The 2011 comedy “Jack & Jill” seemed tailor-made for the Razzies.
Adam Sandler, whose broad comedies draw critics’ ire on a good day, stars as a family man forced to spend time with his abrasive twin sister (played by … Sandler).
But something funny happened along the way with “Jack & Jill,” available this week on Blu-ray and DVD. Sandler may have phoned it in as Jack, but his braying Jill emerges as an oddly sympathetic – and original – creation. And the appearance of Al Pacino as Al Pacino, scenery chewing actor extraordinaire, gives “Jack & Jill” the kind of meta-awareness that makes its obvious flaws forgivable.
Maybe Sandler was shrewd to release the undeniably retched “Just Go With It” earlier in 2011 to dampen expectations even further.
Sandler is Jack Sadelstein, an advertising executive struggling with a prime client. Dunkin’ Donuts wants Jack to land actor Al Pacino for its latest promotion. If that weren’t enough of a challenge, Jack’s twin sister Jill (Sandler) is about to pay her latest visit. She’s obnoxious, strong willed and always manages to say – and do – the wrong thing.
But when Jack and Jill bump into Pacino at a Lakers game the legendary actor falls instantly for Jill. She’s a simple girl from the Bronx, to hear him tell it, and he can’t resist her. That might be the opening Jack needs to land the actor’s services at long last.
Like most of Sandler’s Happy Madison productions, “Jack & Jill” is poorly shot and features the kind of lazy writing that belongs in a first, not final, screenplay draft. We’re also forced to endure two of the most blatant product placements in recent memory, although Pacino’s late-film musical number takes the edge off of one of the two.
But Sandler’s latest comedy offers a broadly endearing character and Pacino in full meta-glory. Audiences will be tempted to reach into the screen and strangle Jill until she goes away at long last. But the more the film goes on, the more appealing she becomes. She’s the soft side of the typically coarse Sandler character, and the actor’s minimal approach to drag humor works to the film’s advantage.
And then there’s Pacino, acting as if he knows we just watched him sleep walk through “88 Minutes” and can’t wait to spoof his inflated image. It’s absurd that he would stoop to starring in such a comedy and also ingenious at the same time. It’s hard to know if we’re laughing with him, or at him, but in the end it doesn’t matter.
“Jack & Jill” lets Sandler celebrate his Jewish heritage, something he often does in his big-screen comedies. His characters typically have Jewish surnames and often gather to honor Hanukkah or other religious events. In another age, actors would change their surname to cloak their ethnicity. Sandler is loud and proud, and good for him.
“Jack & Jill” fails on some rudimentary film levels, but the presence of both Pacino and a feminized Sandler allow it to go where more cerebral comedies dare not tread.
The film’s Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes, a “Laughter is Contagious” blooper reel and two new features – “Look Who Stopped By” and “Boys Will Be Girls” celebrating the film’s cameo-heavy scenes and approach to drag comedy.