‘Jack and Jill’ stuck at bottom of hill

Justin Marietti

Adam Sandler founded his career as one of the modern masters of slapstick comedy. His acting career started as a result of that fact. With age, however, he began to deviate from that mantra a bit, taking on more mature comedic roles.

“Jack and Jill,” which he co-wrote, tries to deliver flashes of the old Sandler style while still somehow remaining a family-friendly movie. For brief moments, it succeeds. But overall, the attempts at humor in this film will probably feel a bit dry to most die-hard Sandler fans.

The movie is about a set of fraternal twins, both played by Sandler, who are reunited for the holidays. Jack isn’t very enthusiastic about his sister Jill’s visit, because her odd personality and quirkiness tends to drive him crazy.

After the holidays come and go and Jill still hasn’t gone back home, Jack begins to get progressively more stressed out and irritable. As this happens, he looks more and more like classic Sandler roles of the past like “Anger Management” and “Happy Gilmore,” to name a couple.

Jack is employed as an advertising executive, and this allows the product placement in this movie to be over the top. Pepto-Bismol and the Royal Caribbean cruise line make cameos. And Dunkin’ Donuts is not only featured but actually plays a role in the story’s plot.

Things get complicated as Jack is assigned the task of trying to track down and convince Al Pacino (who plays himself) to sign on with his company and make a commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts new product, the “Dunkaccino.” Jack gets his hands on Lakers tickets and intentionally runs into Pacino, who seems much more interested in Jill than he is about the commercial pitch.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this movie was the massive amount of celebrity guest appearances. Everyone from Bruce Jenner to Regis Philbin, Drew Carey, Shaquille O’Neal, John McEnroe, Johnny Depp and even Jared from the Subway ads made short cameos in “Jack and Jill.” Norm McDonald, one of the cast members during Sandler’s days at Saturday Night Live, also made an appearance.

As I listened to the voice of Jill, which was also Sandler’s voice, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the comedy CD’s he recorded early in his career, especially “They’re All Gonna Laugh at You!” The high-pitched tone of her voice was reminiscent of characters from that CD’s skits.

Al Pacino actually had a much more prominent role than I thought he was going to have. Although much of the scenes featuring Pacino aren’t really all that funny, there are a few moments (especially one at the end) that make this film a lot more tolerable than it would’ve been without him.

The plot seems to poke a little fun at Pacino, depicting him as a broadway actor who has a few screws loose and is desperately trying to get back to his roots. However, if Pacino himself signed on for the role, I guess I shouldn’t think anything of it.

Although “Jack and Jill” offers a few laughs, it pales in comparison to some of Sandler’s past works. I feel that if he wants to write something in the vein of his original style, he should just do that. This movie is hardly something I would consider family-friendly, despite its attempts to keep the language and racial stereotyping to an acceptable minimum, so as to accommodate younger audiences.

I would say that this is an acceptable effort from Sandler and his crew, but just barely. Even his lesser acting roles delivered more laughs than this. As far as movies currently in theaters though, I’d probably put this near the top.