This is the first of a four film deal Adam Sandler has with Netflix. Sandler has started with a tough genre that has struggled since Blazing Saddles through failures like Wild Wild West and A Million Ways To Die In The West.
The set-up is a satire of the magnificent seven as Sandler raised by Native Americans meets his estranged father (Nick Nolte) who is subsequently kidnapped. Sandler decides to rescue the old man and teams up with Nolte’s other sons. This includes Rob Schneider playing a Mexican man with a diarrhoea prone donkey, Jorge Garcia from Lost as a babbling booze-maker, Taylor Lautner impersonating Simple Jack, piano playing Terry Crews and drunk Luke Wilson. As they all sing at one point “It’s fun to have brothers all from different mothers”.
Sandler’s last good performance in 2002’s Punch Drunk Love seems a long time ago. Its all too easy to criticise Sandler and his Happy Madison production company as all of his recent films make the same mistakes.
Is it funny enough? No.
Did I laugh? Not out loud.
Is it offensive? Yes.
Is it racially insensitive? Yes.
Is it too long? Yes.
Do the female characters have any depth? No.
Is Sandler enjoying himself? No.
Does Sandler’s performance suck any energy out of the film? Yes.
Do I enjoy answering my own questions? Yes.
And this is all coming from the point of view of someone who grew up laughing at Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer. It is more difficult to find positives regarding Sandler’s most recent offering. Sandler surrounds himself with good performers and the production line of cameos include Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel. In fact Kietel’s scene almost made me titter a little. It is not poorly made and looks good, but I am stumped to identify anymore positives apart from a bizarre turn by Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain who instructs Crews “to drop a beat” on the piano.
I am not sure what I was expecting but by the final showdown with Nolte’s kidnappers led by Danny Trejo, I was numb to what was happening on screen. I am not sure who this film is aimed at or who might like it but it is out there. In fact to quote the film itself it’s “like a real bucket of turds“.