This is what you would call damning with the faintest of praise, but The Do-Over, Adam Sandler's second comedy for Netflix as part of their 4-picture deal, isn't quite as awful as The Ridiculous Six. It's still pretty terrible and just as stupid, mind you, and before anyone begins to question why the streaming service entered into such a contract, 'Ridiculous Six' was one of their most-watched films ever. Chances are this one will be, too, and it would be interesting to gauge the collective IQ of those people before and after.
While utterly moronic in the way we've come to expect from Sandler flicks, The Do-Over at least starts off sensibly charming, relying on the longtime camaraderie between the actor and his pal, David Spade. Charlie (Spade) is a guy whose life hasn't changed one iota since high school. He works at the same bank located in a local grocery, he drives the same crappy car, and lives in the same house. What should be a good thing, that he's now married to his childhood crush, Nikki (Natasha Legerro) is a disaster because she's a drunken, promiscuous trainwreck with two violent kids. Everything about his life sucks, which is why he's so happy to see his best pal, Max aka "Maxi-Pad" (Sandler came up with that one, no doubt), at their high school reunion, and boy have things changed for him.
Max was always expected to be a total failure, but he grew up to be a complete badass. He works in law enforcement, he's got money, and a crazy ex-girlfriend who can't leave him alone. In Sandler's world, that last point makes him some kind of virile stud, but that's the outdated gender dynamics we see play out through the entire film. It's like somebody dragged it kicking and screaming out of the '80s. An invitation to join Max on his boat, the Fish 'n Chicks (har har har), leads to the greatest time in Charlie's miserable life. It's also the last time the film is remotely enjoyable, again relying heavily on the Sandler/Spade bromance.
The downside to Sandler's Netflix deal is that the restraints are off. In the studio system where he's expected to turn out crowd-appealing theatrical efforts, he's expected to be a clown within a reasonable narrative framework. Well forget all that nonsense. The Do-Over is Sandler doing literally anything he wants whether it makes sense or not. It turns out that Max has faked both of their deaths in order to start a new life. Ooookay...that's not so bad. It's ridiculous, but not totally out of bounds. But then you learn that Max was actually a mortician, who stole two dead bodies to aid in the ruse. Those bodies turned out to be a prominent cancer physician and the other one of the world's most wanted criminals, leading to a bunch of paid assassins (including a 7-foot-tall gymnast!??) trying to kill them.
Sandler can't help himself and keeps adding more crap on top of crap. Paula Patton cashes a paycheck as the doctor's super-hot but neglected wife, and somehow this turns into a gigantic quest to find a miracle cancer cure. None of it makes any sense, thanks to a screenplay by Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas that twists itself into knots in an attempt to tie everything together. So we alternately get a Max who is, totally out of nowhere, an action hero badass, then minutes later a completely inept buffoon when the story needs him to be.
Of course, giving Sandler ultimate freedom means he no longer has to do the family-friendly thing he had been doing recently. The Do-Over sees him indulging in all of his worst R-rated tendencies, with rampant homophobia and gratuitous, disgusting visuals, like the unsightly image of Luis Guzman's hairy balls. Or if that's not your cup of tea (And really, why would it be?) there's always the sight of an old woman's gigantic sagging boobs, a gag which is sadly teased early on and mercilessly delivered later after you long forgot about it.
Nominally the film is an action buddy comedy, but in the hands of director Steven Brill it looks like every other Sandler movie he's been at the helm of. Sandler regulars Dan Patrick and Nick Swardson show up, of course, the latter in an oft-repeated gag that should be funny to those who can't stand the actor. Kathryn Hahn, Matt Walsh, Renee Taylor, and Michael Chiklis all take on supporting roles well beneath their talents. That's nothing new because Sandler movies are always about making him shine to the detriment of everyone else.
One can only imagine where Sandler's next film will go, but chances are it will be insultingly moronic. He's done a Western and now an action comedy; so why not a sci-fi flick? Or a sports comedy like The Waterboy? Unfortunately, all of the freedom Netflix has granted him hasn't inspired Sandler to do the kind of dramatic work we've seen him be surprisingly adept at. Unfortunately, The Do-Over is probably the best of what we're likely to get out of him.
Rating: 2 out of 5