One of the most unpleasant moviegoing experiences this year takes place far away from any movie theatre. It begins on Netflix, and ends in regret.
In The Ridiculous 6, Adam Sandler plays Tommy, an orphan raised in the wild west by a Native American tribe. After reacquainting with his out-of-luck Father (Frank Stockburn played by Nick Nolte) and discovering his Pa’s unpaid debt, Tommy embarks on a mission to collect the money. He fills out his team of outlaws with long-lost brothers he meets along the way (Rob Schneider, Terry Crews, Jorge Garcia, Luke Wilson, and Taylor Lautner).
The Ridiculous 6 is a torturous comedy since it features no jokes. At least, none that impressed me. I laughed once at a throwaway reference to Home Alone after a character imitates Macaulay Culkin’s iconic gasp, but it was out of embarrassment. I didn’t think the film would go out of its way to make that reference. The same thing happened when I guessed early on that Crews, at some point, would play the piano with his genitals. When it actually happened, it was a smile that faded into disappointment.
First of all, The Ridiculous 6 is shy of being two hours – that is way too long. Not just for a Happy Madison production, but for any movie with thin material and indulgent pacing. The movie locates a character and proceeds to give that actor too much time to play out lame schtick. For example, when we meet up with Garcia’s unintelligible oaf, the audience receives drawn-out confrontations full of grumbles and buffoon slapstick.
Then, once the troupe is formed, the heists slowly build toward the grand total of what the protagonists need. There’s no real purpose to spread out the stickups other than to give Sandler’s friends standalone scenes to kid around with each other. These run-ins include a rival one-eyed gang (Will Forte and Steve Zahn among others), a crooked kingpin (Harvey Keitel), and famous people in history (David Spade portraying General George Custer, Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain). It may have been fun for the actors to play dress-up alongside their recurring comedy partners, but the amusement doesn’t extend towards the audience.
I gave Frank Coraci a hard time for directing Sandler’s unbearable Blended, but his directorial work on The Ridiculous 6 suggests that it might be too late to save his filmmaking. His recent work is far from the charismatic quality many remember from The Wedding Singer, and he’s since allowed himself to slip into a state of laziness – allowing his actors to have too much control over a scene. Same goes for Tim Herlihy, Sandler’s writing partner on The Ridiculous 6. The screenwriter has allowed himself to become undemanding and indifferent, which is a shame since he once knew how to stick a comedic landing in Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and the aforementioned The Wedding Singer.
The Happy Madison gang have found their groove, and it’s quite apparent (and unfortunate) that they’re content with the amount of effort they put into a production. However, with The Ridiculous 6, they feel the need to impress through set design and costuming. Maybe because they don’t want to dissatisfy their new partner, Netflix – that’s just a guess. Perry Andelin Blake – Happy Madison’s go-to production designer – has actually done a comparable job recreating the Old West, but his hard work is squandered by a movie that refuses to have the same outgoing attitude.
The Ridiculous 6 has gross-out humour that’s heavy on the “gross” and light on the “humour”, along with overcooked exposition to flesh out a theme of family. Lots of viewers and background actors in The Ridiculous 6 have decided to direct criticism towards the humiliating representation of Native Americans, but were they really expecting cultural respect from filmmakers who don’t even respect their own general moviegoing audience?
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie