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Jack and Jill: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Review

Jack and Jill (2011) movie poster Jack and Jill

Theatrical Release: November 11, 2011 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: PG / Songs List

Director: Dennis Dugan / Writers: Steve Koren, Adam Sandler (screenplay); Ben Zook (story)

Cast: Adam Sandler (Jack Sadelstein, Jill Sadelstein), Al Pacino (Himself), Katie Holmes (Erin Sadelstein), Elodie Tougne (Sofia Sadelstein), Rohan Chand (Gary Sadelstein), Eugenio Derbez (Felipe, Felipe's Grandma), David Spade (Monica), Nick Swardson (Todd), Tim Meadows (Ted), Allen Covert (Otto), Norm Macdonald (Funbucket), Geoff Pierson (Carter Simmons), Valerie Mahaffey (Bitsy Simmons), Gary Valentine (Dallas), Dana Carvey (Scraggly Puppeteer), Regis Philbin (Himself), Gad Elmaleh (Xavier), Dan Patrick (Himself), Shaquille O'Neal (Himself), Drew Carey (Himself), John McEnroe (Himself), Christie Brinkley (Herself), Michael Irvin (Himself), Bill Romanowski (Himself), Jared Fogle (Himself), Billy Blanks (Himself), Vince Offer (Sham-Wow Guy), Bruce Jenner (Himself), Jonathan Loughran (Monica's Boyfriend), Peter Dante (Carol's Boyfriend), John Farley (Mort the Hot Dog Vendor), Dennis Dugan (Al Pacino's Standby), Johnny Depp (Himself - uncredited)

Buy Jack and Jill from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy Blu-ray + UVDC DVD Instant Video

Adam Sandler is like Woody Allen. Everyone says his best work is behind him, yet he still makes a new movie every year. Where the two Jewish NYU alumni differ is in critical reception and at the box office. Allen's highbrow comedies are always tolerated and often praised, but rarely profitable.
Sandler's lowbrow diversions are usually scorched by critics but the closest thing to certain success at the box office, even with the star's huge salaries and rising budgets around them. Last year, Woody Allen bounced back, with the Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris being his most praised and best-attended work in decades. Meanwhile, Sandler seems to have hit rock bottom with Jack and Jill, his broadest and most scathingly reviewed outing, and also his lowest-grossing signature vehicle since 2000's Little Nicky.

This farce, which casts Sandler in both of the title roles as fraternal twins, can perhaps be credited with ending the funnyman's 13-year streak of $100 million grossing mainstream comedies. That record requires overlooking anything Sandler has done outside his comfort zone: R-rated fare like Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People, the animated Eight Crazy Nights, and James L. Brooks' dramedy Spanglish. In that case, maybe Jack and Jill can get a pass, since it received a PG rating (only Sandler's second) and a more family-oriented marketing push. It also opened in November, eleven years and a day after Little Nicky began its outlier run; with just a few exceptions, summer has been the Sandman's regular season. And yet, as poorly as Jack and Jill performed, it still grossed quite a bit more than Midnight in Paris, which puts the high expectations attached to Sandler's projects in perspective.

Jill (Adam Sandler) has more in common with Jack (Adam Sandler) than he would care to admit, as their synchronized theatrical gas-passing demonstrates to Jack's adopted son Gary (Rohan Chand).

No nursery rhyme adaptation, Jack and Jill brings together grown siblings who have drifted apart. Jack Sadelstein is an ordinary Angeleno; he is a partner at a reasonably successful advertising agency and he has a wife (a flavorless Katie Holmes) and two kids (Rohan Chand, Elodie Tougne). Jack's sister Jill is a minute younger and a lot less well-adjusted. The lifelong spinster lives in the Bronx with her pet cockatoo Poopsie. A bigger woman, she is unintentionally loud and obnoxious.

For her Thanksgiving visit, Jill flies into LA at 4:30 in the morning, the first of many inconveniences her brother will endure. Jill sweats an outline of her body into the bed and makes a big dramatic scene at the dinner table. Her idea of "twin time" is to reacquaint Jack to the gibberish language they used as children. And of course, Jill isn't leaving after Thanksgiving weekend. She'll stay through Hanukkah and then her and Jack's December birthday and then New Year's Eve, because holidays are about family. Jill hasn't seen enough of Jack's and there is no one waiting for her back in New York.

