Jack and Jill

"What were they thinking?" 

I think that's the perfect slogan to go along with "Jack and Jill," one of the most idiotic and painfully unfunny comedies ever conceived. Seriously, the film is so humorless that it is literally painful to endure. I tossed and turned in my seat for the entire running time of 93 minutes with the sensation of my inners being tangled. At times it almost felt as if my head might explode due to the film's complete disregard for the audience's intelligence.

Who gave this project the green light? Who told Adam Sandler that it would be a funny idea for him to play a man and his identical twin sister? The biggest question of all is how I managed to sit through "Jack and Jill" without either walking out of the theater or hanging myself. Well believe me, I was tempted. But there comes a time in every critic's career when he is challenged with the task of reviewing an ungodly train wreck of catastrophic proportions. Fortunately, I survived "Jack and Jill" and will live to fight another day. But the eternal scars the movie has left on my funny bone may never recover.

The opening of the film shows promise as various twins talk to the camera about their siblings. The dynamic between twins is a topic that's rarely explored and could make for a charming movie. But then we meet the title characters and it's all down hill. Sandler, of course, plays Jack, a jerky advertising agent with a wife and two kids free of any personality. He also plays Jill, Jack's twin sister. Any potential the movie had is immediately flushed down the toilet when Jill first opens her mouth with the accents of a Jewish woman and New Jersey housewife rolled into one.

Jill is the equivalent of an awful "Saturday Night Live" character that keeps getting rehashed in sketches. But where a "Saturday Night Live" sketch lasts only several minutes, "Jack and Jill" makes us tolerate the abomination of Jill for an entire movie. The character is so clingy, obnoxious, reprehensible, revolting and lacking in any redeeming values that only the devil himself would have been cruel enough to unleash her into existence. We can't help but sympathize with Jack as he desperately tries to get rid of Jill after she decides to extend her vacation to his house.

What's even more embarrassing than the premise is the film's attempt to be sentimental. There are times when I think we're supposed to sympathize with Jill who just wants to be with her family and find somebody who loves her. This doesn't work for two reasons. 1. Jill is so shockingly irritating that nobody could possibly care if she ever finds happiness. 2. The audience is always aware that the character is Sandler in horrific drag. In a movie like "Tootsie" I really believed Dustin Hoffman as a frustrated male actor pretending to be a woman. That's one of the many reasons why I actually cared about the character's alter ego of Dorothy Michaels. Comparing "Jack and Jill" to "Tootsie" just demonstrates how difficult it is to center a movie on drag and how easy it is for this concept to flop.

Sandler's movies are always jam-packed with blatant product placement. In "Jack and Jill" he takes it to a new low though. Since Jack is an advertising executive, the movie is able to find plenty of instances to promote Pepto-Bismol and Coke. Jared of Subway fame and the ShamWow guy makes shameless cameos, too. There's even an entire subplot involving Jack trying to get Al Pacino to star in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial.

That's right, Pacino, the Oscar-winner, one of the greatest performers of the last 40 years, reduced to playing himself in a lowbrow comedy in which Sandler plays a woman. Matters only get weirder as Pacino begins to develop a creepy attraction towards Jill. An alumnus of "The Godfather" films has not sunk so low since Robert De Niro played Fearless Leader in "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle." What was Pacino thinking when he signed on for this? Maybe he lost a bet or thought he would have some fun in his old age. To be fair, Pacino does deliver the only amusing scenes in the entire movie, but that's only because his performance is so frenzied that it's hard not to be fascinated.

I suppose I could see little kids or a certain slack-jawed yokel who believes "Adam Sandler's the man" liking "Jack and Jill." I'm assuming that audience is unable to read so this review doesn't apply to them. Some may counter this review with a question like, "What were you expecting from an Adam Sandler picture?" To tell you the truth, I like some of Sandler's movies, such as "The Waterboy" and "Happy Gilmore." I'd even go as far to say that some of his dumber movies like "Little Nicky" have their moments. But "Jack and Jill" isn't even up to his standards and even diehard Sandler fans will probably be disappointed.

There are numerous great movies currently playing at your local Cineplex, including "50/50," "Moneyball," and "The Ides of March." If you go to the movies and decide to see "Jack and Jill" over any of those three recommendations then I hereby banish you from reading any of my reviews.

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

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