Sean K. Cureton

The Magnificent Seven Revisited

In Movies on VOD: Reviews and Recommendations on January 16, 2016 at 1:31 pm
The Ridiculous 6

Netflix

The Ridiculous 6 (2015)
Directed by Frank Coraci
Netflix Rating: Liked It

Perhaps more notorious by now for reportedly being the most streamed Netflix title in the history of the popular online movie rental service, the latest Happy Madison Productions opus from former Saturday Night Live alumnus Adam Sandler, The Ridiculous 6, came out at the end of last year to a certain kind of fanfare particular to its featured star. Seemingly, Sandler can only do wrong in the eyes of most film critics, who see the drek that he consistently churns out every year as an indication of the apparent devolution of the expectations of high minded movie going viewership. And his latest film is nothing if not lacking in originality, depth, and subtlety, as the film borrows its title and heritage from its immediate association with director Quentin Tarantino’s similarly themed Western genre picture of the same year, The Hateful Eight, only in Sandler’s hands the material is more appropriately handled in the making of something far more hateful and ignorant than Tarantino’s correspondingly low-brow violent fantasy. It’s easy list the litany of cinema sins that Sandler continues to make in his latest film with frequent director Frank Coraci, but then where would be the point in that? Why rage against the Happy Madison machine, that continues to trade in the same, tired sex, dick, and fart jokes that has made Sandler a bankable star for some thirty-odd years now?

The simple fact of the matter is that for however offended some cultural commentators might want to get about the continued success of Sandler and his crew, and despite their films receiving consistently poor marks from the most respected film critics working today, The Ridiculous 6 is amusing. It’s entertaining, albeit not in a groundbreaking way, but it does cow tail the same melodramatically cathartic comedy of errors that has made Sandler’s humor work in the past, and will likely continue to serve him well going into the new year. Like Tarantino’s oeuvre, Happy Madison films have become synonymous over the years with a certain frat boy mentality that is co-dependently fulfilling precisely because of how immature and rude it appears on the outside. In rehashing old gags and poorly conceived narrative set pieces again and again, Sandler, alongside frequent co-writer Tim Herlihy, play at a sense of ritual bonding that has made them such a formidable force within the realm of the blockbuster studio comedy. Their latest effort plays into that, and by doing so succeeds not on the worth of its individual merits, but by association with past successes and a general familiarity that viewers of Sandler’s films over the years have come to associate with past successes, and sometime better films, like Billy Madison and Big Daddy.

In his new film, Sandler stars as a white man raised by American Indians in an intensely sensationalized Western genre set-piece that calls back to the John Sturges film upon which his comedy, and Tarantino’s aforementioned fantasy, are both based in part. Where The Magnificent Seven made mainstream dramatic fare out of the Western film genre, Sandler and Tarantino playfully satirize the former film for all of its presumed self-importance, and have developed their own films to echo their namesake’s pompous arrogance in kind. Neither The Hateful Eight or The Ridiculous 6 make for entirely compelling pieces of cinematic narrative that are coherent or cohesive in their own right, but as signifiers of well worn dramatic tropes and genre set pieces they evoke ideas and general plot points that the viewer can attribute to them while watching each film respectively. Neither Sandler or Tarantino are entirely capable in terms of original storytelling in the two films, but then again they don’t have to be, as each of them are deconstructing a time honored story according to their own creative proclivities, for better and for worse. The Ridiculous 6 is funny, and The Hateful Eight is thrilling, though you’d be hard pressed to find anything specific to each film that would make them citable over the course of the next years as anything worthy of further thought or attention, critical or otherwise.

In short, The Ridiculous 6 is bad studio comedy, and The Hateful Eight is a self-indulgent fantasy, and both films suffer form their status as low-brow entertainment in kind. But each film is also immediately enjoyable for viewers who know what they’re getting in for, and don’t come to either film with outstanding expectations of greatness or ingenuity. Like any Tarantino film, Sandler delivers a consistent kind of mainstream humor that has become inextricably linked with his person, and can be counted upon by his fans and erstwhile viewers alike. The Ridiculous 6 never sets out to break from this expected pattern, and as such may find its way into entertaining those viewers willing to engage in sophomoric antics otherwise cast aside in day to day life. Sandler might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his humor can still make those enamored of him crack a smile, and his latest film does so in spades, even if its is of objectively poor quality.

The Ridiculous 6 is available on Netflix Instant View, and is My Movies on Netflix Review of the week.

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