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Adam Sandler falls down in 'Jack and Jill'

USA Today
By Scott Bowles

About the movie

"Jack and Jill"
1/2 * out of four

Stars: Adam Sandler, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes
Director: Dennis Dugan
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Rating: PG for crude material including suggestive references, language, comic violence and brief smoking.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Opens Friday nationwide

Somewhere in Adam Sandler's body, an adult hides.

He's nowhere to be found in "Jack and Jill," though, a comedy that has one good joke, four strange cameos and a spirit so juvenile kids may wonder what Sandler's deal is.

It's a valid question. Sandler seems to suffer from cinematic bipolar disorder: In films in which he simply stars, such as Paul Thomas Anderson's masterful "Punch-Drunk Love," Sandler shows surprising depth as an actor.

But when his Happy Madison production company handles his movies, as it did "Little Nicky" and "Mr. Deeds," the wheels seem to come off in a cloud of fat and flatulence jokes. Both are on full exhibit in "Jack," which could be Sandler's worst film. And that's saying something.

Sandler plays Jack and Jill Sadelstein, twins whose personalities are as different as their appearances are similar (there isn't much attempt to hide that it's Sandler in drag). Somewhere, a documentary awaits to explain why so many of Hollywood's leading men —Martin Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Sandler — want to cross-dress on screen.

Regardless, it doesn't work. Sandler's Jill is such a honking Bronx battle-ax that she doesn't convince as a human character, male or female.

The story is simple enough: Jill visits for Thanksgiving and winds up staying two months, wreaking havoc at Jack's house and workplace, where he's trying to convince Al Pacino to be a pitchman for Dunkin' Donuts. A fun distraction during the film is to play "spot the sponsor'' — there are dozens.

Jill's home invasion takes us down some conventional comedy paths: She tries Mexican food that gives her uncontrollable diarrhea. She has gas issues. Her rear end is a threat to expandable fabric.

But what makes "Jack" pseudo-watchable is the star lineup that was snookered into this train wreck. Sandler must be a nice guy in person because he convinced Johnny Depp and Al Pacino to take speaking roles (along with some stranger choices like Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials and Vince Shlomi, the salesman from the ShamWow ads).

Depp gets off screen quickly, but Pacino is a true puzzler. He plays a discombobulated Al Pacino, hectoring fans at his plays and falling uncontrollably for Jill. Pacino gets the one good joke here, making fun of his lone Oscar win. But seeing him get aroused by a puffy Sandler, including laying in Sandler's bed's sweat stain, is funny-weird, not funny-ha-ha.

Credit "Jack" this: It ends fittingly enough, with Sandler and Pacino watching footage of Pacino trying to dance to a rap song. "This," Pacino tells Sandler's character, "can never be seen."

Amen, Al.