna: Every review I've read of this Formula 1 racing documentary says the same thing: "I loved it, and I don't care about F1 racing!"  So it must be worth checking out.
Available on DVD

Reindeer Games - Director's Cut: This fun, underrated John Frankenheimer flick and John Nolte special is coming to Blu-ray. Question: why wasn't this released around Christmas?
Available on Blu-ray

Grave of the Fireflies: This is a great movie to watch if you're in the mood to cry your eyes out. A film about parentless children trying to survive on their own in Japan during World War II, it's touching and subsequently soul-shredding.
Available on DVD

Plan 9 From Outer Space: The "Citizen Kane" of bad movies...in high definition. The brilliance of Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" was how it poignantly drew comparisons between the king of bad movies and his highbrow equivalent, Orson Welles. "Plan 9" was indeed his swan song, even if it's nowhere as bizarre as his surreal "transvestites are people too" PSA, "Glen or Glenda."
Available on Blu-ray

Charade: Sixties spy thrillers don't get much better than this, with the presence of names like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and James Coburn. Toss in a tasty score by Henry Mancini, and it's love. This one has been out on Blu-ray from Criterion for awhile, but Universal is releasing their own version for their 100th anniversary.
Available on Blu-ray

To Catch a Thief: Speaking of Cary Grant, who doesn't love Grant romping with Grace Kelly in a suspenseful Hitchcock movie?
Available on Blu-ray

Striptease: I saw this movie around that time in life that puberty kicks, and I saw it for one pure and simple reason, as I'm sure you can imagine.
Available on Blu-ray

This post originally appeared over at Parcbench


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