Adam Sandler has his new movie “Jack and Jill” in theaters this weekend, and man, have the nation’s mainstream media film critics got their knives out for him on this one.
With a stunning 0 percent so far on Rotten Tomatoes the day before it hits theaters one might think Sandler had made a film that was completely, utterly and irredeemably lacking in laughs and entertainment value.
But – taking into account that this isn’t pretentious art-house, Oscar-aiming fare – “Jack and Jill” is just another sad example of most critics’ single-minded agenda to give Sandler a smack down for daring to make movies that, while engaging in some crude humor, nearly always wind up upholding old-fashioned values like solid families, respect for elders (especially grandmas with meatballs!) and true love.
This time around, he includes a strong anti-bullying angle, and dares to have not one, not two, but three broad-sided smack downs of an atheist character – so be fully aware that while this isn’t a perfect film, it is damn funny. The packed audience I saw it with laughed their heads off while the few critics in attendance groused afterwards about what an atrocity it was.
In dealing with the film “Blue Valentine” back in January, I noted that most critics were treating it like the second coming of Christ set to celluloid. Depicting an awful relationship that goes from wonderful to sick within six short years, the nation’s alleged arbiters of taste declared it a masterpiece, while I pointed out that most people don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on date night watching a husband practically rape his wife before she kicks him out screaming “I have nothing left for you!” I predicted it wouldn’t even make $10 million, and I was right.
Meanwhile, I pointed out that only 10 percent of critics dared to say Sandler’s “Grown Ups” – featuring intact families with fathers regaining their leadership roles – was any good, despite the fact that, again, a packed house of regular folks had just exploded with laughter around them for 90 minutes. “Grown Ups” made $160 million. It wasn’t Oscar fare, but for Pete’s sake, it did its job by making people feel good.
So, know going into this review – or better yet, the film itself – that the critics who dog it are lying. They are completely disregarding the simple truth that the movie delivers plenty of laughs and good, solid values. They know Sandler is an openly Republican Hollywood figure, and they are out to take him down.
Now, about the movie: “Jack and Jill” is a typical creation from Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. He plays both Jack and Jill, brother and sister twins who have argued since birth. When Jill, who is single, lonely and in her 40s, comes to visit at Thanksgiving, it’s supposed to be for four days. But complications repeatedly ensue, dragging her visit all the way through a New Year’s week cruise with Jack’s family.
Along the way, the siblings fight constantly, but Jack puts up with her presence because he needs to get Al Pacino to act in a Dunkin Donuts ad for his advertising company, and Al surprisingly becomes smitten with Jill. Ultimately, Jill learns to value herself through the attentions of Al, and Jack’s wife helps win him over to seeking reconciliation with his sister.
“Jack and Jill” is unmistakably silly, and Sandler looks like he’s having more fun than he’s had in years in playing the twins, diving into his dual personas with comic gusto in addition to engaging in physical comedy including a “double Dutch” jump rope routine with his alter ego.
The real surprise here, however, is Pacino, who satirizes his over-the-top, angry public image by falling for Jill and seeking to win her heart in order to regain his artistic courage. In scene after scene, he’s completely, daffily absurd, and yet his joy is infectious. Katie Holmes as Jack’s wife also does a nice job, but the biggest and best aspect of the film for Christians and families is that the film places a high and unmistakable value on the beautiful power of families and sibling bonding, while also criticizing dishonesty and meanness, mocking atheism and making belief in God look cool. Most importantly, the film shows true inner beauty can lie within anyone.
Yeah, the movie’s got a few fart jokes. Yes, Sandler looks ridiculous in drag. But “Jack and Jill” has heart and plenty of laughs, and if you’re an honest human being – unlike my robotic brethren of critics – you’ll enjoy it. A lot.