As the good parts grow slimmer and the docking fees grow larger, all Great Actors have the inevitable late-career embarrassment, when the gravitas that dignified their classic performances only serves to deepen their humiliation. Think Orson Welles in The Transformers: The Movie, Marlon Brando in The Island Of Doctor Moreau, or Robert De Niro in, well, much of the last two decades. Playing himself in Jack And Jill, a deadly comedy starring Adam Sandler as identical twins of different genders, Al Pacino spends most of his time trying to seduce Sandler’s female character, the mannish Jill, and the film is an inventory of new lows. Pacino tickles Jill’s hairy armpits. He flails around to The Monkees. He busts a few rhymes in a choreographed rap number. And he does it all with a self-deprecating zeal that’s simultaneously sad and winning.
Still, Pacino is by far the best thing about Jack And Jill, because at least he’s making an effort. When he isn’t around, there are whole scenes in which Sandler, as both cynical advertising wizard Jack and abrasive-but-well-meaning Jill, sits around the house with his movie family, seemingly waiting around for somebody to feed him a line. (That line usually arrives in the form of a fart.) The thin plot brings the estranged siblings together over the holidays, which are extended from Thanksgiving to New Year’s because the lonely Jill needs some company. Jack’s hostility toward his sister softens a little when he hatches a plan to use her womanly charms to lure Pacino into doing a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial.
Jack And Jill operates like most other Adam Sandler comedies: He plays an angry, mush-mouthed manchild, his saintly better half (Katie Holmes) clucks at him like Marge Simpson, Sandler’s buddies make cameo appearances, product placements cover the bulk of the $80 million production budget, and the third act is awash in unearned sentiment. What makes Jack And Jill worse than the average Sandler vehicle is Jill, who’s been conceived as little more than a dude in drag, hold the jokes. Given the chance, Pacino could have taken a role like that to wild—though perhaps transcendently awful—new places. Because he can’t be bothered, Sandler strands himself in the middle of a 90-minute Saturday Night Live sketch.