[Screen It]


(2011) (Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes) (PG)

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Comedy: A successful family man must deal with his annoying twin sister extending her annual Thanksgiving visit through New Year's.
Jack Sadelstein (ADAM SANDLER) is a successful advertising director in Los Angeles with a large home; a beautiful wife, Erin (KATIE HOLMES); and two kids, the precocious Sofia (ELODIE TOUGNE) and the adopted, intuitive Gary (ROHAN CHAND). There's one time of the year he dreads, though, and that's Thanksgiving when his shrill, annoying twin sister Jill (also ADAM SANDLER) comes to visit.

Jill is the type that has never gotten married, never had kids, and never moved out of the parents' home. But with the death of Jack and Jill's father years earlier and the recent passing of their mom, she is alone. She arrives with an open-ended plane ticket and a knack for worming her way into Erin and the kids' hearts. They want her to stay. Jack wants her gone...that is, until film star Al Pacino (HIMSELF) falls head over heels in love with Jill.

Jack and his assistant Todd (NICK SWARDSON) want desperately to convince Pacino to appear in a Dunkin' Donuts TV commercial that will win his firm a lucrative account with the restaurant chain. But, after a disastrous Internet date with a rude man named Funbucket (NORM MacDONALD), Jill only has eyes for Jack's jovial, blue-collar landscaper, Felipe (EUGENIO DERBEZ). Jack goes to increasingly desperate lengths to bring Jill and the borderline demented Pacino together, even donning his sister's clothes and impersonating her to get the deal done.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
The new "Jack and Jill" is the first Adam Sandler movie in a while that I can honestly say had a chance at some point in the idea, planning, and production stage to actually be good. There is an aspect to this movie that is actually a pretty funny idea had it been in the hands of actual movie industry professionals.

That part involves Al Pacino spoofing himself in an extended cameo. Pacino plays Pacino as if he is a slightly demented lonely heart prone to outbursts of yelling with odd interests in things such as stickball and fine baked goods. He goes to L.A. Lakers games in disguise, but is recognized while Johnny Depp -- sitting next to him in his latest odd and artsy getup -- barely gets a notice. He acts in badly staged Shakespeare plays in which he lives the part on and off the stage.

It's almost like Pacino's scenes were written by an entirely different writer than whoever wrote the inane main plot of the movie, that involving a Type A advertising director and family man dealing with his annoying twin sister over the holidays. But then a quick check of the film's credits reveals three screenwriters credited with this script, and one of them is the great Robert Smigel, longtime writer for "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and the man behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I'd bet the house - not mine, of course - that he wrote most of the Pacino stuff in this movie.

Had they played up that angle of the film and really just discarded the whole Jack and Jill storyline...and I do mean the whole thing...this might have worked in a sort of lowbrow "Being John Malkovich" way. But this is a Sandler vanity production, which means you get plenty of fart jokes. You'll get shrouded racist jokes at the expense of Mexicans and other nationalities softened by jokes against Sandler's own Judaism. There are old ladies getting hit in the face with soccer balls and piņata sticks. David Spade dresses in drag, too. And, wow, there are cameos galore from everyone who has ever befriended Sandler for five minutes. The list includes Spade, Tim Meadows, Norm MacDonald, Dana Carvey, Johnny Depp, Jared the Subway guy, Shaquille O'Neal, John McEnroe, Bruce Jenner, and many more.

The film really fails for two big reasons. One, you never once believe the main gag that Jack and Jill are actual characters. Sandler's Jill is a three-minute SNL sketch stretched out over a 90-minute screenplay. She is the kind of shrill, annoying character that you get tired of almost instantly with a voice that sounds like a cross between Edith Bunker and Gilbert Gottfried. And she changes from scene to scene as the screenplay demands it. One scene, she's just inappropriate, inconsiderate, and just plain unlikable. In the next, she's crying because she's never had a man to love her, because Jack has always gotten all of the breaks, and because both their parents are now dead. It's the usual Sandler schmaltz mixed with potty humor that is particularly lazy in its execution this time.

The second big failure is Jack and his family. They're just not funny or quirky or interesting in the least. There was a time when you could go to Adam Sandler movies and connect with him and his characters because he played regular guys. Now, the last several films have him playing these jerky, extremely wealthy characters who just appear miserable in their lives.

This was pretty much a chore to sit through enlivened only by a game Pacino who is willing to do pretty much anything at this point in his career for a check. In the end, though, even he has an epiphany of sorts when he finally sees a TV commercial that Jack produced in which he stars (and raps). His take on it all? "Burn it, Jack!" he implores. "This must never be seen...by anyone!" My take on it all? A 3 out of 10 at best. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed November 9, 2011 / Posted November 11, 2011

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