Saturday, November 12, 2011

Turn that expression back on thyself, Sandler

It's here. Today's the day.

The most notorious film of 2011 is hitting theaters.

That's right, if you are a self-hating masochist, you could actually go out to the movies this weekend and see Jack and Jill, in all its loathesomeness.

But just look into Adam Sandler's eyes. Is he trying to tell you not to?

I'd like to think that. But I don't, really. I think Adam Sandler has nothing but contempt for his audience, and the more tickets he sells to Jack and Jill, the more he will laugh at us.

I can just imagine the theoretical writer's room where this "idea" was hashed out. Imagine the following line of dialogue in Sandler's voice:

"Hey, I got this idea where I'll play twins. It doesn't really matter what happens, I'll just dress up in drag and I'll be my twin sister. It'll be funny. I'll do a funny woman's voice or something. We can call it, I don't know, Jack and Jill. Something like that. It writes itself."

Lazy, lazy, wretched, lazy.

There are lots of ways I could describe this awful train wreck, but today I'd like to focus on that facial expression the male Sandler wears in this poster above.

It's an expression that Sandler has kind of made his trademark. Let's call it the "Why I oughtta" expression. In the "Why I oughtta" expression, Sandler displays his bemused frustration with some kind of instigating factor -- most likely, a person who annoys him, and in this case, his twin sister Jill. He's had it up to here, and it's all he can do to keep himself from hauling off and cold-cocking that person. The "Why I oughtta" expression is usually followed by some kind of muttered threat that's tossed off rather lazily and not written very cleverly.

What's most insulting about this expression is that it seems to give Sandler the moral high ground. It implies that he, Sandler, is above the fray. He's not only the guy we identify with, because we would also be annoyed in that scenario, but he's even better than that guy. He's some cool customer who has the misfortune of being surrounded by idiots.

But Sandler, you're the idiot.

It's tempting to think that you have enough money to stop making the most obvious, uninspired dreck that occurs to you. Funny People was not a perfect film, but it had the benefit of seeming to apologize for your past choices that were beneath what you're capable of doing. And we've seen what you're capable of doing, in films like Funny People and Punch-Drunk Love. I don't recall the actual spoof films your Funny People character supposedly appeared in, but they're ridiculous, and are clearly meant to take yourself to task for your indiscriminate career choices.

By then proceeding to make Jack and Jill, it's the same as if Tracy Morgan actually made Who Dat Ninja? or Sherlock Homie. Those are the fake movie posters that hang on the dressing room wall of his 30 Rock alter ego, Tracy Jordan.

Now, there is one factor I'm not properly considering. It's possible that Sandler is laughing at us, but not in the way we think. It has been suggested that Jack and Jill could be an intentional case of self-parody -- one of those fake Sandler movies in Funny People actually come to life. This could be an Andy Kaufman moment for Sandler, where he is thumbing his nose at the entire film establishment. If so, it's brilliant, because he would have had to dupe a bunch of studio execs into thinking he legitimately wanted to make this movie. Otherwise, they'd never go for a concept that has every chance to make them looking like laughingstocks.

But I don't know, I kind of doubt it. With other recent films like Grown-Ups and Just Go With It under his belt, it's clear Sandler legitimately does not know how to pick 'em.

Still, it could end up being a win-win situation for Sandler, if he's able to write that narrative in retrospect. If Jack and Jill is a success -- and its 24 Metascore suggests it probably won't be -- he can just take credit. If it flops, he can say that it was intentional self-parody, and he'll still have the last laugh ... if people buy it.

Me, I guess I should thank Sandler for making Jack and Jill, because Jack and Jill is directly responsible for my new banner atop the page. About a month ago I put up a new banner, as you probably noticed, and I only know about this image of George C. Scott covering his eyes with disbelief because of Sandler's new movie. If you haven't already seen it -- and can stand to expose yourself to the trailer for Jack and Jill once more -- you should check out this great video of Scott watching the Jack and Jill trailer.

Of course, the actual footage of Scott is from a movie called Hardcore, which I haven't seen, but which I now must. By featuring a frustrated audience member, this still seemed perfect for my blog ... more perfect than a closeup of Ben Wishaw's nose from Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, anyway. (Aha! So that's what that was!)

For the sake of Sandler's soul -- which I really do want to like -- I hope that Jack and Jill is, in fact, self-parody.

Because if you're trying to play that scene with Jill riding a jet ski in a swimming pool for straight-faced laughs ... well, Sandler, all I can say is "Why I oughtta ..."

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