“Hey! There’s a new Adam Sandler movie coming out,” is the first part of a sentence no discerning movie fan ever wants to hear. That’s bad enough but it’s the next part that really rankles. “And it co-stars Al Pacino.” Yes Virginia, it’s been a long time since Pacino’s name was mentioned in the same breath as Brando and DeNiro, but his reputation as one of the great actors of his generation shines a little less brightly today.
Sandler plays both title characters in “Jack and Jill.” They’re womb-mates–twins–who live on different coasts. His California based advertising agency is about to lose their biggest client, Dunkin’ Donuts, if they can’t convince Al Pacino to appear in a commercial for a new product, the Dunkaccino. Jill is a singleton, having devoted her life to looking after their parents back home in the Bronx. She’s the kind of plain talker who says things like, “Are you going bald? No, you getting fat and your hair doesn’t realize it has more face to cover.” Now the parents are gone and Jill comes to visit, turning Jack’s life upside in the process. On the upside Pacino becomes smitten and agrees to do the commercial if he can play twister with Jack’s sister.
Sandler has corralled a number of his friends to make cameo appearances–including one of the biggest stars in the world (wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt), Bruce Jenner and the usual suspects like David Spade–and they get the movie’s biggest laughs. The rest of the movie makes some of Sandler’s other films, like the odious “Little Nicky,” look like the Marx Brothers.
For his part–or rather, parts–Sandler does his usual schick times two. Once in a wig and painted nails and once in his trademark t-shirts and sneakers. We don’t expect much more from him, so he doesn’t exactly disappoint, but it is hard to understand what Pacino was thinking.
Like Neil Patrick Harris in “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” the Oscar winner is playing a heightened version of himself, but his “Pacino related shenanigans” as Jack calls them, aren’t funny. Instead it feels like we’re witnessing a slow slide into self parody and the movie’s references to Stella Adler and Marlon Brando only add insult to… well, insult.
Near the end of the movie Pacino says (SLIGHT SPOILER), “Burn this. this must never be seen by anyone.” Certainly not anyone who cherishes his performance in the first wo “Godfather” movies. He is, of course, free to do what he wants, but we are just as free not to watch it happen.
I don’t blame Adam Sandler for showcasing Pacino in this way, but I do have some advice for him. If he keeps making movies as bad as “Jack and Jill” he might end up like Pacino–appearing in bad Adam Sandler movies.