Written by Josh Sarnecky
The Do-Over Plot Summary:
Charlie McMillian (David Spade) is trapped in an unsatisfying job and a nightmarish marriage, so when his high school friend, Max Kessler (Adam Sandler), fakes their deaths, Charlie and Max get a second chance at life. However, Charlie and Max soon discover that the men whose identities they stole were at the heart of a conspiracy that could cost the two friends their lives for real.
Let me start this review with a quick disclaimer: I am not and have never been a fan of Adam Sandler and his friends. That being said, I’ve only seen two or three of his films and thought they were alright, so I don’t think I’m familiar enough with his movies to make any sweeping claims about their overall quality. However, I am aware of the incredible amount of hatred Sandler’s work has received online and from critics, and the commercials and trailers I’ve seen for his films haven’t left me impressed or interested. I began my viewing of The Do-Over, then, with the goal of giving this movie a fair shot that ignored previous criticism of Sandler I’d heard.
Unfortunately, The Do-Over lived up (or down?) to the incredibly low expectations I hoped to disregard. There are certainly some moments that are more enjoyable than others and show signs of quality, but the majority of the movie is weighed down by a lack of originality and humor. The film’s plot resembles a hodgepodge of Family Guy episodes loosely sewn together; the movie juggles characters faking their deaths, stealing identities with unforeseen consequences, and battling a nefarious company trying to destroy an experimental treatment for a deadly disease. Granted, originality is not always an indicator of greatness, but the well-worn plot points in The Do-Over make the film feel as if the writers put incredibly little effort into the script.
Perhaps the film’s greatest failure, though, is that the movie simply isn’t funny. Comedy is highly subjective and difficult to write, but the jokes are once again stale. The Do-Over is highly reliant on the types of jokes that can be found in any number of other features, and the movie unapologetically plagiarizes There’s Something About Mary and other popular comedies. Aside from being cliché, the jokes are also incredibly immature; a misogynistic, homophobic teenager could have easily written the script. Comedy is often not for the uptight or easily offended, but the film is so overly reliant on these divisive forms of humor that it’s nearly impossible to consider the film anything other than lazy and distasteful. The movie has a runtime of nearly two hours, and I remember only laughing once, half-heartedly.
Sandler and Spade put as little energy as possible into their performances; their acting is largely limited to changing the volume of their voices. The most enjoyable performance actually belongs to Paula Patton as Heather, who steals the show late in the movie when her character’s true motives are revealed. Heather’s character arc may be highly predictable, but Patton’s ability to chew up the scenery in the final act is easily a highlight of the film. Conversely, the film’s greatest sin in terms of actors is that The Do-Over wastes the notable talent of award winners Sean Astin and Michael Chiklis. They may only appear in minor roles, but these stars should be embarrassed to have their names on this movie.
The characters themselves are also largely flat and difficult to become invested in. Spade’s Charlie McMillian is a stereotypical loser who is bullied by everyone he meets and is always the butt of jokes. All of the characters he interacts with are clichés that could have easily been pulled from any other lackluster show or movie: the ditzy and unfaithful wife, the wife’s gross ex-boyfriend, the gay biker, the sadistic assassin, and the love interest turned criminal mastermind are all in play. The surprising exception among the characters is Sandler’s Max, who starts out as a chauvinist badass with insane plans but eventually is revealed to have deeper motivations. Even with this twist, however, Max acts as more of a vehicle for lame jokes than an actual character.
Ultimately, such half-baked characters reflect the overall nature of The Do-Over. The plot and so many of the jokes are so lazy that the movie is impossible to enjoy or remain interested in. I still don’t think that I have enough of a sample size to make any generalizations about the value of Sandler’s work, but this movie makes me more willing to believe the actor/producer’s many critics.
Rating: 2.5 out of 10