Commercially, Adam Sandler is one of the most successful actors of all time. After a string of early success’ like Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer he was able to create his own fan base who would pay to see almost any film with his name above the line. This level of success has not necessarily meant that the films have remained of the high quality of his early work. In fact, judging by Jack and Jill he has completely lost interest in actually trying to make good films and is now seeing how bad he can make a film and still turn a profit.
Jack Sadelstein (Sandler) is an advertising executive who is under pressure from his biggest client to convince Al Pacino (himself) to star in an advert for a coffee called the ‘Dunkaccino.’ Meanwhile Jack’s twin sister Jill Sadelstein (Sandler again) comes to stay for the holidays. Having always been overshadowed by Jack’s success, Jill acts up to get his attention, causing the two to bicker and argue. At a basketball game Jack and Jill meet Al Pacino with Johnny Depp (himself), and Pacino becomes enamored with Jill, much to her disgust. Jack sees an opportunity to use his sister to bring Pacino onto the advert, but not everything goes according to plan.
Played in the classic Shakespearean misunderstanding mold, Jack and Jill is a laugh-free comedy with no highlights and a surprisingly high-profile supporting cast. Starting in the advertising office the audience are treated to a quick-fire succession of adverts within the actual narrative. It is an accepted practise now to have brands clearly demonstrated in a film as they help to finance them, however actually having some adverts hidden within the dialogue and to make jokes out of them feels like a step too far.
Having an actor play duel roles in a film is nothing new, in fact Eddie Murphy is notorious for it. Sandler’s Jack and Jill though are two of the most annoying, unsympathetic and two-dimensional characters in recent memory. One is a horrible executive willing to sell his sister to get an actor to star in a commercial, the other is a relentlessly irritating, borderline mentally disturbed sociopath with a penchant for sweating profusely. As a double act they are more painful to watch than any of Eddie Murphy’s creations and questions must be asked of what salary Al Pacino and Katie Holmes got to agree to star in Jack and Jill. I assume it was a lot.
With no laughs, excruciating dialogue and a phoned-in performance by the central actor Jack and Jill is one of the worst examples of Hollywood film-making in recent years. It isn’t a question of how it got made, but more why it got made. Jack and Jill appears to be a social experiment to see if a comedian who hasn’t made a funny film in almost a decade can push the boundaries and still turn a profit. The answer is yes he can and the films one joke truly is on us.