David Spade is a middle-aged loser, whose pathetic life only perks up with the reintroduction of Adam Sandler. Not simply an apposite summary of Mr. Spade’s career to date, this also forms the basis of the plot for Sandler’s latest Netflix (misad)venture, in which the most reviled yet perplexingly successful comedian of our time plays FBI Agent Max, AKA “Maxi Pad”. Reunited with Spade’s down-on-his-luck suburbanite Charlie at their high school reunion, Max decides to solve his unfulfilled friend’s woes by using an impromptu boys’ getaway to stage their deaths. Free and clear to forge fresh paths for themselves, the pair assume new identities and prepare to enjoy the high life – only to swiftly become caught up in a plot involving a hitman, a miraculous piece of medical research, and Luis Guzman’s testicles. Seriously.
Easily the least amusing comedy since The Ridiculous Six, The Do-Over marks something of a new career low, not only for Sandler – whose apparently unkillable international appeal is clearly the only thing keeping him afloat at this stage – but Spade as well. Think about that for a second: The Do-Over is so wholeheartedly bereft of enjoyment or laughs that it manages to drag down the star of Lost & Found, a feat previously assumed impossible by the sane and rational. Hitching his wagon to an hour and forty-eight minutes of gay panic wrapped in a poorly developed caper romp, Sandler has never seemed quite as apathetic or contemptuous towards his audience as he does here, while writers Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas cater to his low-bar whims with such delightful witticisms as “let Maxi Pad soak up your pain”.
Strangely, reuniting Sandler with Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds director Steven Brill never even faintly leads to any kind of cohesive flow. Instead, the bulk of The Do-Over focuses on static sitcom-like shots and weirdly prolonged, dialogue-heavy gags, typically centring around the star’s inane fear of male sexuality. When the script calls for action sequences – each becoming increasingly nonsensical as the film unfolds – Brill seems asleep at the wheel, as if his mere presence can best be summed up by the look of demonstrable humiliation on the face of a cameoing Michael Chiklis.
Further establishing herself as the Tesco Value Range answer to Zoe Saldana, Paula Patton shows up as Spade’s would-be love interest, who – along with Kathryn Hahn as Sandler’s – is something of a non-entity, appearing only in service to the antiquated cinematic notion that “bitches be loco”. It’s a worn trope, only considered groundbreaking in the mind of a star with little imagination, albeit with the sheer clout to bag Sean Astin for a cameo that sees him anally penetrated by Natasha Leggero – again: bitches, loco, try to keep up. That gag in and of itself is perhaps the best representation of The Do-Over as a work of entertainment: a 2016 feature film that falls back again and again on the notion of gay panic as fodder for comedy, while simultaneously delivering content of such non-existent quality that Ms. Leggero thrusting an exaggerated strap-on into your anus would be a damn sight more enjoyable.