By Christian DiMartino
I’m a week late in reviewing Adam Sandler’s latest disaster, The Do-Over. But it’s a Netflix movie, so does it really matter?
The world has realized now that the old, talented Sandler is gone. Dead and gone. And with that, we must also acknowledge even he has probably realized this, since his films aren’t even going to theatres anymore.
The Do-Over is just what he needs, and I’m not referring to the film itself. He’s been in the dumps for a few years now, and judging from the desperate, sad, droopy, bored look on his face throughout The Do-Over, it looks as if Sandler might be trapped in movie jail for some time. I hope that’s not the case, but it sure as hell seems like it.
This time, he plays Max (nicknamed “Maxipad.” Clever), who runs into his old friend, Charlie (David Spade) at a high school reunion. Charlie is a total loser. His wife is boning some other guy, step children hate him, boring job, blah blah blah. But he sees opportunity in Max, who seems to have his life together (evidently, he’s in the CIA). Seems.
The two become friends again, and begin hanging out. Then one morning, Charlie wakes up tied to a bed, and Max tells him that he’s faked their deaths, and both of them can begin their lives over again. But soon they realize that the identities they’ve stolen just so happen to be involved in dangerous affairs.
Sounds like it might be fun, right? Eh, to a fault. It’s entertaining I suppose. That is, until they expect us to care about the plot. It’s an Adam Sandler movie, and yet they end up taking the story seriously in the last half hour. It becomes convoluted. Ah, now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: a convoluted Adam Sandler “comedy.”
The lovely Paula Patton is wasted as the wife of one of one of the victims (oh yeah, they assumed the identities of dead people). The wickedly funny Kathryn Hahn is also wasted as Max’s girlfriend. I suppose she gets the single “laugh” here, but even that laugh feels dated. But hey, at least there’s a cat fight.
I guess the real problem plaguing The Do-Over, aside from the fact that it isn’t funny (and all those other things I mentioned above) is that Sandler just doesn’t seem interested. I once had an art teacher named Ms. Higdon- obnoxious cow, if I’ve ever seen one- and one day she said “You can’t have a defeatist attitude.” None of us knew what the hell she was talking about. But as I watched The Do-Over, and the look on Sandler’s flabby face, I think I realized just what Hig-ton meant. Sandler looks defeated.
He knows that his best years are behind him. I think what he needs is to work with a good filmmaker. He needs someone like Judd Apatow, or Paul Thomas Anderson. They’ve brought out the best in him. I hear he’s lined up for a Noah Baumbach film. Hopefully that breaks this curse. As for Spade, well, I don’t think he’s been funny since The Emperor’s New Groove.
I suppose this is better than Sandler’s last Netflix outing, The Ridiculous Six, in that I could actually finish this one. But that’s not really saying much.