By Billy Rath (Holmdel, NJ, USA)
So…first thing’s first. Before I get into everything, I watched this movie with an open mind. I really did. After The Ridiculous 6 I really just wanted to believe that we were going to get something different from good ol’ Adam for once. The Do-Over is a generic, cardboard cutout of any other Sandler flick that we’ve all watched before. Everything you’d expect to be in a Sandler movie is in there. The only thing that was missing was a Steve Buscemi appearance. And that kind of made me sad because I love Steve Buscemi. Perhaps the only difference is the mature rating given by Netflix. There’s some titties and f-bombs but you know it doesn’t really benefit or undermine the movie at all. It’s just kind of there. I guess he wanted to appeal to the young teenagers who like to rebel and watch mature stuff to make them feel mature? Which is smart…and it’s on Netflix so those kids don’t have to worry about not being accepted into the theater or anything like that.
Apparently Sandler has a four-movie contract with Netflix. I believe this is his second feature of the contract after The Ridiculous 6. Thank God it’s not in the theaters. I personally think because of the R rating alone, it wouldn’t have been as successful as he had wanted it to be. I think this was Adam’s best option. Netflix is a great medium because I often find myself saying, “Aw, fuck it, might as well get this piece of shit over with.” Like why not it’s a subscription service and I can watch unlimited movies anyway at my leisure. And I can do that all without feeling the shame of essentially handing him my money at the movie theater. I unfortunately find myself doing this a lot because I just get too eager and I want to see whatever movie right when it comes out, like Batman v Superman for example.
Critics have been taking Sandler’s movies with a grain of salt ever since Billy Madison came out. They may not be aesthetically good movies, but at least they have the charm of the 90s. And with the 90s you have nostalgia, at least with people my age you do. However, if you take the charm and innocence out of the first several Happy Madison Productions you can really see how much has remained the same. There is no doubt that there are a lot of objectively bad things with The Do-Over and Sandler movies in general. The word ‘creative’ doesn’t come to mind when someone mentions an Adam Sandler flick. Just because you change the framework around a bit (new exotic locations, a video game nerd, an FBI Agent/Coroner/Guidance Counselor) doesn’t mean you’ve made something new and original. And I really don’t have anything against Adam Sandler. He’s a nice guy, he’s super friendly, he’s probably amazingly fun to party with, in fact that’s probably something I’d put on my bucket list. However, it just aggravates me that he doesn’t want to put more effort into the originality of his movies. Sure he doesn’t really need to. The guy will make money as long as he keeps doing what he’s doing. He gets butts in the seats! Plain and simple.
Another thing is that Adam Sandler and his cohorts, such as Kevin James and Rob Schneider for example, have been type-casted and don’t often get picked to really play any diverse roles in these movies. We just kind of expect them to be the idiot mall cop or the Mexican guy or the idiot mall cop Mexican guy (coming soon to a theater near you, Idiot Mall Cop Mexican Guy)
We as human beings have grown since the times of ’90s Sandler movies’ and so has our taste in humor. This is why teenagers and the youngins found hilarity in the early Sandler flicks. We have grown but Sandler has remained stagnant. Because of the fact that there is no dynamic in the humor, this can get tiring to some people who have grown up watching Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Eight Crazy Nights, etc. At one point in time these movies may have not been considered bad. But the message here is that making the same type of movies repetitively infers laziness and greediness among whoever is making them. Why else would someone effortlessly make the same thing over and over again other than to make easy money? People still go to watch these movies and that’s fine. And a lot of people don’t really care what they’re watching! It’s just something to look at for two hours and it’s a Tuesday afternoon so what else is there to do? Hey, the new Adam Sandler movie is out! How about we enjoy some good old chuckles together and wish and complain that WE were enjoying the vacation along with Adam himself! It’s almost like eye candy sometimes. But when you read between the lines it’s so clear to see what he’s doing (or barely doing for that matter.) However, people who enjoy the art of film want something different from this guy. Punch Drunk Love is a great example of this. He’s got so much potential and Paul Thomas Anderson really unlocked some of that potential! It’s wasted talent, it really is. Anyways, it’s simply not enjoyable watching the same guy make the same type of jokes in every movie he is in. I’ll go into detail about the nature and simplicity of jokes used by Sandler later on.
So I’m not going to go into detail about what the story is about because truthfully it’s not very important. It’s not a very complicated plot to follow although I will explain some minor things in the plot that don’t make sense to me. So I recommend you watch the movie before continuing on with this review.