The silver lining to Jill's extended stay is that she catches the eye of one Al Pacino (playing himself at length). Jack has been pursuing the acting legend to make a Dunkin Donuts commercial, an improbable mission needed to please one of his agency's most important clients. Jill, meanwhile, has started online dating, with copious amounts of assistance from Jack and his family. Alas, though eager to find a soulmate, Jill is less than impressed by the star of film, stage, and television and his rich, romantic gestures. Bring on the cross-dressing!

Jill Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) makes a general annoyance of herself as her brother's extended houseguest. Acting legend Al Pacino (in his casual clothes) is inexplicably quite enamored with Jill.

Adam Sandler has one of the most enviable lives of anyone on our planet. He is paid a reported $20-$25 million for every film on which he serves as writer, producer, and star. Other people make more money than that, but few do so for such enjoyable work. As if the three-month filming schedules and probably even quicker writing process weren't easy enough, Sandler has increasingly turned each movie into a working vacation. On Grown Ups, he rounded up his old "Saturday Night Live" castmates and Kevin James for summer cabin fun in New England.
Just Go With It brought him and his entourage back to scenic Hawaii, where he previously shot 50 First Dates. Jack and Jill adds to that tradition with an entire act set aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Can you imagine a few months of hanging out with your longtime friends and collaborators making you enough money to live the entire rest of your life comfortably? And then be able to do it again a year later in another fun and glamorous setting. It sounds a bit like Billy Madison's lifestyle before returning to school, only with more pools and fewer hallucinations.

There is responsibility involved, however, and Sandler somehow manages to deliver again and again and again. Not artistically, mind you. Apart from The Wedding Singer and his R-rated side gigs for directors like Paul Thomas Anderson and Judd Apatow, every one of Sandler's films holds a rotten rating on the critical aggregator Rotten Tomatoes (Happy Gilmore, probably his best and most beloved signature comedy, is right on the bubble of freshness with 59% approval). Where Sandler excels is with the general public. Not even so much with winning them over, as the often middling IMDb, Yahoo! Movies, and Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings show. But winning them over enough to buy tickets and DVDs. No other modern comedy actor has held that kind of power over the people as long and reliably as Sandler. Not Eddie Murphy, not Jim Carrey, not Ben Stiller or Will Ferrell yet, and certainly not Mike Myers. The only other actors who have proven comparably reliable draws are the likes of Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks, people not primarily identified as comedians.

Even if you're not a Sandler fan, you have to admire his business savvy and enduring relevance. Among critics, I happen to be one of Sandler's biggest fans, but lately his consistency and familiarity impress me a lot more than the movies themselves. Charting the quality of his output, I would say it's been going downhill for as long now as it ever went uphill, although he's had hits and misses all over the curve.

Not so surprisingly, Jack and Jill is a miss. I'd rank it along with 2008's You Don't Mess with the Zohan near the bottom of Sandler's on-camera oeuvre (not counting his cameos in the many lesser Happy Madison Productions). In some ways, this is a return for Sandler. Along with Zohan, Jill Sadelstein represents a now-rare effort by the star to portray a character other than a lazy, sarcastic everyman. On "SNL" and in his first movie roles, Sandler made conscious efforts to give his characters distinct voices, fashions, and personalities. Somewhere along the way, he decided that his regular hairstyle and old T-shirts and jeans (or jean shorts, in a tropical climate) were good enough, so long as there was a hot wife and goofy supporting characters. There's a lot more of Jill than Jack and as offensive as the drag act may be to heavyset, middle-aged single women, it at least represents some creativity and stretching. I'd be lying if I said the loud, buffoonish sister didn't cause the corners of my lips to curl from time to time. Still, the laughs don't come with nearly enough frequency and the film is a mess storywise.

Katie Holmes plays Adam Sandler's converted wife Erin to virtually no effect. A bewigged Shaquille O'Neal is an enthusiastic spokesman for King's Ham in one of the film's countless celebrity cameos.

It's almost tough to even wrap your head around Jack and Jill as a feature film and piece of storytelling, because it is filled with a dizzying array of celebrity cameos. The stable of Sandler regulars seems to grow with every new production. Here, we get the usual appearances by the '90s "SNL" gang. There's Tim Meadows, Norm Macdonald, David Spade (in drag), and Dana Carvey (picking up his first film credit since 2002 joke The Master of Disguise). (Kevin Nealon was cut, and Rob Schneider only gets a namedrop.) Then there are the Happy Madison regulars, whose faces are familiar even if their names are not. This class includes Allen Covert (randomly reprising his homeless Happy Gilmore caddy Otto); blink-and-miss turns by Peter Dante, Jonathan Loughran, and Dennis Dugan (who directs Sandler here for the seventh time overall and the third time in the past eighteen months); and, though he has a career beyond this, Nick Swardson.

