The Do-Over (2016)

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“You want people to remember you – maybe get a personality, right?”

The latest from Adam Sandler’s mind-boggling 4 picture deal with Netflix wants to take us on a jog down memory lane. Borrowing Bond’s 1967 motto You Only Live Twice, similarly plotted to 73’s The Sting, performed like 84’s Beverly Hills Cop. It’s all recognizable, usually even on the nose during one of the many bouts of exposition. So what exactly makes this film so lousy? I’m still wondering. To be a comedy means attempts at jokes must be present. There are few. To fit an action billing suggests some thrills and set pieces. Only two come to mind. The Do-Over shouldn’t be hated for the tiresome and oftentimes sexist material alone; it should be loathed because it doesn’t care enough about anything at all. Then again, can a film with a monotone David Spade voice-over ever be interesting?

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Nobody likes a high school reunion, especially not the guys at the 25 year gathering who are still outcasts. Charlie (Spade) works at the same bank located in the same local grocery store. Married to a floozy wife, raising her obnoxious twins, driving the same car a quarter of a century later. He bumps into Max (Sandler), known in his prime as “Maxi-pad,” now telling his old pal he’s a member of the FBI. The two leave the party and reminisce over drinks and laughs. It repeats this mistake constantly, focusing on the schlubs first rather than setting the scene for them to enter afterwards. We know they’ll get in over their heads with a stupid scheme because those are the only kinds of situations stupid people can think up. But that doesn’t mean it has to be so damn dull. The Do-Over can’t even get “stupid is as stupid does” right.

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On paper the movie seems destined for the kind of entertainment you’d have found from a fun-loving but crappy VHS lining the walls of a Blockbuster. Most would label them as a guilty pleasure (a term that nauseates me). In reality, those films are the kind that manage to make their flaws charming and appealing through self-awareness or whimsy. That at least takes some skill to pull off. The Do-Over could have all the chances and opportunities in the world to match that subpar bar and the creative team would still find a way to somehow sabotage it all. Why care about these strangers getting involved in lives of crime? Why worry if they make it out alive? We direct questions to the cast on stage through a microphone that has been turned off, just so the menfolk can point fingers, slap hands, and say “what an idiot!”

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When did Adam Sandler movies become so predictably bad? And when did they become associated with cruel, homophobic, outright sexist jokes? He’s not the writer on this one, but he still says the words and that’s pathetic enough. Suggesting a recent widow (Paula Patton, whose talent is wasted), “needs a nice d*** to cry on.” Punchlines involving his mother’s waist level breasts. None of it is funny. At this point he might just jump off a bridge if you asked him to, more like an animatronic appeaser than the brilliant comedian he used to be. I’ll still watch Sandler movies, holding out hope and crossing my fingers that he won’t continue leading us into this self-indulgent and tumultuous turnstile. Either way, everyone involved with his Happy Madison production house have all officially lost the benefit of the doubt.

“This is too much.”

Rating: 0.5 out of 5

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