The Ridiculous 6 review
Netflix tries to revive Adam Sandler
The politically incorrect western-comedy genre dates back 41 years to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. After a handful of attempts to tap into that magic (A Million Ways to Die in the West or Casa de mi Padre, for example), the most recent try, The Ridiculous 6, also falls short of Brooks’ classic. Taking its title from a play on more dramatic western films like The Magnificent Seven or The Hateful Eight, The Ridiculous 6 arrives on the scene as the first project of four that comedy heavyweight Adam Sandler agreed to make with Netflix Instant Streaming service. The star of several 90s hits like The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, and Billy Madison, Sandler recently hit a long string of dud releases as his fan-base appears to have grown beyond the actor’s trademark over-the-top immaturity. His newest movie is no different from what audiences have come to expect, but altogether less disappointing when one considers Netflix doesn’t charge an additional fee for a viewing.
The Ridiculous 6 relies largely on offensive and irritatingly unbelievable jokes (“ridiculous” is in the title) that never land well, such as the perpetually annoying stupidity pouring out of Taylor Lautner (The Twilight Saga, Valentine’s Day) or the eternal grunting from Jorge Garcia (“Lost,” “Hawaii Five-O”). However, there is room for positive mention. Sandler can’t quite take the blame for the movie’s lack of laughs as he plays the straight man, “White Knife”—abandoning the foolish, prankish persona that he generally adopts for a majority of his “roles” and assuming the role of a stoic, heroic protagonist who assembles his five ridiculous half-brothers to form a gang of outlaws in order to rescue their kidnapped, Nick Nolte-father. Every comedy needs a character to dial it back on the humor in order for the plot to take hold, and Sandler accomplishes this with ease.
Fans of Sandler expecting to see his traditional cavalcade of celebrity casting certainly won’t find disappointment. In addition to Lautner and Garcia, the other three brothers are frequent Sandler collaborators Rob Schneider and Terry Crews, along with cameo extraordinaire Luke Wilson. Also popping in is: Harvey Keitel, David Spade, Whitney Cummings, Vanilla Ice, Danny Trejo, Will Forte, Steve Zahn, Jon Lovitz, Nick Swardson, Norm MacDonald, Chris Kattan, Dan Patrick, and Lavell Crawford. While almost none of these appearances amount to much laughter beyond the sheer concept of Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain, there are a few stand-out cameos that make The Ridiculous 6 worthwhile. Steve Buscemi plays a town doctor who solves every problem with a tub of ointment. John Turturro shows up as Abner Doubleday for the funniest sequence of the movie, where the sport of baseball gets invented while accommodating its inventor. Character actor Saginaw Grant also appears as the hilariously deadpan “Screaming Eagle.”
Audiences rooting for Adam Sandler to reclaim his career will simply have to wait and see what Netflix has in store for him next time. The Ridiculous 6 reminds viewers why Sandler’s recent string of films like Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, Blended, or Pixels have bombed at the box office. Calling in favors for a boatload of cameo appearances can’t save the film, nor does it make the jokes more humorous. Who knows what the streaming giant will ask the actor to do next? For Sandler’s own good, hope Paul Thomas Anderson is available to help the actor tap back into that critically-adored Punch Drunk Love performance.