Skip to main content

Jack and Jill: The Happy Madison Formula

By Sunny Choi · November 14, 2011

Concerned that people have tired of Adam Sandler’s amiable, down-on-his-luck persona, Sandler and his cohorts may have decided to give cross-dressing a try, inspired by the likes of Hairspray and The Nutty Professor. Unfortunately, Jack and Jill seeks to titillate its young target audience with its tasteless, nonsensical jokes and meaningless cameos. Perhaps we are finally seeing Happy Madison Productions for what it really is–an egotistical machine that churns out vapid comedic formulas purely for profit.

The movie opens with the home video footage of Jill and Jack growing up together. From the very beginning, Jack, a popular kid who gets the girls, finds his clingy sister Jill embarrassing. Jill flies all the way from the Bronx to Los Angeles to visit Jack and his family for Thanksgiving. To Jack’s horror, Jill prolongs her stay. While we occasionally sympathize with her lonely existence, her lack of decorum and squawky laments are just too cringeworthy and irritating to overlook. She’s the type that will jet ski on a pool and spoon her brother while he is asleep. To make matters worse, Jack must also solicit the self-involved, brooding Al Pacino (parodying himself) for a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial to appease his customers. Just when Jack is about to give up, the twitter-pated Pacino approaches Jack to get closer to Jill.

To begin with, this should not have been made into a movie. It felt like one of those Saturday Night Live sketches with an obnoxious character that repeatedly embarrasses herself and everyone else around them. I admit, I laughed when Jill crushes the poor pony with her weight and even when she hits her head on the game show wheel. But these are sketch-worthy moments, not film-worthy moments. One can view these clips on Youtube without paying ten dollars at the movie theater.

Moreover, the movie should have been rated PG-13 instead of PG because many of the jokes are inappropriate for a young audience. For example, many parents will disapprove of Jack essentially prostituting his sister. He promotes her on Craigslist’s casual encounters in hopes that someone will take her away. Jack also pressures and tricks Jill into dating Pacino so that he’ll agree to do the commercial. Based on its rating and tame jokes from the trailer, I was anticipating a family-oriented holiday movie. I was dismayed to see so much mean-spirited sexual manipulation from the protagonist.

Not to mention the violence was just horrible and pointless. In the film, Jill knocks out a Mexican toothless old lady about five times, once with a pinata stick and the other with a soccer ball. However, we are not to panic, as she is quickly revived with a few sticks of jalapeno peppers. When Jack (disguised as Jill) lashes out against Pacino for his surly comments, he smashes a chair WWE style on her. The movie disturbingly condones violence against women and the elderly.

The numerous cameos exacerbate the movie’s cheap, commercialized feel. I cannot understand why two “serious” actors like Pacino and Johnny Depp agreed to do this film. Especially Pacino. If you want to see Pacino sing an auto-tuned rap jingle for Dunkin’ Donuts, you can pay ten dollars at the theater. If you want to remember Pacino as the character actor in The Godfather, I would advise you to stay away from this movie. I would expect such poor judgment from Jared the subway man (he is also in this movie) but not Pacino. Despite their different areas of specialty, whether it be method-acting, juvenile comedies, or spokesman-ship, Pacino, Depp, Sandler, and Jared are all in this for the money.

All in all, I felt utterly conned by the kid-friendly title. I was expecting a dorky but cute sibling rivalry comedy, but instead, I witnessed a string of gross manipulation, jokes catered to the lowest common denominator, and headache-inducing bickering between two Sandlers. I declare that enough is enough. Until Happy Madison cleans up its act, we should think twice about watching its movies.