Adam Sandler’s third movie with Netflix is the very definition of over indulgence. There’s a decent movie in here from director Steven Brill, who worked with Sandler previously on Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and The Do-Over. Sandler stars as the title character, a talent manager trying to find new clients in the ’90s. After working with low-level comedians and daredevils, Sandy finds Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), an amusement park performer with a stunning voice. Sandy takes charge of her career, and sends her on a superstar trajectory. Sandler creates one of his weirdo characterizations, with a goofy voice and strange mannerisms. While some of the ’90’s jokes involving Fruitopia, Arsenio Hall and the Atkins Diet are pretty funny, Sandler and Brill take the movie off into a strange, unlikely romance realm that destroys all of the fun. The movie is supremely overstuffed at 130 minutes, with one subplot too many involving Terry Crews as a flamboyant wrestler. His entire story arc could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Kevin James has a fairly funny supporting role as a ventriloquist who carries on regular conversations through his dummies, and Nick Swardson scores some laughs as a daredevil reminiscent of Super Dave Osborne and Evel Knievel. Hudson is good in her role, even when the character inexplicably falls for Sandy. At 90 minutes and without the love story, this one might’ve been OK. As it stands, it’s another miss for Sandler. (Streaming exclusively on Netflix.)
1 Going in StyleThis is a lousy remake of the “old guys rob a bank wearing rubber noses” bleak comedy from back in 1979 that starred George Burns and Art Carney. The original was directed by Martin Brest, the guy who would go on to direct Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run and, uh oh, Gigli. This take loses all of the charm of that fun and slightly dark Burns vehicle. It’s super heavy on schmaltz, and it asks a strong cast to embarrass themselves for more than 90 minutes. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin replace Burns, Carney and Lee Strasberg in the updated story, and that setup probably looked pretty good on paper. Unfortunately, they handed the film to Zach Braff, the guy from Scrubs, to direct. Braff does so with all the subtlety and nuance of an M80 going off in a candlelight yoga class. The comedic moments demand that you laugh, and you don’t. The touching moments grab you by the collar and scream, “Cry for me!” and you don’t. The heist itself insists that it is clever while being rather rote and mundane. Caine replaces Burns as Joe, the brains of the group. Joe, during a visit to a bank to complain about his upcoming foreclosure, witnesses a bank robbery. So, naturally, when he and his pals’ pensions go away, he decides to rob a bank. Then, after some gentle persuading with Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin), they rob a bank. The big twist here is that they rob a bank wearing Rat Pack masks instead of the rubber nose glasses they wore in the original. That’s the biggest twist the film has to offer. The heist itself just sort of happens. Braff shows you some of the planning and execution in flashbacks, but this technique doesn’t reveal the heist as anything ingenious.