Jack and Jill (2011)

This is the Guy Who’s Gonna do a Dunkin’ Donuts Commercial.

Today’s movie was not a request.  Instead, it sprang forth as a sign of my own self-loathing.  I’m pretty sure that everybody that saw the trailer for this movie knew better than to see it, but I saw it and said “I wanna make fun of that.”  That was, of course, once I had figured out that the trailer wasn’t a joke, like some Funny or Die mock trailer.  When I found out it was a real movie, it was on.  But there was no way in Hell that I was going to the theaters to see it.  Instead, I waited patiently for the moment it popped up in a RedBox near me and called to me.  And now the time has come to talk about Jack and Jill, written by Steve Koren, Robert Smigel, and Adam Sandler, directed by Dennis Dugan, and starring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino, Rohan Chand, Elodie Tougne, Eugenio Derbez, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, Allen Covert, Valerie Maheffey, Gad Elmaleh, and Gary Valentine, with cameos by Dana Carvey, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Norm MacDonald, Regis Philbin, Shaquille O’Neal, Lamar Odom, Bruce Jenner, Johnny Depp, Drew Carey, Jared Fogle (The Subway Jared), and John McEnroe.

Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) works in advertising and lives with his wife, Erin (Katie Holmes), and his two children, Gary (Rohan Chand) and Sofia (Elodie Tougne).  His twin sister, Jill (don’t make me say it) comes to visit his family for Thanksgiving.  She’s annoying as shit, causing Jack to snap at her occasionally, which causes her to extend her vacation so that she doesn’t leave on a bad note.  Jack is also stressed because his work wants him to get Al Pacino (himself) to do a commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts and their new drink, the Dunkachino.  Luckily for Jack, Al Pacino develops a crush on Jill when they first meet.  But Jill, even though she’s incredibly lonely, is having none of Scarface and his tomfoolery.  That’s when shit gets really crazy.

The truth about this movie is a rather surprising one: It’s not as painfully bad as I expected from the commercials and trailers.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s also not good and not very funny, but it wasn’t PAINFULLY so.  It was just another mediocre Adam Sandler comedy (as he’s prone to making these days) with a shitty premise and a good meaning to it.  The premise of the movie seems like Adam Sandler just found out about the phenomenon of twins, ran into the office of his writing partners, and exclaimed “Did you guys know that two people of different genders can look exactly alike?  I have such the movie for you guys!”  And then it was off and running.  Putting Adam in a dress, having him do a voice we’ve heard him do before for her, and having him play opposite himself like Mike Myers.  And then they needed a conflict.  How about one as original as “siblings don’t get along”?  BRILLIANT!  The whole Al Pacino subplot is original, but many people thought it was insane for Al Pacino to fall in love with a female version of Adam Sandler.  That part I can actually get behind.  Pacino seems that crazy.  Then you tie the whole thing up with some “love your siblings for who they are” mess and you have a movie.  All of this would have been forgivable if they made the movie funny, but they didn’t.  The only part that made me laugh was in one of their cameos.  It’s at the basketball game where Jack is trying to talk to Pacino and Jill doesn’t really know who he, nor the person he’s watching the game with, are.  The only funny part of the movie is when Jill asks the friend (are you listening, Loni?) Johnny Depp if he was in Duran Duran, and Johnny says “Yeah, that was me.”  I’ve just saved you two hours!  Except for Loni, that is, who will now watch this movie just because Johnny Depp is in it for two minutes and has words coming out of his mouth.  The whole movie winds up being thoroughly “blah”, with a few moments that are cute, but just as many moments that are painfully not funny.  Jack’s son, Gary, has some strange habit of taping things to himself that is stupid and completely insane, but they managed to get a little bit of almost funny out if it, like when he tapes a salt shaker to his head and Jill uses the shaker while it’s still on his head.  Near the end of the movie, there’s a part where Jack and Jill show off their fantastic jump roping abilities together that is just painfully not funny.  There’s also an entire scene at the picnic of Jack’s gardener that was so blatantly stereotypical that even I came close to finding it really offensive, and I’m not even Mexican (thank God).

