The comedy western movie is super hard to nail. For every Blazing Saddles, there’s a Wild Wild West. For every Rango, there’s a Shanghai Noon and for every The Good, The Bad, The Weird, there’s a Lightning Jack.
For The Ridiculous 6 – the first of four Netflix productions he’s signed on to make with the streaming provider – Adam Sandler has gone where (the relatively popular in comparison) Seth MacFarlane crashed and burned just last year with A Million Ways To Die In The West.
In this satire of The Magnificent Seven, Sandler stars as a man who is raised by Native Americans after his mother is killed walking him to school. After his estranged father (Nick Nolte) suddenly shows up to reconcile with him and is subsequently kidnapped, Sandler takes it upon himself to rescue the old man.
Along the way he meets five other sons sired by Nolte’s outlaw over the years. There’s Rob Schneider (of course) playing a Mexican man travelling with a donkey prone to diarrhoea, Jorge Garcia from Lost as a mute booze-maker, Taylor Lautner doing his best Simple Jack impression, Terry Crews as a piano player and Luke Wilson as a drunk haunted by past mistakes.
Together they go on to rob some bad guys, interact with what feels like a million Happy Madison stock cameos and head toward a final showdown with Nolte’s kidnappers – headed by Danny Trejo.
The Ridiculous 6 isn’t a poorly made film. It’s way, way too long, but the direction is fine, it’s well lit and everyone seems to be having fun and trying their best. This is the same team that worked on the pretty decent Sandler vehicle The Wedding Singer all those years ago, after all. Netflix have thrown some hardcore cash at this and the result is a not-completely-unwatchable two (two!) hours.
Is it funny? No. It keeps a steady tone, but the jokes never really land. It’s hard to bottle a good comedy film and despite the experience all these actors have in the bank, it never quite provokes the reaction it looks for. Would kids like it? Sure, why not? Someone is watching these movies and enjoying them – they keep making money. Maybe it’s kids.
Is it offensive? I mean, of course, in just about every way you can think of. In terms of racial insensitivity alone, it’s pushing the limits of today’s acceptability. The women? Well, they’re how you’ve come to expect them to be in your average Sandler flick – beautiful, two-dimensional damsels and busty, promiscuous strumpets; simple pawns with very little to do.
But the central problem is still Sandler. He’s like a black hole, sucking in all the twinkling lights around him; the cold, dark, apathetic centre of the Happy Madison production line. This is a man whose eyes are empty of joy. A man who has long since given up even pretending he cares about the end result of these relentless projects.
So does anyone make it out of The Ridiculous 6 covered in glory? Well, Vanilla Ice is in it for a few minutes and it could at least be argued that this is his best film since 1991’s Cool As Ice, so let’s chalk R6 up as a win for Mr Van Winkle.