It’s safe to say I’m not an Adam Sandler fan. I can see the appeal of his earlier work and he was great in Punch Drunk Love, but that just serves to make his period of completely not trying, using movies as an excuse for paid exotic excursions with his buddies and his whorish fellating of corporate sponsorship all the more offensive. Movies like Jack and Jill and The Ridiculous Six are barely films. They’re lazy, cynical products stuffed with ugly humour. I can’t resent people finding them funny too much as humour is completely subjective, but I do resent the way in which Sandler’s riding on a wave of unearned nostalgia for his particular brand of “entertainment” with effort going into all the wrong areas.
The Do-Over is Sandler’s second Netflix project. Sandler plays Max Kessler, an FBI agent who finds his high school BFF, Charlie (David Spade) in a bad place in his life. Charlie’s a meek and submissive bank manager for a bank inside a supermarket, married to a woman who belittles and cheats on him and father to two young punks who have no respect for him whatsoever. Max swoops in and takes Charlie on a yacht, reminding him of all the good times they had. Max drugs Charlie and blows up the yacht, ostensibly killing them. The pair then assume the identities of two dead men and Max gives Charlie a chance to have a fresh start. However, the lives the men have assumed carry life baggage with them and they soon find themselves embroiled in a big plot that has heavily armed men pursuing them across the globe.
The Do-Over‘s construction is more involved than I initially gave it credit for. It functions like a standard comedy script and there are actually set up jokes that pay off or are called back to later in the film. It even has twists based around new information coming to light. Now, granted- 90% of films should have these things as the bare minimum, but I was surprised that a modern Sandler film even bothered with genre conventions at all. The inexcusable Jack and Jill just existed, with one scene happening, finishing and then another starting, with no real reason why and no flow between skits whatsoever. The Do-Over actually has some elements of proper storytelling to it and whilst the bar is set so low crabs could trip on it, I have to call out good things when I see them. For instance, David Spade actually puts in a comedy character performance, with the nebbish Charlie being a fair distance away from the usual smarmy, insufferable scrotes Spade usually plays.
Is it funny? Nope. I’m sure there are people out there who wet themselves every time Sandler cracks a gag, but I ain’t one of them. Like with the structure, I could see how certain things could be funny, but the film had me rolling my eyes, sighing and checking how long was left throughout. Not one joke or gag worked and most of them had concerning things to say about Sandler’s outlook on life.
Y’see, I may have vaguely praised The Do-Over a bit, but that doesn’t stop it from being truly awful in a whole bunch of ways. Sandler’s character of Max is an awesome badass, who is meant to be the hero of the piece. Apart from providing us with the hilarious spectacle of having scenes where he’s all serious and shoots guns, Sandler seems to be playing an idealised version of himself, complete with little to no flaws and leaving all the pratfalling and looking dumb to Spade. There’s always been an off-putting sense of ego to his work and the character of Max is a complete monument to that. It may have writers, directors and all the other filmmaking things, but Sandler owns all the toys and he’s not going to bother with anything that doesn’t make him look good or conform to his seemingly depressed, misogynistic and angry world view.
Gender politics and Happy Madison productions have never seen eye-to-eye. Women do not come across well in The Do-Over. All the women are either crazy bitches, nymphomaniacs or both. Paula Patton (who can do so much better than this toss) is the standard “hot one” with a relatively normal personality. That is until the film decides to (SPOILER I guess, but get real) reveal that she’s been a crazy bitch all along and was manipulating our poor innocent males with her feminine charms. There’s one eyebrow-raising scene when Charlie fights her, thumping her whilst screaming about being tired of being lied to and screwed over by women. The message of the film, as gossamer thin as it is, seems to be an asinine “bros before hoes” kind of deal and instead of it making me laugh, it just bugged me how a powerful and influential 49 year old man has the sensibilities of a dumb 13 year old kid. With great power, there must also come great responsibility. Why do people always forget about the responsibility part?
So I hated every turgid second of The Do-Over. I know you won’t believe me, but I do try and keep an open mind and I’m always delighted when low expectations are met with a surprisingly good product. People will tell you to turn your brain off, that it’s a typical Sandler movie and that critics just wanted to hate it, but that’s more troubling than anything else. I can imagine liking it, but feeling so passionately about it that you defend and make excuses for it? That’s straight-up alien behaviour and you may want to have a word with yourself.
If you’re a Sandler fan, you don’t need me to tell you what I think. However, if you’re opposed or indifferent to Sandler’s nonsense and you’re absent-mindedly browsing Netflix and see the thumbnail, please don’t bother. It’ll only hurt.