Still more famous people join the parade just for the heck of it. Johnny Depp sits courtside at a Lakers game next to his Donnie Brasco co-star. Bruce Jenner pops up in one of Pacino's interrupted plays. Shaquille O'Neal and Regis Philbin tape ludicrous commercials. Drew Carey appears in a "Price is Right" segment (reminding us he's no Bob Barker). A plethora of other big names (former athletes and prior Sandler co-stars John McEnroe and Michael Irvin) and faces (Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, Tae Bo instructor Billy Blanks, Sham-Wow pitchman Vince Offer) attend a random work party.

Really, the whole movie is one big party, whose DJ plays an endless stream of familiar and no doubt costly pop songs from the likes of Run-D.M.C., The Monkees, The Go-Go's, The Ting Tings, Sonny & Cher, and Electric Light Orchestra. Unfortunately, though, all the talent assembled (especially Pacino, who surpasses even Jack Nicholson as least expected Sandler co-star) appears to be having more fun than the viewers who are asked to make sense of this slapdash affair.

The critical reaction to Jack and Jill was exactly what you expected it to be. Infamous contrarian Armond White came up with stupid reasons to lavish praise upon it ("shows the depths of kinship", "explores affection without the class and gender guilt", "Sandler knows how our plumbing works"), while practically everyone else pointed out that this was just as outlandish and inane as the movies that Sandler's Funny People character had made.

I expected the film to fall short of Sandler's usual $100 M range at the domestic box office and it did, but not by very much. Its $74.1 M domestic gross is shy of the indefensible $79 M production budget and foreign grosses have yet to match that. Still, the aforementioned funnymen (Murphy, Myers, et al.) would kill for their flops to do so well. Now 45, Sandler's marquee value remains unquestionable. Even if his next two releases outside his comfort zone -- the R-rated summer comedy That's My Boy away from his regular team and the fall CG-animated comedy Hotel Transylvania -- do not reach the usual heights, Grown Ups 2 has recently been scheduled for July 2013 release.

On Tuesday, a week after Sandler earned a record eleven negative Razzie award nominations, Jack and Jill comes to DVD, Blu-ray, and the Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack we review here.

Jack and Jill: Blu-ray + DVD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.85:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, English DVS)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Video Service, French)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English and Spanish
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $40.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in standalone Blu-ray ($35.99 SRP), standalone DVD ($30.99 SRP),
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

As necessitated by its exorbitant (for a live-action comedy) budget, Jack and Jill does boast excellent picture and sound on Blu-ray. The 1.85:1 presentation is immaculate, vibrant, and sharp, granting us crystal-clear looks at what are surprisingly terrific visual effects, make-up, and eyeline matches. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix doesn't contain much of note, but it too meets high expectations for a new major studio 2011 film and comes to life satisfactorily in the many needle drops.

The DVD's anamorphic picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound are both exquisite for standard definition.

Jill (Adam Sandler) enjoys a taste of Al Pacino cake to the actor's delight in this deleted scene. Kevin Nealon's 1966 baby delivery scene isn't in the movie, but its outtakes make the blooper reel.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's bonus features number six and are all presented in HD.

First and longest is a group of thirteen deleted scenes (19:07). A good number of these are self-contained and relatively substantial, including a pool race (an instance where digital head replacement has clearly been performed), Jill eating an Al Pacino cake in a helicopter with Al Pacino, a patently gross porta-potty scene, and more to the party appearance by Sandler fave Dan Patrick of ESPN fame.

"Laughing is Contagious" (3:44) is the obligatory blooper reel, supplying the usual fumbled lines and ensuing chortles.

Enjoying his biggest Sandler movie role since "Billy Madison", Norm Macdonald is one of many famous faces who stop by in the disc's closest to a making-of featurette. Regis Philbin, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, and Dennis Dugan enjoy a fun moment on bed together.

"Look Who Stopped By" (8:33) celebrates the film's endless stream of celebrity cameos, showing us plenty of unused material and a bit of behind-the-scenes tomfoolery.

"Boys Will Be Girls" (3:44) considers Sandler's transgendering transformation (telling instead of showing), as well as Eugenio Derbez's horrifying secondary turn as Felipe's Grandma.

Finally, there are two short, minor Blu-ray exclusives. "Stomach Ache" (4:20) provides behind-the-scenes of Regis Philbin's Pepto-Bismol commercial shoot, capturing the TV legend acting spunky for the B-roll cameras. "Don't Call It a Boat - Royal Caribbean" (2:34) is basically a promotional plug for the cruise line that housed the production, an undoubtedly mutually beneficial arrangement.

