Not being an Adam Sandler fan, expectations for “The Do-Over” were not high (basement level would be an adequate description) and his latest offering did not disappoint. The mid-life crisis buddy movie was not horrible but neither was it very good. The best thing that can be said of Sandler’s most recent attempt at comedy is that it was marginally better than “The Ridiculous 6.”
Co-written by Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas and directed by Steven Brill (who can direct a funny film as evidenced with the 2004 comedy “Without a Paddle”) “The Do-Over” is a buddy picture that manages to change direction so often that it almost slips unnoticed into a hidden subplot about a cure for cancer.
Charlie (David Spade) is at his high school reunion watching his wife dirty dancing with her ex-husband on the dance floor. In the middle of this uncomfortable moment he bumps into Max (Adam Sandler). The two childhood buddies take time to catch up and Max reveals that he is in the FBI.
Later he invites Charlie to party on his boat and the two men have a blast. The boat explodes and Max tells Charlie that they are officially dead. The two men take on the identities of a couple of murdered men that Max says he just found. They find money and a mansion in Puerto Rico where they move.
After a few identity changes, on Max’s part, and an attack by a small group of assassins, Max and Charlie (now Butch and Ron) try to learn why the real Butch and Ron were murdered and try to keep one step ahead of the killers.
One does have to admire Sandler for leaving his “Happy Gilmore” and “The Water Boy” days behind him. He is trying bring fans more “50 First Dates” and “Blended” where Sandler plays more grown-up characters.
In “The Do-Over” Sandler’s character is part action man, cool dude and misogynistic douche. David Spade is the more likable of the two men. His Wilbur Milquetoast character is amusing, to a degree, but he is so malleable that it is hard to believe he ever became a bank manager.
There are chuckle worthy moments but nothing that really tickles the funny bone. Sandler’s character has a disease that is killing him and the man does really look ill. Gaunt featured with deep brackets around his mouth make Sandler look quite unwell in his second Netflix feature.
Michael Chiklis has small cameo as the cuckold neighbor who initially wants to beat Ron/Charlie with a baseball bat and who then bellows in agony after being shot, twice. Sean Astin has a cameo as the ex who turns Charlie into the cuckold with his wife. Never let it be said that Sandler will not beat a joke to death in a film.
Luis Guzmán also has a cameo as “Jorge the shooter boy” a fairly small but funny part where he is the third partner in a three-way with Charlie and the next-door neighbor’s wife.
The humor is not necessarily as juvenile as Sandler’s earlier efforts, it has at least gone past the one joke premise attempting to last the entire film (The Ridiculous 6) although his character Max still views women primarily as sexual challenges to be conquered.
(Despite the lengthy fight between two strong women later in the film, it is clear that the men watching see this as a “dry” mud wrestling match as they leer at the violence the two females inflect on one another. This is not a statement at all, just another excuse to see women fight and in absence of a beer, pass the spliff dude.)
After watching the film twice, in an effort to find more in the way of redeeming qualities, the final verdict is that this is a 3 out of 5 star film. The extra star is for the screenplay where a few twists and turns were added to the already illogical script which could be seen as a loose remake of the equally unfunny 1969 Jerry Lewis picture “Hook, Line and Sinker” (called, at time, Hook, Line and Stinker by critics).
Adam Sandler keeps doing comedy films where his characters either appear to be almost normal grownups or are capable of being complete kick-arse action men. Why? Is it because he will be 50 this year?
The man can act, he has done so with Drew Barrymore on more than one occasion. Perhaps his deal with Netflix will find him a new fanbase and allow him to break this cycle of unfunny comedy offerings. Until he manages to break free of film’s past, his current fans may well enjoy “The Do-Over.” Those who are not bowled over by Sandler may want to give it a miss.
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