So in case you were wondering, it all unfolds the way you would expect any Sandler flick to do so. Clunky exposition, an outrageous call to action, uninteresting romantic sub-plots, an emotional moment that attempts to reach the audience and tug on their heart strings a bit, an exaggerated overcoming moment, and then it all ends with a cliché, uber convenient conclusion.
Like I said before, one major criticism I have are Adam Sandler jokes…and I use the term ‘jokes’ very loosely. How come in literally EVERY Sandler movie, he will say something outlandish or weird or misleading and then it’s all followed up by a “NAH, IM JUST KIDDIN.”? …That is like the LEAST intelligent humor anyone could ever come up with. A fun drinking game would be to take a shot every time someone in the movie does this. Saying something then immediately contradicting the truth of what you just said IS NOT humor. A five year old can come up with the same “jokes” as Adam Sandler and it’s just embarrassing. That to me has to be one of the cringiest parts of these movies. It’s in all of his movies, it’s in Pixels, The Ridiculous 6, Big Daddy and I guess you can call it a ‘Sandlerism’ by now instead of a ‘joke’. You know what. Adam Sandler has trademarked this gag. It’s his. He owns it. I should probably pay him royalties for simply talking about it.
This movie though, is filled with this shit. I lost count how many times it happens but it really is his main source of comedy. I feel like these Sandlerisms can be a metaphor for how much effort he puts into making these movies.
Pssst! Not very much in case you were wondering
At this point Netflix is just funding Adam Sandler’s vacations. There are truly no other motives behind these movies other than that. And I don’t know maybe I’m just biased for having a stigma against a director’s unbalanced ratio between creativity and the amount of money put into their pockets *COUGH* MICHAEL BAY. *COUGH* GEORGE LUCAS.
But I digress. Talking about the humor in the movie again, before I explain this scene to you, I hope you’re able to fully empathize with me, how weird I thought this one scene in the movie was. To sum it up concisely, there is literally one scene that is ENTIRELY pointless and for which the only purpose of its existence is to set up a horrible joke for the next scene no more than five minutes later. Everything read after this sentence is best read as if you were reading a creepypasta on the Internet. Okay. So Max goes to an auto shop to pick up some supplies. A man by the name of ‘Lou’, who is an upper middle aged gray-haired man with a Justin Bieber bowl cut hairstyle, gives a depressing monologue about how his ex-wife is at a Slipknot concert and sleeps with bartenders. Adam Sandler rudely ignores this man’s cry for compassion and asks for a vise. But here’s the thing. Adam Sandler forgets the tool he is looking for is called a ‘vise’ and tries to recall the name of said tool. “Yeah the thing that Joe Pesci used in Casino to crush the guy’s head.”
So as he attempts to describe the tool he is looking for, the random, completely unimportant divorced cashier’s daughter says, “You mean a vise?” in the most unnecessarily nasty, snarky tone ever. Meanwhile, you can hear the ambience of the central cooling system droning throughout the store. You can’t feel the air but somehow you still know that it’s quite frigid in this auto shop. Generic, country-themed muzak plays in the background as well to add to the heart pounding anxiety this store artificially produces. It seems as if all the characters on the screen are going to turn their heads to the camera, jump out, and violently torture and kill me. Nightmarish value has unknowingly been applied to this scene and I am horrified at the thought of this happening. This is when the unimportant cashier somberly explains that they don’t have that type of tool in an auto shop. This is when the other daughter of the irrelevant cashier exclaims, “Maybe you should try the hardware store.” CUT. And that’s the end of the scene.
I swear to God watching that scene felt like some sort of bizarre fever dream to me. I feel like both of these girls are going to be in my nightmares tonight. So anyways, you would think the next scene clears up the weirdness of it all. Oh how wrong you are. So we then see Max break into the father of Heather’s house, and tortures him but wait…this is the best part! The payoff for the joke is finally here! As he is about to put his head in the tool he acquired off screen, HE FORGETS THE NAME OF THE TOOL AGAIN!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. “WHY DO I ALWAYS FORGET THE NAME OF THE DAMN THING?” ADAM CRIES.
GEE IM SURE GLAD I WAITED THAT ONE OUT…
I just don’t get it…is ‘vise’ such a hard word to remember in general? Or is this some sort of inside joke he has with himself that no one else would understand. In no way, does this scene provide a payoff for the bizarre fever dream of a scene right before it. There was nothing memorable about the scene in the auto shop other than to provide a base for the terrible joke that was to be set up right afterwards…and I can’t even call it a joke. I really don’t know what to call it actually. It was just a thing that happened and I don’t know why. It just blows my mind that an entire scene was dedicated in order to do a joke about a vise and how forgettable the word can be. Maybe it’s hilarious in some strange, ambiguous, hipstery “adult swim” type of context. But this isn’t adult swim. It’s fucking Adam Sandler in his own feature film The Do-Over.
