Netflix has successfully made itself the home of quality television. Shows like House of Cards have won Emmys, proving that the streaming company is as much a player as any of the major networks. Now Netflix wants to do the same thing with movies. The Ridiculous 6 is the first of four movies that Adam Sandler will be bringing directly to the streaming giant. These movies will have casts and budgets on par with any other major film release. If this film is any indication, though, we’re in for three more terrible, mildly offensive Adam Sandler movies.
The Ridiculous Six follows Adam Sandler as Tommy Stockburn. He’s been raised by Native Americans for most of his life after his mother was killed when he was a child. He now goes by the Indian name “White Knife,” and has become an amazing fighter because Native Americans all have magic powers. He’s about to be married to a native woman, named “Smoking Fox” (because all the Native Americans in this movie have names like that) when his long-absent biological father (Nick Nolte) finally shows up looking for him. He has money he wants to give to Tommy, but before he can, the rest of dad’s old outlaw gang shows up to get their share of the money and they take daddy dearest off with them.
Since Tommy doesn’t know where the money is, he devises a plan to steal $50,000 from evil white people in order to buy his dad’s freedom. Along the way, he discovers that his dad got around, as he runs into five half brothers that he didn’t know he had (Rob Schneider, Taylor Lautner, Jorge Garcia, Luke Wilson, Terry Crews). They each agree to join his cause in order to finally meet their shared father. The characters each have names, but that’s hardly important. What’s important is that each brother brings a unique character trait to be made fun of. The Indian, The Mexican, The Idiot, The Mountain Man, The Drunk, and The Black Guy.
The Ridiculous 6 made headlines during its production because several Native American actors walked off the set because they felt the script was very much “laughing at” as opposed to “laughing with” their heritage. While many of the worst jokes that were in the original script have not survived to the final cut, there is still a general feeling that the natives here are caricatures, not characters. The movie is obviously trying to make fun of classic westerns, the title screen tells you the film is “in 4K” in the same way an old John Wayne movie would be sure you knew it was ‘in CinenaScope” so the fact that all the Native Americans speak in pidgin English, like they did in those old movies can be understood. Unfortunately, it’s still 2015 and it’s just not funny.
Sandler is at his best when he makes fun of himself. Here, The Ridiculous 6 makes fun of everybody else. No minority is safe. No stereotype is left untouched. Sandler is the one character who moves through the film without being poked fun at. Any jokes made at his expense are only due to the character’s Native American upbringing.
The most frustrating part of this utter failure is that they had all the ingredients to make one of the most star-studded comedies in the history of cinema. Nearly every comedian who’s walked within a half block of Saturday Night Live is in this movie. Will Forte, David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Steve Buscemi, Chris Parnell, Chris Kattan, and that’s just a few. A cast like this should have been able to do something epic. Instead, all you get out of it is the brief moment of recognizing a funny comedian that you’ve seen do something better someplace else.
Even the best part of the movie highlights additional problems. At one point the Ridiculous Six come across Abner Doubleday (John Turturro) attempting to teach a group of Chinese laborers the game of baseball. Turturro is the single best part of the movie, and the sequence answers the age old question “Why are the rules of baseball so odd?” The problem with the scene is that it’s entirely superfluous. It could have been excised entirely and nothing would have been lost. And it probably should have been, because the movie is too damn long. It’s a full two hours and in addition to not needing to watch the characters play baseball, we also didn’t need the entire third act. It’s only there because there still more comedians that we haven’t shoe-horned into the film yet.
Part of reviewing movies is about informing the public about where it’s worth spending their hard earned money. This is a nearly moot point in this case because odds are you’ve already paid for Netflix this month. Still, your time is worth something too. There’s no reason to waste it watching this.
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