Strap in for the first of Adam Sandler’s four-picture deal with Netflix, which is pretty much everything you should reasonably expect from a Sandler-produced send-up of spaghetti westerns, which also has the good fortune of releasing shortly ahead of the release of his buddy Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight for added intertextuality.
In the Old West, Tommy Stockburn (Adam Sandler) recruits his five half-brothers (Rob Schneider, Taylor Lautner, Jorge Garcia, Terry Crews and Luke Wilson) to follow his scumbag, absentee father Frank (Nick Nolte), who will apparently lead them to a grand fortune.
The western genre is itself a pretty risky commercial proposition these days, but the western spoof is even more specialist, and despite having a rich well to mine satirical content from, Sandler and frequent co-writer Tim Herlihy have largely opted for the crudest, lowest-effort gags possible here.
Much was said about the movie’s potentially racist overtones in the months ahead of release, and those who caught whiff of this are unlikely to be relieved by the final product, which if not racist certainly walks a fine line, making little consideration for the historical context get-out that typically acquits more serious films, but instead enthusiastically reaching for the lowest-hanging gag time and again.
Some of the slapstick isn’t atrocious and the performances are uniformly decent, even in the more humiliating roles (Nolte, Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi are almost preposterously committed to their parts), but overall it just feels like such a waste of a ripe idea were it in the hands of other writers. Sandler, strangely, plays his part almost completely straight and is barely a source of laughs (or anything approaching laughs) throughout, and the pic’s indecent 2-hour run-time only makes the stamina-draining relentlessness that much more challenging to sit through.
How aggressively upsetting you’ll find the film will depend on your individual tolerance for un-PC humour and poo jokes, and though well-acted and surprisingly nice to look at (Oscar-winning DP Dean Semler is the easy MVP here), it’s certainly on the lower end of the comedian’s recent output, if not quite as unconscionably awful as Jack and Jill or Grown Ups 2.
The Ridiculous 6 is available on Netflix now