Director Dennis Dugan gives Royal Caribbean cruise line two thumbs up, a rating no critic gave his film. On Blu-ray and DVD, "Jack and Jill" gets a plain animated menu.

The Blu-ray is also equipped with BD-Live, but it currently offers little more than easy access to stream trailers for Sony family titles like Hook, Jumanji, and Muppets from Space.
Has Sony already abandoned their IMDb-powered movieIQ technology?

Thankfully and sensibly, the DVD included in the combo pack is the same one sold on its own. It contains the four non-exclusive extras, including all 19 minutes of deletions.

Both Blu-ray and DVD open with trailers for The Smurfs, Zookeeper, Grown Ups, and The Mighty Macs. These are all also individually accessible from a Previews section, which adds ads for Soul Surfer and Just Go With It. Jack and Jill's own trailer is a no-show.

Both formats employ a scored and perfectly standard menu, in which stills and clips float by, the latter occasionally filling the screen. The BD supports bookmarks on the film and resumes playback on everything even after power-down and disc ejection.

The silver DVD and full-color Blu-ray claim opposite sides of a side-snapped regular Blu-ray case, which is topped by an unremarkable cardboard slipcover. Inserts provide codes for Sony Movie Rewards and an UltraViolet digital copy. That's right; from now through at least March 2014, this set will allow you and up to six family members to stream the movie to your compatible portable devices with the necessary accounts and activation.

Jack and Jill (both Adam Sandler) share a smile after demonstrating their double dutch skills on a cruise ship.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Many of Adam Sandler's latest comedies have just barely met my definition of "entertaining", but Jack and Jill falls short of that, qualifying as a pretty crass, awful vehicle. While the distaff protagonist is one of the actor's boldest characters to date and provides some sporadic amusement, the whole is just very short on appeal. That subpar execution by a most recognizable brand makes me question if the signature Sandler movies of yore I so enjoyed were truly better or if I just didn't know any better back then. I prefer the former option and maintain that his comedies from the '90s and early 2000s and a few since are among the funniest of their time. It would be nice to be reminded of that, though, with another strong effort.

Jack and Jill's Blu-ray delivers a technically flawless presentation and a decent 40 minutes of bonus features. If you're not working on a complete Adam Sandler collection, this is one to pass on. His fans should still want to see it at some point.

Buy Jack and Jill from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy / Blu-ray + UVDC / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New - Fall 2011 Movies: Puss in Boots Hugo The Big Year The Rum Diary Real Steel The Mighty Macs
Adam Sandler: Just Go With It Bedtime Stories Grown Ups Zookeeper Funny People
Katie Holmes: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark | Al Pacino: Scarface The Godfather Trilogy
Cross-Dressing Comedy: Mrs. Doubtfire Norbit | Happy Madison Productions: Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Jack and Jill Songs List: Sonny & Cher - "I Got You Babe", Electric Light Orchestra - "Don't Bring Me Down", "Price is Right Theme", "Price is Right Opening", Giorgio Moroder - "Finale" from Scarface; Matty Melnick Orchestra - "Bicycle Chase", "Cold Pan", "Hot Pan", "Down Among the Sheltering Palms", "La Cumparista", "Park Avenue Fantasy"; The PlaceMints featuring Cho & Yung-1 - "The Plastic", Barry Manilow - "Somewhere in the Night", Jordan Zevon - "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", "Silver Bells", Beastie Boys - "Make Some Noise", 2 Unlimited - "Twilight Zone", The Movement - "Jump!", 2 Unlimited - "Tribal Dance", Peter Dante and Dina Rae - "Baby It's Cold Outside", Jay Sean - "Down", Marty James - "Kick Ya Feet Up", The Ting Tings - "Shut Up and Let Me Go", "Happy Birthday to You", Dion & The Belmonts - "The Wanderer", Richard Kiley - "The Impossible Dream", Texas Tornado - "(Hey Baby) Que Paso", Nortec Collective - "Tengo La Voz", The Go-Go's - "Vacation", KC & The Sunshine Band - "Give It Up", Run-DMC - "It's Tricky", Disco Blu - "Call Me Crazy", The Monkees - "I'm a Believer", Avril Lavigne - "Goodbye", Tony Orlando & Dawn - "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)", Al Pacino - "Dunkaccino", UB40 featuring Chrissie Hynde - "I Got You Babe"

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Reviewed March 2, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Columbia Pictures, Happy Madison Productions, and 2012 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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