The performances did what they could with what was written, but never really impressed either.  Adam Sandler is probably the most to blame for this movie, having written it and for playing two roles in it.  As Jack, he was mainly just normal, but never really realistic.  As Jill, he was annoying and about as far from realistic as you could get.  The problem for me of making the sister so utterly annoying is that you don’t really sympathize with her when Jack is rude to her.  I would be too!  Al Pacino played himself like I want to imagine him: completely insane.  He had a couple of entertaining parts, like when Jill accidentally broke his Oscar and said, “Oh, I’m sure you have others,” and he said, “You’d think so, but no.”  Maybe it’s because you’re doing movies like Jack and Jill now, and not Godfathers and Scarfaces.  I also found him entertaining at the very end of the movie when he was in a bar dressed as Don Quixote.  I like Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, Dana Carvey, Norm MacDonald, and David Spade, but none of them really brought any comedy to this beyond David Spade being in drag just like Sandler.  As with most Sandler movies, there are a huge number of cameos in this movie, but none (beyond Johnny Depp) ever did anything for me, it was just interesting that they were there in the first place.

Jack and Jill isn’t as bad as you expect it to be.  It’s just regular bad.  It’s a pretty bad premise to base a movie on, it’s not that great of a story, and the only part I found really funny was delivered by a cameo actor.  I can’t surprise any of you by saying that I recommend you watch this movie, even for a dollar.  You can’t really mock a comedy MST3k style because comedies are already trying to be funny and any joke you’d make would just be “That was dumb.”  That being the case, there’s no reason to see this.  Jack and Jill gets “Busted, disgusted, never to be trusted!” out of “We play games, we eat, we steal white people’s money.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

I’m Holding the Bomb

When I noticed this very day that today’s movie was available at a RedBox near me, I decided I needed to see it. Not because I expected it to be good, but because it was a movie and I watch those. I had heard vaguely good things about this comedy, but mostly from people whose opinions I do not value when it comes to the quality of movies. So going into this movie, I had no strong opinions either way. Let’s see if I was right! This movie is 30 Minutes or Less, written by Michael Diliberti, directed by Ruben Fleischer, and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Fred Ward, Bianca Kajlich, Michael Pena, and Dilshad Vadsaria.

Because I went into this movie with this knowledge, I’m going to share it with you because it may have skewed my opinion of the movie itself. A very similar incident to what happened in this movie actually happened in real life, with less comedy and more actual person dying. A pizza delivery guy named Brian Wells actually had an explosive device strapped to him and he was made to rob a bank in 2003. The police captured him, but the bomb went off and killed him before the bomb squad could arrive. Also, everyone involved in this movie (from what I’ve read) acted like they had no knowledge of this incident before the movie and it was just coincidence that a pizza delivery guy has an explosive device strapped to him and he was made to rob a bank in their movie. Personally, I find myself a bit skeptical that they had no knowledge of it. I grant that I didn’t know about that incident myself, but I also didn’t write a movie that was exactly like it. Let’s see how a guy’s death becomes a comedy in this movie though.

Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pizza delivery guy. He and friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari) get into a big fight one day because Nick slept with Chet’s twin sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria). Elsewhere in the same town, two guys are shooting at watermelons with a crossbow. One of them, Travis (Nick Swardson), straps mini-bombs to the watermelons for added amusement. I’m sure his internet-taught abilities to make bombs will never come up again. The other guy, Dwayne (Danny McBride), is fed up with living with his domineering, rich father who is called Major (Fred Ward). To forget their sorrows, Travis and Dwayne go to a strip club to see them some titties. Dwayne confides his story to one of the strippers, Juicy (Bianca Kajlich), who convinces Dwayne to give her $100,000 dollars to hire an assassin to kill his dad. Their big plan to get the money (which probably came from some news story, or maybe people around the world are actually getting this idea around the same time) is to get a pizza delivery boy, strap a bomb to him, and get him to rob a bank. Nick is their unlucky victim. Nick recruits Chet to help him and the two attempt to get the money in time to save Nick’s life.

