Your Brain Wants To Chill With JACK AND JILL

In one sequence, Jill, Adam Sandler’s nails-on-a-chalkboard Tootsie, is left sitting alone at dinner, as Sandler alumnus, Norm MacDonald, her blind date, excuses himself to the restroom. We feel bad for Jill as she waits and waits for her date to return.

An hour or so passes. She stalls the wait staff, but it’s pretty obvious she’s been ditched. She makes a sad face. It’s broadly comedic (and even a little bit heart-breaking).

Before leaving the restaurant, Jill checks the men’s bathroom, calling her date’s name. She checks the stalls. The bathroom is empty. Jill sags her frumpy shoulders and hangs her gigantic head and mopes out of the frame. We feel for the poor lug. Sandler actually has us caring about this insane cartoon of a character. This Jill is abrasive, and annoying, and silly, but she’s nice and doesn’t deserve the abuse.

Never fear. Here’s where Sandler’s genius becomes apparent. Even though he has us feeling for Jill, he knows we care little about caring about characters. That’s for Real Movies. This is an Adam Sandler movie, Loyal Reader. You better believe it that the moment sad-sad Jill leaves, the camera pans up and there’s good old Norm hanging upside down on a flourescent lighting fixture, clinging for dear life, evading Jill like Bugs Bunny out smarting Elmer Fudd.

(For your consideration…)

Like all Adam Sandler films, JACK AND JILL is a sloppy affair. It jumps from scene to scene, sometimes incomprehensible, as settings and situations rub shoulders without resolve or narrative cohesion. Reaction shots punctuate, rather, intrude upon the action. Lapses in time become the norm. If you bother thinking back about particular scenes, you’ll quickly realize how little context matters. Still, though the movie rambles, and clips, and sputters like something rabid and wild and begging to be put down, one thing remains consistent throughout – no matter what – The Joke reigns supreme.

Everything in the movie is there to serve The Joke.

Characters and plot fall at its funny, knobby feet.

Those lapses in time (the movie takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve without much mention of Christmas or Chanukah) shift and unspool in service of The Joke.

From dining rooms to cruise ships, the settings are all set-ups for punchlines.

And that’s why, despite their shaggy ridiculousness, Sandler films work. They’re funny. Disembowel them all you want, at the end of the day, you’re going to laugh. Even cooler, with his latest crop of films, Sandler has figured how to make family films that truly entertain all members of the family.

There was a blip in time where Sandler seemed uncertain of which way to go. Pg-13 fare like YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN ramped up the sleazy, sex jokes – it still worked (just like DEUCE BIGALOW, and GRANDMA’S BOY, and the recent bomb, BUCKY LARSON), the film was still pretty hilarious, but it’s not something you could watch with your teenage daughter. His PG comedies have managed to clean it up, but they keep that low-brow stupidity. The jokes still work. The comedy doesn’t have to be dirty to click, just dumb. Lucky for the man, this formula seems to work well on audiences of all ages.

So roll your eyes and shake your head all you want. Be critical. I’ll take my laughs where I can get them. More please, Mr. Sandler


3 Responses to “Your Brain Wants To Chill With JACK AND JILL”

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