At this point in his career, it would be foolish to expect any form of effort from Adam Sandler and his movies. With his four-picture deal with Netflix, Sandler no longer has to concern himself with critical reception or box office receipts. He’s now free to just churn out whatever half-baked schlock he pleases. Though not as aggressively awful The Ridiculous 6, Sandler’s latest work finds the apathetic comedian returning to his pattern of making movies that masquerade as vacations for him and his friends with The Do-Over, a sub-sophomoric action comedy that peddles in casual misogyny and homophobia without the simple benefits of actual comedy. But hey, we’d be foolish to expect anything else.
Charlie McMillan (David Spade) is sad sack loser who hasn’t done much with his life. He’s married to his high school crush (Natasha Leggero), a greedy and selfish alcoholic who flaunts her cheating ways. Charlie manages a bank branch inside a local supermarket while still driving the same car he did in high school, even going as far as to live in the same house his parents did. At a high school reunion, Charlie reacquaints himself with his childhood friend Max Kessler (Sandler), who claims to be an FBI agent. After drunkenly claiming that he wishes he could start over, Charlie is shocked to learn that Max fakes their deaths and the two take over the identities of two recently deceased men. A safety deposit box key takes them to Puerto Rico where they find stacks of cash and a lovely beach-side mansion. Their good times don’t last as shadowy figures emerge and try to kill Max and Charlie, forcing them to travel to Georgia to find Heather (Paula Patton), the widow of one of the men whose identities they’ve assumed. Slowly they unravel this vast conspiracy that they’ve stumbled into, one that is linked to a new form of advanced cancer research.
The Do-Over is an incredibly mean-spirited farce, one that pretty much has active contempt for anyone that is outside the mold of the straight white male leads. This ugliness rears its head in the form of the woefully underwritten women characters, all of whom are either selfish skanks or merely sex objects (sometimes both). Sandler and Spade ride a yacht of the shore of Florida and implore a boatful of women to expose their breasts. When they do and ask the men to reciprocate, they laugh when Spade drops his drawers. This prompts Sandler to fire a flare gun at them. Then there’s the neighbor in Puerto Rico who quickly acquiesces into a repellent threesome with Spade and local bartender (played by Luis Guzman), a scene which tries to mine the situation for humor through Spade’s gay panic.
That gay panic extends further and further throughout the film. There’s a gruff biker, who is also a confidant and lover of one of the dead men whose identities they’ve assumed, that hits on Sandler and even tries to kiss him, but Sandler is able to escape this sticky situation by fellating the man’s fingers. Later, when Sandler is being tortured with the possibility of objects being inserted in his rectum, the actor taunts his assailant by questioning his sexuality. It’s just the icing on the cake of this film’s unsettling and unfunny obsession with homosexuality. Like so much Sandler’s shtick, this all feels like it’s stuck in the worst aspects of the ‘80s.
Even the leading women of The Do-Over feel astoundingly regressive in every available aspect. Max is followed everywhere by his ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn). She’s just a ball of emotions, wildly clinging in one moment and a ball of fury in the next. Meanwhile, Paula Patton’s Heather just welcomes two doofuses who have committed identity theft in her home before eventually sleeping with Spade. A twist does accompany these revelations, one where Patton tells Sandler, “I would’ve rather fucked you.” Later on in Steven Brill’s film there is an attempt to subvert one its more regressive characters only to quickly revert her right back into crazy, possessive woman mode. The abhorrent rage towards women really comes to head when Spade’s character is punching a woman and proclaiming, “I’m so tired of women lying to me and fucking me over!” Lines like that make me wonder if screenwriters Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas are avid internet commenters.
Our two moronic heroes have unearthed a vast conspiracy where the forces of Big Chemo are suppressing a new cancer treatment because chemotherapy is worth trillions and this new research will only yield billions. It’s the kind of nonsensical medical conspiracies that one might find on InfoWars or Natural News. You know, bullshit.
Had The Do-Over lacked in its more regressive elements, it’d still be an abysmal comedy. When you know the punchline midway through a joke it’s impossible for it be funny. Now do that over and over during the course of 100 minutes and you have nothing but pure tedium. Some of the attempts of humor seem like they pulled straight out of a humor book found at your local Goodwill. The few gags that seem that they might’ve been improvised are just lacking in any and all wit, right down to joke about a tall assassin being “the Yao Ming of Nazis,” referencing the NBA player who retired five years ago.
The Do-Over is another one of Adam Sandler’s vacations in front of the cameras. Sandler and David Spade enjoy the sunny shores of Florida and Puerto Rico with a brief sojourn to Georgia, likely to take advantage of tax incentives. The Do-Over may not be among Adam Sandler’s most punishing films to sit through, but it’s certainly nothing resembling a good movie. There’s an ugly rage of entitlement on display in the lead characters, and the blend of action and comedy falls short on both ends. As long as someone is willing to foot the bill for Sandler to dip his feet in the water and lie on sandy beaches with a cold beer (Corona or Bud Light depending on the product placement at any given scene), the apathetic attempts at humor will continue. Maybe Sandler already faked his death years ago. That would go a long way in explain his persistent lifeless presence.
- Overall Score
Another one of Adam Sandler’s vacation in front of cameras, The Do-Over lacks in comedy and peddles in numerous regressive tropes in this latest Netflix misfire.