And I don’t get it.
One thing Sandler has often been accused for is his shameless and excessive use of product placement. I have to say there isn’t as much in here as some of his other movies. But that’s not without saying it’s quite noticeable. There were several different American beer company logos flagrantly shown with the label facing us, center of the damn shot, borderline distracting thrown in your face all at once. The first 30 minutes of the movie are essentially a beer commercial. There’s literally product placement WITHIN product placement. At the end of the second scene where Max and Charlie are talking, Charlie sets down his Corona on a desk in a close-up shot as the camera zooms out as it turns out to be a desktop wallpaper with a tropical beach in the background of it all within an ACER computer monitor at Charlie’s work desk. To be completely honest, that was a pretty clever and neat transition. And I mean that with 90% sincerity. Not only does it combine two products in one to subconsciously alter the audience’s minds it also sends an underlying, deeper metaphorical message to the audience. What Charlie truly wants is restricted and unattainable because of him staying at home and attempting to maintain his life of working at a dead end job of being the manager of a non-independently owned bank within a grocery store. Maybe I’m giving Sandler too much credit for this one. Don’t get me wrong, product placement is not a terrible thing. It’s just frowned upon when it is executed in such a non-subtle manner. Just another generic Sandlerism I had to mention.
Why is Max’s high school nickname Maxi-Pad? This was never explained. He also seems proud of it and even writes it on his name tag. It’s just so odd. “Let Maxi-Pad soak up your pain,” he says. I feel like I’m just watching Adam Sandler have a conversation. NOT the character he’s representing. He’s just a cool and ‘action-packed’ Adam Sandler who gives unclever witty remarks after doing something outrageous. Only characters like James Bond and John McClane can get away with things like that.
This next part is a bit of biased criticism but this is just one of the few things that aggravated me. This has to do with how Nick Swardson was introduced. He was presented to us as this gruff brute assumed to be either some sort of bad guy or a government agent. He has no dialogue until well after halfway through the movie until Sandler hits his car and flips it over. And during an interrogation he reveals he is an American Express representative trying to inform Max of his debt issues. Although, you would think him being a harmless American Express agent is true since he’s kind of pathetic and passive getting injured all the time…but no that would make too much sense. It turns out he really IS an FBI agent which is revealed at the end and has to take Charlie and Max to jail. So if he already tracked them down and knows their real identities…isn’t that proof enough to just arrest them before all this? Well I guess not because then the movie couldn’t continue. But it doesn’t even fucking matter because they found the cure for cancer so THAT is the trump card that got Charlie and Max out of jail…Yeah. That’s literally the reason that is explained in the movie why they weren’t jailed for identity fraud. I’m no law major but I’m pretty sure it’s not that fucking simple.
But I digress. This is NOT how you introduce Mr. Swardson. He definitely deserves more entertaining and comedic dialogue rather than getting hit by a car three times. Which I thought was funny at the time because it was a slap-stick repetition gag. And in my mind I got what was going on and maybe that was me being optimistic, maybe that was me giving this movie the benefit of the doubt. But that was one of the few things that made me smile in this movie. So it wasn’t all that bad.
The pain he’s feeling writhing on the ground after getting hit by the car numerous times probably represents the mental pain he is going through for being in an Adam Sandler film. And I don’t know what it is with this movie but hitting people with cars seems to happen a lot. Even when they are trying to do something positive and get the attention of Heather, as portrayed by Paula Patton whom is the wife of the dead man, Ronald, the guy that Charlie took the identity of, Max thinks the best way to get her attention is to hit her with a Winnebago. So he speeds up and side swipes her as she is jogging… Are you fucking crazy!? It’s just such a weird and maniacal way of doing things. It’s unorthodox and not relatable at all. It’s just not something a human being would ever do. And all she gets is a bruise on her leg. And then not too long after that, she is sprinting around the house and kicking Adam Sandler in the balls.
The excuse for Max being “Action Fucking Jackson” is that he was a trainee at the police academy. The reason he didn’t get in: He couldn’t pop a wheelie on a motorcycle. Am I missing something here? Is that a literal requirement? Does this ensure your loyalty to the police force if you can perform a useless trick on a motorcycle? HUH??
