No one knows what motivates middle-aged Hollywood comedians to don the fat suit and make a drag movie, but don it they do – and it doesn’t usually result in a career high point. Jack And Jill is Adam Sandler’s contribution to this not-so-venerable tradition.
He stars as Jack, a grumpy ad man who lives a life of complacent wealth in Los Angeles, accessorised by his saintly, well-groomed wife (Katie Holmes) and two adorable children. And he also stars as Jill, Jack’s crass, klutzy twin who leads a much less glamorous life back in Brooklyn.
When Jill arrives at Jack’s home for a holiday visit, Jack’s already limited tolerance for his sibling’s eccentricities is severely tested. The humour is as broad as Sandler’s prosthetic backside; similarly, his dual performance is hardly an Alec Guinness tour de force, but neither is he plumbing the depths of Big Momma’s House just yet.
In fact, unlikely as it seems, Sandler has created a half-believable family dynamic – Jack: aloof and angry; Jill: needy and dependent – and that’s just the problem. The 20 per cent of gags which aren’t fart-based are all at Jill’s expense and, while she may ultimately be (whisper it) Adam Sandler in a dress, she’s also human enough to make that mean-spirited.
The sense of laziness is only compounded by a host of celebrity cameos, several of which will be lost on British audiences. No one could miss Al Pacino, though. His role is so extended and humiliating it has more in common with a spiritual exercise in renouncing the ego than mere self-parody.
It revolves around Jack’s attempts to persuade him to appear in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial for the “Dunk-A-Chino” and it takes Jack half the film’s running time to wear Pacino down. Which poses an awkward question; if he’s such an uncompromising paragon of artistic integrity, what on earth is he doing in this?
A step up from Grown Ups – but that’s hardly saying much – Sandler’s brash, unpretentious and unsubtle family comedy might be more enjoyable if it wasn’t so mean.