Jack and Jill (review)

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Jack and Jill red light Adam Sandler

There has always been something meanspirited about drag: men dressing in women’s clothing, as a way to make audiences of mainstream comedy laugh, has always been about holding women up for ridicule and about holding up as ridiculous the idea that any man would want to be a weak, powerless, frivolous woman. (If this were not the case, then women dressed in male drag would be equally as “hilarious.” But it isn’t, because it’s only “natural” that a weak, powerless, frivolous woman would want to be a man.) But the meanness of Jack and Jill — in which Adam Sandler (Just Go with It) portrays his own normal and allegedly admirable male self, hardly disguised at all as Jack Sadelstein, genius Los Angeles ad man, as well as his own preposterous and unpleasant female twin sister, Jill — descends to a cruel new low. There appears to be no reason for the pitiless story this appalling movie has to tell beyond portraying Jill as an all-around despicable creature: socially inept and physically disgusting, incapable of grace and impossible to tolerate. Jack makes no pretense of familial kindness during Jill’s annual Thanksgiving visit from the Bronx — where she has, in another apparent attempt at hilarity, been caring for their elderly mother, who has recently died; it’s “funny” because, we’re meant to infer, a dedication to family is what makes someone weird and stunted. On top of Jill’s inexcusable behavior comes extra bonus “comedy” in the form of Jack’s wife, Erin, inspired by courtesy and hospitality to be tolerant; if Katie Holmes (Mad Money), cursed to this role, imagined that marriage to Tom Cruise would be her path to a golden Hollywood destiny, she must be solely disappointed. And then, as if this were not unspeakable enough, we are treated to the spectacle of Al Pacino (Righteous Kill), playing himself! oh, the humanity, falling madly in love with Jill — Jack encourages this, pimping out his sister over her objections, because he wants Pacino to star in a new ad campaign — which is also intended to be utterly side-splitting, because what man in his right mind could possibly find Jill attractive? (In one scene, Jill, ungainly clumse that she is, destroys Pacino’s Oscar. It’s the only moment in the film that gets within a light-year of the insightful or self-aware.) Adam Sandler has willfully fostered a reputation for brainless, heartless, soulless comedy, but even grading on the Sandler curve, this is a vile excuse for a movie.

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