Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Ridiculous 6

Adam Sandler seems to have a pattern. When he releases two movies in a year, one is usually terrible, and one is usually better, sometimes even good. For every Reign Over Me, he's made at least one I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. This year, Adam Sandler's Hapy Madison Productions has released a total of four movies, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Pixels, Hotel Transylvania 2, and The Ridiculous 6. Only one of those movies is even considered anywhere near good, and The Ridiculous 6 isn't that film.
If you take a look at Sandler's filmography, you'll notice that he's released at least one movie a year ever since 1998, completely uninterrupted. If not for the fact that he didn't release a movie at all in 1997, that streak would reach as far back as 1992! Mel Brooks would have a hard time putting out nothing but good comedies over that length of time! Stanley Kubrick would have a difficult time putting out good movies non-stop if he was working on that kind of schedule! So would Coppola, Jackson, Spielberg, Scorsese, Hitchcock, or Abrams. And Sandler isn't on the level of any of those guys. Even back in his prime, Sandler wouldn't have been able to keep up that kind of momentum. If Bucky Larson and Jack and Jill were the cracks in the facade, Pixels and The Ridiculous 6 are the holes, showing glimpses of the creature that spawned Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg eating whatever's left of Sandler's talent.
At this point, I feel safe in saying that Adam Sandler has become to comedy what Steven Segal became to action movies. They both started out pretty good, then got worse as time went on and they got more successful. After that, their main characters were usually author-insertion Gary-Stus, their movies got predictable, and no matter how much hate they got, they never seemed to go away. Even that's being a little unfair to Steven Segal, since his movies were never quite as disgusting as Sandler's are at their worst.
Sandler's self-inserts are usually the regular schlub with a hot girlfriend and some insane connections. Pixels took that to its extreme, with Sandler's character being best friends with the President, a successful businessman, and a former champion gamer. His character in this movie is different, since he's more of a straight-man to the crazy antics of the other characters, which works slightly better, but as time goes on you can see that he's just written himself another Gary Stu. This all becomes apparent once the character goes from being a guy adopted by Indians with comically good fighting skills, to just being a straight western hero, without any of the funny antics. This happens about twenty minutes into the film, by the way.
The way the movie starts off, it's almost as if it's lambasting ridiculous old westerns, attitudes in the old west, stereotype perpetuated by popular culture, and Sandler's typical bizarre writing style. It's almost as if Sandler was going for a bit of self-parody at first, but then a burro with explosive diarrhea showed up, almost as if to say "Fooled you, this movie's gonna be terrible!"
I almost stopped watching at this point, since I figured there was no way it could get any better. However, Sandler went on to prove me absolutely right by the end of the movie!
Adam Sandler plays Tommy "White Knife" Stockburn, a white guy who was adopted by an Apache tribe after the death of his mother. Right off the bat, you know pretty much everything you need to know about the character. He's white, and he uses knives a lot. In fact, after the opening of the movie, knives are all he uses, despite obviously having tapped into the Speed Force.
Something I noticed about the first ten to twenty minutes of the movie is that everyone seems incredibly wooden. Sandler especially seems like he showed up on set after not sleeping for three days and was then forced to retake the same scene fifty times in a day before being allowed to take a nap. And if that was the case, one has to wonder what the other actors excuses were.
White Knife's dad shows up and tells him that he used to be a bank-robber and that he buried his score around where White Knifes tribe is currently stationed. Then Danny Trejo shows up, kidnaps the dad, and says he's gonna kill him if they don't find the buried treasure. So White Knife goes on a journey to steal fifty grand from "people with no honor."
This is the point where Sandler's character stopped being a wooden caricature and started being an insufferable Clint Eastwood ripoff. He starts talking like Eastwood, he starts acting like Eastwood. Only difference is that Adam Sandler isn't at all convincing as a gritty western hero.
If you looked at the poster, you'd notice Rod Schneider is in this movie, and if you know anything about Rob Schneider, you'd be surprised to know that he's actually not the most annoying person in this movie. That dubious honor goes to Taylor Lautner, mostly due to his characters obnoxious hillbilly accent. Yes, the obviously Native American Taylor Lautner plays a redneck in a world that's comically racist against Indians. A world where the incredibly white Adam Sandler is almost killed because he's mistaken for an Indian, Pete can ride around on his cart with impunity. Did literally nobody involved with this movie think to point out this incredibly obvious flaw in their logic? Or maybe they were setting up an orphaned joke about racial stereotypes. Looking at the poster, you can see that Terry Crews is in this movie as well, and there's a joke at one point about his character revealing to the others that he's black, and them not actually noticing. Do people just not notice your race in this world unless you're dressed as the most obvious of ethnic stereotypes. And even then, you could just say whatever race you want to be and they'll believe you. This could have been a setup for a really funny joke, but considering that this is coming to us by way of Adam Sandler, a three-way studio struggle between Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros., and a three year development cycle, it's not at all surprising that there are concepts and plot-threads that come and go without explanation.
