For some reason, I like Adam Sandler. Even though his movies are atrocious. For every funny scene, there are three times as many that just don’t work. Despite his efforts to appeal to the shortest of attention spans, his movies are usually ironic culprits of the worst crime any film can commit. They’re boring.
Still, I like him. Maybe I’m biased by my fond memories of 90s Saturday Night Live or the first time I saw Happy Gilmore. Or maybe he just seems like a nice guy. Everyone around him seems to be having so much fun. And as juvenile and offensive as his humour can sometimes be, that classic Sandler grin can’t help but make us feel like he means us no harm. Besides, he’s a funny guy who throws so much at you that some of it is bound to stick. I don’t think there’s a single Adam Sandler movie that hasn’t made me laugh out loud at least a few times.
Until now. This week I watched Sandler’s Netflix Original The Ridiculous 6, which has to be a new low for him both as an actor and as a writer. Sandler, Rob Schneider, Taylor Lautner, Jorge Garcia, Luke Wilson, and Terry Crews all play brothers from other mothers who Sandler meets one by one while on a mission to rescue their father from a gang of thieves. They’re a ridiculously diverse group of brothers; Sandler was adopted and raised by Native Americans so naturally knows how to do all kinds of mystical shit, Schneider is half-Mexican with a horse that sprays you with shit to let you know that it likes you, Lautner is a simple-minded redneck with a missing tooth, Garcia doesn’t speak English and is good at strangling people, Wilson was Abe Lincoln’s bodyguard, and Crews is a piano-playing black guy and of course has a huge penis.
So, obviously it all feels dated, desperately banking on the hope that the stereotypes from Adam’s SNL days are still funny 20 years later. The injustices suffered by First Nations people have been a hot and controversial topic in Canada lately, making Sandler’s performance and the film’s depiction of the culture in general just seem wrong. I believe that a gifted comedian can get away with joking about almost anything but firmly believe that, if you’re going to take on such a sensitive subject, you’d better make damn sure at the very least that you’re funny. There’s nothing funny going on here.
Thank God we’ve got Taylor Lautner. Sandler going Native was a bad idea but he can’t help being at least a little likeable and, thanks to Lautner, he does not come close to giving the worst performance of The Ridiculous 6. Lautner’s hillbilly feels less offensive since southern white guys have been fair game for so long now but rarely have they been portrayed by an actor with so little charisma and sense of comic timing. It’s hard to watch him without wondering how no one close to him was ever able to talk him out of this.
If you still want to watch it, the good news is that The Ridiculous 6 is not all bad. While it never made me laugh, I might have managed a chuckle or too had I not been so irritated by the rest of the movie. John Turturro’s cameo featuring an early version of baseball nearly got a “nice job with that” from me and the usual cast of Sandler cameos show up as real-life historical figures occasionally made me smile despite myself. I hate to name specific actors or characters here because I wouldn’t want to spoil what little fun this movie has to offer.