Not quite as awful as Sandler's usual fare, but rarely ever better than simply being fine. Needlessly complex and expectedly silly.
It’s pretty difficult to sit down and objectively review an Adam Sandler film. Despite the somewhat washed-up comedian faring rather awfully with critics since at least 2010’s Grown Ups, his stuff still attracts ridiculously huge audiences, questioning whether or not reviews like this even really matter in the end. Sandler gets a holiday, you get 90 minutes of poorly conceived comedy: everybody wins. His latest Netflix-backed project, the second in a seemingly never-ending contract, seems at least a little different though.
The Do-Over finds Sandler and regular cohort David Spade in buddy movie mode, as two sad-sack losers faking their deaths to ‘do-over’ their lives and party as kings on the sunny shores of Puerto Rico. The expected shit starts to hit the fan though when the duo soon realise that the identities they’ve stolen have high-powered bounties on their heads, and they soon find themselves wrapped up in a hideously tangled conspiracy-style plot, involving somersaulting Russian assassins and oddly enough, a cure for cancer.
Not quite the usual lowest-common-denominator plotting that comes with Sandler and co.’s standard fart-joke-centred trivialities; this much is true, but there is still plenty of expected nonsense along the way.
The regular pool of desperate Sandlerites show up for their one-joke cameos, the narrative pings from sunny vista to sunny vista to satisfy some sort of ‘vacation clause’ in everyone’s contracts, and the man himself phones in a lazy, half-arsed performance from behind a giant pile of money. Well, what were you really expecting?
It’s not quite as silly or monotonous as Sandler’s last Netflix effort – the criminally over-watched The Ridiculous 6 – but it really is impossible to escape the fact that The Do Over reeks of professional laziness. The thriller-esque narrative, as bold as it so often tries to be with its twists, is ultimately a total under-thought mess, the characters are single-shade nobodies and even the cinematography and lighting seems to have been half-heartedly thrown together in the vein of some sort of low-rent Hallmark TV movie.
In fact, it seems that the only real compliment one can pay The Do Over is that it’s not quite as bad as you might be expecting. The often violent depths it eventually finds itself sinking to do keeps you semi-interested beyond the seriously lame humour, and the occasional appearance of a talented somebody beyond the usual Sandler canon, such as the perfectly fine Kathryn Hahn, helps to elevate things a tad.
Although ultimately, it’s hard to say anything more about the film’s more positive aspects than that they are simply ‘fine’. Which in some ways might even be considered worse. At least if this was the deluded train-wreck many were expecting, there would be a sense of professional curiosity as to just how awful it could really be. Or at least the die-hard Sandler followers (wherever they may be hiding) would at least appreciate just how ridiculous their master had become.
As it stands, it’s just another messy and easily forgettable caper that serves as yet another reason for Sandler to either start seriously paying attention to whatever the hell he’s doing, or simply just save us all the energy of telling him how terrible he’s become, and retire. By this point, doing so almost feels like it should be a national service.
The Do Over (2016), directed by Steven Brill, is available to stream on Netflix now.