This is a spoiler-free review of the Netflix comedy The Do-Over.
Adam Sandler has had a rough go of things lately in the movie industry and his criticisms are well deserved for most of his films. It seems Sandler has found a temporary home on Netflix though, and it is allowing him to explore the darker and more R-rated side of things.
I clicked on The Do-Over with tempered expectations, like I do with any Sandler comedy, and I found myself with a brand new feeling from this Happy Madison Production, it was a feeling I hadn't had since Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, or Water Boy... it was pure enjoyment.
The story is about a man named Charlie (David Spade) who is stuck in an unfulfilling life with a wife who cheats on him and he also is the lowly manager of a bank that works within a grocery store. He goes to his school reunion only to get caught up with his old friend Max (Adam Sandler). After a few beers and fun, Max fakes their deaths in order to escape their horrible lives and it sets them on an incredibly dangerous journey together.
While on the outside it sounds like another dumb Sandler comedy, the story itself is well thought out and actually has a fair amount of twists that will catch you by surprise.
The Do-Over is receiving the usual treatment from critics with a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 22 on Metacritic, but I think many critics may be falling back on traumatic memories of past Adam Sandler movies and looking at the flaws too harshly.
There are of course flaws in the writing as with any comedy film, but the flaws here get lost in the genuine story and character development. You actually watch as Charlie grows into a stronger more confident individual and you get to watch as Max's happy-go-lucky world isn't as joyous as he jokes it off to be.
The characters will tug at your heart strings as the story goes on, and the film delivers clear message about the evils of greed within things that we grow to trust in American society. It reminds me of a well received Sandler film, Funny People, that had a darker tone and had a story to back it up, while also giving you some good laughs.
This was not a romantic comedy and while the main storyline teases that type of film throughout, it never fully goes in that direction and it strays away from the stereotypical comedy movie.
This film still has the same Sandler schtick at certain points when it does venture into the more juvenile comedic portions, but thankfully those moments are found less here than in most of his movies.
David Spade's acting is well done, and while he does have those same Spade types of jokes and mannerisms, he shows off a little more range than we're used to seeing from him. Adam Sandler, on the other hand, stays with the usual sarcastic character that he usually does, but I will give him a pass considering that this character's type of attitude actually fits the script and development of the story. Sandler does pull off the emotional scenes better than you would expect him to, giving us flashbacks of his Reign Over Me and Punch Drunk Love days.
Overall this is a solid comedy with a great story that is perfect for a Netflix audience who can just sit back on the couch and enjoy it with friends. It shows that when Sandler puts work into a script and character he still has what it takes to give an enjoyable performance.
7 out of 10 stars