In the world of movies, there was really just one April Fool this year: Adam Sandler, whose “Jack and Jill” swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, going an (im)perfect ten for ten, winning (losing) every single trophy the Razzies handed out yesterday. It was an unprecedented feat in 32 years of Golden Raspberries and likely never to be duplicated (at least until Adam Sandler makes a movie with Madonna). Sandler’s cross-dressing comedy, which earned more than $148 million worldwide, will go down in history as the most reviled Razzie winner ever.
It will also go down in history as perhaps the worst example of the Razzies’ problems as an awards show. Giving “Jack and Jill” ten awards is good for a headline — especially if that headline is something like “CROSS-DRESSING SANDLER CROSSES RAZZIE VOTERS!” — but it’s bad for your reputation. Worst actor: Adam Sandler? Okay, fine. Worst actress: Adam Sandler? Cute. Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel: “Jack and Jill?” How’s that work? The Razzies claim that the film is a “Remake/Rip-Off of Ed Woods’ [sic] Cross-Dressing Camp Classic GLEN OR GLENDA,” which is a great insult to Wood (whose movie, while terribly made, was motivated by genuine artistic intentions while Sandler’s, while professionally produced, is motivated by a desire to work commercials for Pepto Bismol and Royal Caribbean into a film). It’s also a really cheap joke, cheaper than anything in “Jack and Jill.” In my book, if you’re going to mock a comedy for not making people laugh, your material better be funny.
You might argue that the Razzies have no control over what their 650 voting members pick — and to some extent, they don’t. But the Razzies aren’t exactly impartial either. They made that pretty clear this year when they boasted in their nominations press release that “Jack and Jill” had the “inside track” to win it all, which is exactly what ended up happening. Why not just send out the ballots pre-circled while you’re at it?
I didn’t think “Jack and Jill” was all that bad — frankly, I thought it was the least painful of Sandler’s four stinkers last year, trailing the noxious “Just Go With It,” the tedious “Zookeeper,” and the illegal in eighteen countries “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” — but that’s just my opinion. My problem is less with what they pick than how and why. In my last thinkpece on the Razzies, I suggested creating a new Razzie award, a sort of Best Worst Movie honor to separate the painfully bad from the transcendantly bad (knowing the Razzies, they would have given it to “Jack and Jill” anyway). Now I’m wondering why film critics don’t just start their own Worst Of the Year poll.
The Village Voice, Indiewire, and other regional and national film critics groups spend all of December ranking the best movies of the year, but these men and women, who see more bad movies than anyone else, give very little time to considering the worst. Last month, Movieline launched something called “The Soilies” as a direct competitior to the Razzies, with imput from more than 20 film critics. Their lineup of movies was strong (weak), far stronger (weaker) than the Razzies this year, and their offbeat categories included The Shit-the-Bed Award for high profile prestige pictures that didn’t live up to their pedigree (a la “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”). But just days after the Soilies launched, Movieline quietly killed the whole endeavor, deleting all the related pages (though some are still cached on Google).
That puts us right back where we started. No April fooling around: someone needs to do something about this. And soon.