“Jack and Jill” Tumbles and Falls

Adam Sandler makes movies with fart jokes and stereotypes in order to appeal to a mass American audience. This film could lead viewers into a scholarly discussion of why it is widely accepted in American culture to mock at an overweight woman, perceived to be ugly and lacking the ability to negotiate common social norms. A scholarly discussion seems the only option, because this film is not funny or entertaining. One could produce a master’s thesis in Media Literacy investigating screenwriters Steve Koren and Adam Sandler’s work, evaluating whether or not portrayals that demean women with fat jokes are more or less damaging than media messages that sexually objectify them. Perhaps Director Dennis Dugan could weigh in. Unfortunately, that level of critical thinking is beyond the brain development of most adolescents, the target market for this film.

Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) is a successful advertising executive living in LA with his lovely wife Erin (Katie Holmes), daughter Sofia and adopted Indian son Gary (Rohan Chand). His family life is quite satisfying except for the one event each year that he dreads, the Thanksgiving visit from his twin sister Jill (Sandler).  This year, Jill decides to extend her stay to enjoy the good life for a while in LA. She wants to appear on a game show and attend a Laker game. Well, it is actually Jack who wants to attend the Laker game. It is his intention to stalk Al Pacino (himself) and convince him to appear in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial. Jack just brings Jill along to apologize for being mean to her throughout her trip.

Sandler is formulaic Sandler, weird facial contortions and bad accents, no surprises here. Holmes doesn’t really have much to do, except deliver the occasional scornful wifely admonishments. Pacino clearly has a sense of humor about himself. Although his performance is meant to be over the top, it doesn’t add much to the film. If Al Pacino agrees to appear in your movie mocking himself, it makes sense that you would include as much screen time for him as possible. Why is Al Pacino in this movie? Is there an MTV Movie Award for “Most demeaning performance played by a screen legend in a movie where he plays a screen legend forced into a demeaning performance?” The time would have been better spent on more one-liners delivered deftly by Chand. Hey kid, you just upstaged Pacino—good work.

This film presents demeaning images of women as humor and expects the audience to accept them without question or discussion. Sandler has a made a very lucrative career out of knowing the bankability of people’s willingness to do just that. The fart jokes are just a cover. This is perhaps one more clue into the source of our nation’s severe economic crisis.

Run time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. Rated: PG


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