by Patrick Bromley
Slow West, Bone Tomahawk, The Revenant and hopefully the upcoming Hateful Eight. Leave it to Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison garbage factory to spray donkey poo across all of them.
I'm conflicted about The Ridiculous 6, the first Netflix original film in a four-film production deal between Happy Madison and the streaming service. On the one hand, I want to support the idea of alternate distribution models and Netflix premiering original content that isn't just TV series (even though I've enjoyed many of their original series). When a high profile megastar like Adam Sandler essentially endorses the platform to produce and distribute his latest comedy, it bodes well for it becoming a viable outlet for other artists to bypass "conventional" distribution (and all the nonsense that comes with it) and hopefully get their work in front of larger audiences. On the other hand, the fact that Sandler is premiering his latest movie on Netflix gives me hope that his career of making lazy, unfunny comedies is coming to an end and that the well has dried up. Theatrical audiences have grown wise to him, and the diminishing box office returns of his last few movies suggest that maybe they've been burned one too many times by the shit he turns regularly turns out. So as much as I want The Ridiculous 6 to signal a new wave of creating original films, I also want it to be the death knell of Adam Sandler's career making the worst mainstream comedies of every given year. And I don't think the movie can be both things.
Here's the real kicker, too: The Ridiculous 6 is far from the worst movie Sandler has made. It's undeniably bad -- racist, misogynistic, lazy and stupid -- but sometimes in lesser degrees than the usual Happy Madison output. It attempts to tell a story, and the fact that it's a western gives a sense of scope missing from Sandler's usual paid hangouts and vacations. Director Frank Coraci, who previously helmed the Sandler vehicles The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Click and Blended, seems to actually be trying to make a movie. He has made a bad movie, but at least there is the appearance of effort on his part. Would that the same could be said for Sandler.
If you haven't already guessed, the cast for this movie is packed top to bottom with familiar faces. In addition to those already mentioned, there's Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz, Steve Zahn, Will Forte, Nick Swardson, Norm MacDonald, Whitney Cummings, Chris Parnell...the list goes on. Not one of them is particularly funny, which is a problem in a comedy. Each is given one character trait -- sometimes less than that -- which is then repeated as the punchline for his (I would say "or her," but this is a movie almost entirely devoid of females...more on that in a moment) every scene. Taylor Lautner is stupid and apparently has three nipples, so all of his "funny" lines end with a reference to a third nipple. Terry Crews' character mentions that he can play piano with his dick, so that gets repeated a bunch. Rob Schneider travels with a burro, his every scene ending with a reference to his burro. Oh, and the burro has explosive diarrhea, so several characters in the film wind up getting shit sprayed all over them. I know how they feel.
As for Sandler himself, he seems almost openly miserable. His performances have defined lazy in his last few films (again, I'm referring specifically to the comedies produced through Happy Madison), in which he stands around his various mansions in jerseys and sweatpants and laughs at anyone who's different from him. Here, though, he doesn't even appear to be in on any kind of joke. Aside from a bit of physical comedy early on reminiscent of You Don't Mess With the Zohan, Sandler mostly just scowls through the movie. I'd be unhappy, too, if I was stuck in a movie this lousy. But as co-writer, he only has himself to blame for the material he appears to resent.
Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser is still a thing.