There is so much bizarre imagery in Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler playing his own twin sister being the least of it. Picture a young boy running shirtless with a variety of live animals taped to his back; David Spade’s head on the body of a buxom Bronx beauty; a bewigged Shaquille O’Neal gnawing on a ham hock; Al Pacino rapping; a snuggle-toothed, bug-eyed old Mexican woman (yet another man in drag) being repeatedly hit in the face and then forcefed chillies; Johnny Depp in a Justin Bieber shirt (actually, I’ll give that one a pass – I’m a Belieber too). Are we sure Dennis Dugan isn’t just the nom-de-plume used by David Cronenberg when he’s feeling particularly playful?
This is the point where we normally – and begrudgingly – summarise the plot, but writers Ben Zook, Steve Koren and Robert Smigel have done me a massive kindness by not bothering to come up with one. Here are the pertinent details that you may or may not have inferred from the poster: ad-exec Jack (Sandler) is dreading the arrival of his annoying, potentially-personality-disorder-having sister Jill (Sandler) for the holidays. Her stay extends from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, and eventually all the way to New Year’s Eve. She makes his life a living hell. That is, until she catches the eye of the amorous Al Pacino (playing himself), who Jack serendipitously wants to recruit for a new campaign for Dunkin Donuts. Katie Holmes appears as Jack’s long-suffering wife, and the unbearable Eugenio Derbez plays their Mexican gardener. Please don’t make me write anymore.
Jack and Jill isn’t exactly abysmal; it has sprinklings of Sandler’s adolescent charm throughout, and there are numerous scenes that inspired a chuckle (even – and I’m not proud to admit this – the bit where Jill releases a series of ungodly farts). But for every sweet-natured or surprisingly comic moment (the aforementioned fart scene does not fall under either category), there are two that are blisteringly inane. By the time the credits rolled, Jack and Jill had me recalling the scene in Just Go With It where Dave Mathews picks up a coconut with his ass cheeks as the height of wit. Considering the decline in the quality of his films over the last few years, you would think Sandler was in a competitive game of one-downmanship with himself.
Perhaps what is most chilling about Jack and Jill is how impressive the special effects are. Though Jill never looks like anything other than a dude in a dress, she seamlessly inhabits the same frame as Jack. That kind of visual wizardry sort-of evokes the final scene of Fight Club: Jack and Jill are merely two sides to the one Sandler! It’s as if he’s successfully exorcised his ugliest traits into its own living breathing entity. But which one is the evil Sandler? The obnoxious, mugging Jill or the lazy, lethargic Jack? Who cares? All I know is that I suddenly don’t consider Funny People to be all that problematic anymore. Come back ambitious, dramatic Adam Sandler! All is forgiven!
Jack and Jill is now showing in Australian cinemas.