The Do-Over (2016)

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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.

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The exclusivity wars : Whoever wins, we lose

Netflix and other on demand services of its ilk have had such a huge impact on viewing habits in such a short amount of time. Don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit sick of service exclusive content and I can see some unpleasant things on the horizon. Speaking of which, I assume you’ve heard about Adam Sandler’s four-film deal with Netflix? Basically, the theoretical comedian has made a deal to produce and star in four films for the company. Also, the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will premiere exclusively on the service. That’s great an’ all but what if you don’t have a Netflix account? What if you’ve signed up to Amazon Instant Video instead and can only justify one VOD subscription? Well, the answer seems to be “fuck you”. No terrible Sandler film or potentially great martial arts action for you. If these experiments are successful, you can bet that this’ll only be the start of it. Expect to see more exclusive studio deals with all new and back catalogue titles only appearing on one service. Fancy watching an X-Men film? Fuck you NowTV subscriber, Netflix has a deal with 20th Century Fox and all future, past and Days of Future Past X-Flicks will only be available there, so choke on it. Or, even better, each studio will create its own streaming service. Hooray for Paramount on Demand! Watch Transformers: Age of Extinction and Top Gun for only £7.99 a month! Not available on any other service!

This may seem like a bit of a leap and yes, this is all massively speculative, but I’ve just got a bad feeling about this. That’s not to say I’m completely blinkered. I can definitely see the potential. It means there’s another option for films to reach the masses. We could get showcases for directors the mainstream won’t take a chance on. It could be massive for the indie movie scene. We could get sequels to things that should rightfully have them but are deemed “too risky”, like Dredd. If they’re smart about this, it could be awesome. However, we all know how Hollywood can be, chasing the short-term gain over any kind of rational plan. This is an industry where you’ve got big cheeses like Jeffrey Katzenberg thinking along the lines of a pay by screen size system where cinemas only have films for 3 weeks and then it’s up for download. Of course, what ol’ Katzy hasn’t taken into account is how unenforceable the system would be and the fact that it would make cinemas pretty much pointless and ensure that they make even less on ticket sales than they do now. But that’s just it. They don’t think. With that in mind, why wouldn’t they go for something like this?  They’re already terrified of Video on Demand as a competitor for eyeballs and wallets. So why wouldn’t they ally themselves with the enemy and get a fat payday now so their executives can afford to go diamond parasailing or whatever the hell rich people do for the next few years?

Physical media is already dying so this digital only future may come sooner than you think. Sony posted record losses this year and most of the blame is at Blu-ray’s door. It sucks because I’m a fan of physical media. I like having a collection. I like the convenience of watching what I want, when I want. You don’t have that with VOD services. You’re at their mercy. Films and shows are taken down on a whim and with very little warning. I know some people selling their film collections because they have Netflix. Seems short-sighted to me. At least when you have a Blu-ray or DVD, you actually own the thing and its availability isn’t down to the outcome of various meetings with studios.

All of this stuff diminishes the advantages that streaming has over piracy. People won’t care about all the new exclusive films, because they’ll be ripped and reuploaded on torrenting sites mere hours after they’re made available in a bog-standard file that doesn’t do anything stupid like limit viewing options. If this continues, the only advantage that streaming will have is the fact it’s legal – and we all know how many fucks the general public give about that. Why bother paying per month for a limited library that may or may not have the things you like when you can get an unlimited HD file of something you actually want for free?

Let’s not forget what “exclusive” means: not shared with others; belonging or catering to a minority. It’s a rather worrying trend. So unless you want to spend a ridiculous amount per month, you might be seeing fewer films in the future and that’s pretty saddening.

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