And just because you tried out let alone failed to join a police academy doesn’t give you the ability to take on trained assassins. Max also mentions he failed the psychological test as well. This is probably used as a reason to excuse Max’s insane and irrational decisions throughout the movie. It’s a bullshit excuse because besides a couple dangerous decisions he makes, Max does have the ability to coherently think and behave as a normal person would. It’s literally just “explained” to give reason to why he hits a woman with the Winnebago or why he shoots a goddamn flair at women on a boat after laughing at Charlie’s miniscule dick size. ADAM SANDLER STOP PICKING ON WOMEN YOU SEXIST PIG. HOW DARE YOU. NOW I’M TRIGGERED!! Yeah, it’s stupid that he performs potential fatality-inducing things to other people and doesn’t give a fuck. But the fact that they tried to excuse it by saying he failed a test is such bullshit.
So you have Luiz Guzman who of course plays the eccentric, metrosexual mobile bartender in a club. His role may or may not have been reminiscent of his role in Boogie Nights, one of my favorite movies. Which is an action comedy DONE RIGHT. I really think it would have been better if Guzman switched roles with Swardson though. In my opinion it would have been funnier to see Guzman getting injured over and over and be the weak guy. And it would have been funnier to give Swardson funny dialogue as the club bartender doing dances and then saying weird shit during the threesome. Swardson is just so good at being eccentric and questionably gay. It’s just how his voice sounds sometimes I guess. His mannerisms are funnier in my opinion. At least both these characters neither really hurt nor enhance the film in any way. You just kind of expect Guzman for example to be there and drip ball sweat on David Spade’s face. Then his act is over and he gets his paycheck. Yay! That’s just what Luiz Guzman does best. He’s just the gross, fat, hypersexual, token Spaniard dude in every movie. Go and watch Waiting if you haven’t and you won’t disagree.
I noticed a couple editing issues that could have easily been fixed. For example there’s a shot with David Spade in focus over the shoulder of Paula Patton. Spade finishes his dialogue and then you begin to see Paula’s mouth move for a split second until the shot switches to a close-up of her. Whatever it’s just not a good match cut. Hardly noticeable. But still should be mentioned.
The cinematography in this movie is not in any way, shape, or form sophisticated at all. But it’s not like it needs to be. “Not complicated, but competent.” And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Gets the job done.
Another thing Sandler is famous for is attempting to tug on the heartstrings of viewers. I have to say Sandler is pretty good at doing this. Click, Big Daddy, Punch Drunk Love, all have made me cry in the past I’m not going to lie. Although, Punch Drunk Love is definitely Sandler’s best work and he owes that to Paul Thomas Anderson who is a fantastic director and can make any actor look good. However in this movie, I just genuinely don’t care about Adam Sandler’s character. He’s not Max to me. It’s just Sandler saying and doing stuff. At least in The Ridiculous 6 it felt like he was trying to portray a serious and edgy character aside from his innate personality. So when I found out “Maxi-Pad” had cancer, I didn’t give a single fuck.
Why is Jenga the ultimate password for the cancer formula? Well if it is that’s fine…but I mean Max mentions it once while fiddling around on the tablet they acquired from the Butch’s security deposit box during the beginning…and that’s it. We see it for one second. How would Charlie even remember something Max murmured at the beginning of the movie? Not even a memorable joke was made about the game or anything for the audience to remember about it. Then his wife just mentions Ronald and Butch were doing something suspicious at the clinic and heard them say that they were playing ‘Jenga’. Almost sounds too convenient, doesn’t it? Then when Charlie has an epiphany about what the final piece of the puzzle is we see him pull out the tablet and click on the Jenga app. And then audience goes “Oh that random app Max looked at in the beginning of the movie!? That was never really touched upon but I’ll just accept it for the sake of my head imploding in on itself!”
A slow motion fight scene ensues at the end between Max’s wife (who it takes the whole damn movie to finally meet) who is Adam Sandler’s wife irl btw, Jackie Sandler. All while some 2004 Madonna song is being played. And yes. It’s as stupid as it sounds. There are crotch shots even though they’re women, they tumble down some stairs, and Spade and Sandler smoke a joint while laughing and watching. And it’s just so dumb…and egregious…and expected. The damn trailer for the movie is a slow motion quirky action sequence like this one. How can you not expect something like this? It’s just so lame and such an overused gimmick.
So much country music used in this movie. Kill me.
And there’s my stream of consciousness review of the feature film The Do-Over.