I’ve made it fairly clear that I am extremely dubious that the filmmakers were completely unaware of the Brian Wells situation. What I haven’t made clear is that I would totally accept a comedy based on an unfortunate situation if it were funny enough. The biggest problem with this movie is that it’s not funny. In some situations in this movie, I wasn’t even sure what was supposed to be funny. Jesse Eisenberg makes a Facebook comment that I assume was intended to be funny at one point, but I didn’t press the “like” button on that one. The rest of them I saw were trying to be funny, they just weren’t. The next paragraph will give you my thoughts on why most of the comedy was lost on me, but for the most part, I blame the writers. I assume there was some improv to be had in this movie, but I would say the majority of the failed comedy would be the fault of the writers. A lot of things in this movie just didn’t make sense on a story level either. This would be easily forgiven were the movie funny. There were perhaps plot holes in Hot Tub Time Machine, but you don’t see a comedy for it’s story, you see it for it’s comedy. Since I wasn’t wasting my time laughing in this movie, I paid more attention to the story. First, it’s not a funny situation. Perhaps the fact that this kind of thing happened in real life made the situation too real, but it’s a situation better suited for a drama or an action movie. I don’t see the humor in life threatening situations. Or, perhaps I just didn’t see it in this movie. Jesse and Aziz spend a lot of time fucking around before they go to rob the bank, especially for a guy wearing a bomb and a guy sitting next to a guy wearing a bomb. They go shopping, go get food, go see Jesse’s girlfriend, and Jesse tells off his boss before they decide to work on getting the bomb off by robbing the bank. Then it takes them all of 5 minutes to knock that part out and escape the cops before going back to fucking around. Aziz also feels pretty comfortable making jokes about his friend who MAY be having a bit of a bad day. Another thing that bothered me is that these guys robbed the bank with plastic guns. They get the REAL gun away from the security guard at the bank, and later encounter yet another real gun, but neither of them ever think that they might be able to make use of a real gun and never pick these guns up. One of the big problems of the movie was the amount of money everyone was after. I’m not rich by a long shot, but $100,000 is not THAT much. You DID rob a bank, guys. You could’ve gotten away with more than that. The biggest problem with this movie BY FAR is that Michael Pena’s character makes a joke about the Konami code, calling it the Contra code, and reciting it as something like Up, Down, Up, Down, Select, Start. That’s bullshit, guys! The Konami code is Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start! You completely lost me at that point in the movie. And also when you didn’t do anything funny.

If I were to put this movie’s cast in order of comedic value in the movie, it would read as: Nick Swardson, Michael Pena, the end. But let’s go in order. Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t do anything comical that I can recall in this movie, but I was impressed to see that – once he got the bomb on – his performance was pretty great. He acted like Jesse Eisenberg for the first part of the movie, but when the bomb got on, he was frantic and scared. Danny McBride is really starting to bum me out. This will sound familiar to you if you’ve read all of my reviews, but “Danny McBride plays the same character Danny McBride always plays”. I need to copy that and paste it into future McBride movies. Again, this didn’t used to be a bad thing, but the last time he was funny in a movie was Tropic Thunder. I hope he can get into better movies in the future, otherwise he’s going to lose all appeal for me. I love Nick Swardson. Nick Swardson is a very strange case because he’s a hilarious guy who is usually only in awful movies, but he’s usually the funniest part. I haven’t seen Bucky Larson yet, so his ratio is still pretty good. He’s probably the funniest character in this movie, but even he doesn’t get me to laugh here. Another strange thing about the people in this movie is that people find Aziz Ansari funny. I’m not saying they’re wrong, I’m just saying that I disagree. I find Aziz to be aggressively unfunny. I’ve seen him in a couple movies, I’ve seen him in a TV show, I’ve just never seen him do something funny. Michael Pena was a strange character. He looked like a classic gangbanger, but had a really quirky quality to him that I found vaguely amusing. Just not enough to be funny with the words coming out of his mouth. On a positive note, Dilshad Vadsaria is hot.

I had heard good things about this movie, but it failed to deliver in my opinion. That being the case, I cannot personally recommend you see this movie, but I can say you can find it on RedBox so you can watch it on the cheap and form your own opinions. To me, this movie had a story not suited for comedy, which worked out for it because it also wasn’t funny. So, 30 Minutes or Less gets “Sometimes fate pulls out its big ol’ cock and slaps you right in the face” out of “Fucking victory tacos”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!