White Knife and company keep robbing people and finding more half-brothers until they have six. They get all the money they need, but then it gets stolen by a gang White Knife pissed off in the start of the movie. They then rob a poker-game with only a few days left to save their dad, they then find the gang that robbed them and get all the rest of the money back, White Knife shows off some stupidly good tracking skills, and they manage to track the gang down, but White Knife leaves the Six behind to take on the gang himself, because he figures out that Danny Trejo's character, Cicero killed his mother. Somehow. I don't get it. Apparently that was because of a tattoo Cicero has that Tommy noticed on his mothers killer, but there's really no way he could know any of this.
White Knife shows up at the Singing Windmill, drops off the cash, and for some reason the dad turns out to be evil. No, I don't know why. It's most likely just a really bad attempt at a third act twist, just like the contrived third-act setback from earlier. The brothers set off a bomb in the saddle-bags full of cash, White Knife kills Cicero in the most anti-climactic way possible, and the brothers turn the dad in to the police. Most likely Wyatt Earp, since of course he shows up in this movie.
White Knife's adopted father adopts his five half-brothers, White Knife marries his girlfriend, and everyone lives happily ever after. Until everyone died of dysentery, hepatitis, or the upcoming World War I.
Now that we're done attempting to summarize the incredibly stupid plot, let's go over some of the stupider moments in the movie. The aforementioned diarrhea mule is a good place to start, but the one this that was actually even more distasteful was said mule giving Pete a blowjob. Fortunately it didn't get any worse than that, although it did get less funny. Abner Doubleday shows up, played by John Turturro in an incredibly forced sequence revolving around incredibly stupid baseball jokes. You can't even really call them "Jokes," since they're either stating facts about the game, or saying one thing about the game, and then going on to say the right thing. It's incredibly hard to watch, and it's made even worse by the fact that Abner Doubleday didn't even invent baseball!
Then Lil' Pete irritates the local sheriff into getting him hung to distract the town from the rest of the gang robbing them blind. This pays off something Pete mentioned earlier in the movie, about him having a strong neck. The next few minutes of the movie are based around Pete showing off his incredibly strong neck. It starts out mildly funny, and then they draw the joke out long enough that they kill the humor. They drag it out so long they suck the humor right out of its natural environment and torture it like their name is Jack Bauer.
Later on in the film, while they're staging the robbery of the poker-game, General Armstrong Custer, Mark Twain and Wyatt Earp show up to make a ton of jokes about their future history. I'll admit that some of these jokes are fairly humorous, but for the most part they're just cringeworthy. General Custer is played by David Spade, one of Sandler's former SNL co-stars. Wyatt Earp is played by Country Snoozic star Blake Shelton, and Mark Twain is played by Vanilla Ice. I don't even have to say what he does, you guys already know. Shelton and Spade's characters are played relatively straight, however Mark Twain appears to have been written as a parody of Ice's 90's persona. This whole scenario seems to have been ripped straight from an SNL skit, or possibly an internet web-series, since I wouldn't expect to see anything like this in a film normally. Custer, Earp and a rapping Twain being poker-buddies? That sounds like the right kind of material for a decently funny skit or short series. Unfortunately, this scene has the single most forced attempt at a "joke" by way of reference in the form of Rob Schneider doing the Home Alone face, and Custer mentioning aftershave and being "home alone."
It was at this point in the film that I started drawing more direct comparisons between it and the world of Seltzer and Friedberg. Weird skits that come out of nowhere and then vanish without any explanation, rhyme or reason.
Overall, Terry Crews and Danny Trejo were the best parts of this whole movie, with some mad props to Vanilla Ice for making his stupid character actually kinda funny, but only just. Everything else is either stupid, idiotic, insulting, nonsensical, bizarre, ludicrous, inane, disgusting, or just outright confusing. All in all, this was a terrible western, a terrible comedy, and a terrible film overall. You want to see a funny western? Go watch Blazing Saddles, it's actually good.
While I was writing this review, I realized that an anachronistic western with Danny Trejo and Terry Crews as buddy cops (Or buddy Marshals) would be a great thing to watch. It'd be like A Knight's Tale, but set in the old west. And most importantly, it'd be better than The Ridiculous 6!
With all of the good things coming out of Netflix Studios lately, The Ridiculous 6 is a massive disappointment, although considering Adam Sandler was attached to the project, it's not at all surprising. I can't see how this movie cost sixty million to make, it's not like they had amazing visual effects or anything. Maybe that's what they had to pay to get Nick Nolte, Danny Trejo, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, and Terry Crews. Or maybe Sandler demanded a huge amount of money for his family to appear in the film for some reason. No matter how you slice it, this movie cost far more than it should have, especially for the level of quality we're dealing with.
In the end, The Ridiculous 6 was a terrible film, and I'm gonna give it a 0.5* rating. I'm wondering how long until Sandler drops all pretense and starts working with The Asylum. Or Seltzerberg. Or both. God, I hope that never happens, that would be the ultimate in terrible films. Hell, let's add Uwe Boll into the mix too.
By the way, since I'm running late on my reviews, I'm going to be delaying the best/worst lists until late January to early February.

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