By: Hawk Ripjaw (Six Pack) –
On a warm, Friday morning, I awoke to the sound of birding singing over dew-kissed grass as the sun peeked cheerfully over the roofs of the neighborhood. It was beautiful, but doomed to be short-lived.
Let me tell you about the kind of movie The Do-Over is. It’s the kind of movie where Adam Sandler’s character is first introduced, both verbally and by nametag, as “Maxi-Pad.”
It’s the kind of movie where “Bud Light Party Ball” actually gets a specific name-drop.
It’s the kind of movie where there’s a threesome in which the two men on either end of the woman actually carry on a conversation and the woman doesn’t get a line (or even an appearance) until several minutes into the scene.
It’s the kind of movie where Adam Sandler gives a biker a “Mental image to enjoy yourself with later” by sucking on his own finger, and then sucking on the biker’s finger.
The Do-Over opens with Charlie (David Spade) at a high school reunion, looking exhausted and dejected as he watches his wife dance with her ex-boyfriend. Given how ground-down Spade has appeared in his last 2-3 movies, you could be fooled into thinking he’s merely been thinking about the projects given to him lately. He’s suddenly approached by Max (Adam Sandler), and the two quickly reconnect. Spade is still working at the same place he was in high school–at the bank inside the supermarket–although he’s now the branch manager.
Charlie’s miserable, and jumps at the chance to spend a weekend on Max’s boat—until he wakes up in a hotel room tied to the bed, and Max telling him that he faked both of their deaths and are now assuming the identities of two men from Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, Max happened to pick two of the most wanted men in the country, who also happen to be under attack from an acrobatic German assassin because one of the deceased held a formula for the cure for cancer. Even in the midst of being hunted down, the pair manage to befriend the widowed Heather (Paula Patton). It doesn’t make much more sense in the movie.
Well, it’s technically it’s better than The Ridiculous 6. Contrary to that dire trainwreck, The Do-Over, which was actually not written by Sandler, has a coherent plot instead of a series of vignettes.
For a movie dubbed a comedy, it’s really surprising how little comedy there actually is here. While it wasn’t written by Sandler, it was written by Kevin Barnett (Hall Pass, The Heartbreak Kid) and Chris Pappas (a TV show called Unhitched which weirdly has the joke cadence of wanting to include a laugh track, yet apparently lacks one). It’s not clear whether it tries and fails to execute more intelligent dialogue-based humor, or would just prefer to kinda be a buddy adventure with some instances of comedy. It could be a comedic drama, it could be a black comedy, or it could be a slapstick. It doesn’t do any of them well, and as a result just comes across as kind of inept.
When it does make an attempt at humor, it goes for all of the unfunny, lowest-hanging fruit: homophobia, misogyny, dementia, rape, and sweaty testicles dripping onto someone’s face. They’re all of the hallmarks of a Happy Madison production, but much like Sandler himself, feel less like immature easy humor and more like bitter, mean-spirited jabs (which isn’t really surprising given that The Heartbreak Kid is one of the most vile, angry movies ever made). You’d have thought we’d have graduated from this level of juvenile humor (shit, even Family Guy has even gone for some more clever subtext lately), but The Do-Over effectively creates a window ten years into the past, where being gay was still silly and weird and the perfect butt of a joke.
Steven Brill, whose directing credits include Little Nicky, Without a Paddle, & Drillbit Taylor, brings a curiously ineffective look to The Do-Over. When scenes don’t lack continuity, they’re blocked unimaginatively or are framed in such a way that visual gags or even expository shots are neutered. The movie almost actively avoids its own visual language, and with a film in which physical comedy and visual humor can go the extra mile to make the humor effective, there’s a huge amount of potential comedy that gets squandered.
The friendship between these two “friends” is less convincing than the potential landlord that I backed out on and who eventually started texting me nonstop with such things as “we can hang out and get some girls” to try to get me to rent his house. While it’s known that Spade and Sandler have been friends for years, the writing and chemistry doesn’t sell it. While Sandler appears to be having a little bit of fun here, it’s more Spade that kills it, looking as frustrated and dejected as ever. There’s really not anything to suggest, or even necessitate, that these two be longtime friends. It’s just another thread that’s undeveloped beyond an idea.
It’s become a running joke that Sandler’s comedies are partially-veiled reasons for the actor and his friends to take a vacation in some new, exotic locale. Given that almost the entire first act is devoted to Sandler and Spade partying either on a boat or in Puerto Rico, this trend holds true for The Do-Over, which weirdly benefits the actors in that they genuinely look frustrated when they have to put down the Bud Lights and Coronas and drive the plot forward. This may be one of the most egregious Sandler vacation movies, as that first act does almost nothing to service the plot or characters that couldn’t have been accomplished in one or two lines.
I have now seen both of Adam Sandler’s Netflix original films. I didn’t like either of them, and I didn’t expect to, either. I watched the Ridiculous 6, I think, on a dare from fellow MovieBoozer Bill Leon. I actually volunteered to review The Do-Over. I don’t know if it was morbid curiosity or a continuing unexplained addiction to making myself miserable, but either way, I remain a part of the problem. I have contributed views to the record-breaking films, and enable them to keep happening.
The birds aren’t singing anymore.
The Do-Over (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Max is telling a lie.
Do a Shot: each time Max shows someone a picture of a dead body.
Take a Drink: for every instance of product placement.
Do a Shot: if that product placement is accompanied by a verbal mention.
Take a Drink: each time a joke is recycled.