Making the Grades
If playing in a Happy Madison movie is on their bucket lists, then a whole lot of people get a chance to check that one off after the release of Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill.
Among the celebrities making an appearance are Johnny Depp, Shaquille O’Neal, Drew Carrey, Christie Brinkley, Regis Philbin, David Spade, John McEnroe, Billy Blanks, Bruce Jenner, Michael Irvin, Subway spokesman Jared Fogle and Sham-Wow hawker Vince Offer.
Even tough guy Al Pacino does a song and dance routine.
And all are assembled to play supporting roles to Sandler’s character Jack Sadelstein, an L.A. ad executive with a beautiful house, beautiful wife (Katie Holmes) and two beautiful children, Sophia (Elodie Tougne) and a precocious adopted child with a relish for tape named Gary (Rohan Chand). Jack has come a long way from his modest roots in a Bronx neighborhood.
Meanwhile at work, he is under pressure from the marketing department at Dunkin’ Donuts (one of at least a dozen blatant product placements) who want Al Pacino to be the face in their new ad campaign. But getting a method actor to peddle pastries isn’t Jack’s only anxiety this Thanksgiving season. His twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler) is flying in from New York for the holiday. Considering the pair’s past track record, Jack anticipates four days of miserable family time. And he’s right.
Even before the potatoes get passed around the dinner table, Jill verbally attacks the family’s homeless guest, confronts Jack’s mother-in-law about seating arrangements and questions her brother’s ability to bond with his son. Within moments the festivities dissolve into tears and tantrums as old sibling rivalries resurface.
The filmmakers don’t miss a beat when it comes to playing these up or poking fun at personalities and pop culture. (Watch for a display of McEnroe’s infamous temper, a nod to Katie Holmes’ religious conversion and a dig at the Oscar committee for Al Pacino’s single win.) Few if anyone—atheists, athletes, Al Qaeda and aging actors alike—are safe in this script.
Unfortunately audiences aren’t safe either from the onslaught of crude flatulent jokes and sexual gags including a men’s bathroom attendant who manhandles a cross dresser’s fake female chest and another man who peeks under the skirt of the homely and lovelorn Jill to confirm she is a woman.
Yet despite the crude content found in this film, the moviemakers manage to force in a sentimental ending. Finally the successful businessman recognizes the sacrifices his sister has made to care for their aging and now deceased parents, and admits to the shared bond between the former womb mates. It’s sweet. It’s sappy. It’s a little hard to swallow.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Jack and Jill.
How can family ties grow as siblings become adults? Is it important to be able to put the past behind in some circumstances? What are the advantages of a healthy adult relationship between brothers and sisters?
In this movie Jill is the caregiver for the pair’s parents. What different roles do children play in a family? How can they support one another in those different responsibilities? Who are the caregivers in your family? What tasks do you take on?