No, the story does not offer useful guidelines on how one can revert to one’s youth, as the title suggests, but creates a set and setting in which time magically moves at a fraction of the normal rate. Surely this movie must be almost over, you think, as you jab the pause button on your remote – only to find you are at the 50-minute mark with another 58 to go. It’s a remarkable feat, as so little else in this picture has anything noteworthy happening at all.
It starts out simple, but moderately amusing. Charlie McMillan (David Spade) is a milquetoast loser who bumps into his old, cooler friend Max Kessler (Sandler) at a high school reunion. McMillan wears the same nerdy clothes and drives the same awful car and even holds the same humiliating job he did in high school: working in a bank inside a supermarket. (Old ladies ask him where they can find kitty litter. After explaining, again, that the bank is independent from the market, he sighs, reduced to his fate: aisle two.)
McMillan is stuck in a rut. His faithless wife is still shacking up with her ex, but McMillan is raising their bratty twin sons. Kessler, a slightly toned down version of Sandler’s hard-partying jerk persona as seen in That’s My Boy (a film some are brave enough to admit is not that bad), convinces McMillan to come hang out on his yacht one weekend. (Kessler works for the FBI, so he’s got a boat. Why not?)
After introducing a Bud Light Party Ball (“Put your ear next to it and you can still hear someone puking at a Def Leppard concert!”) the pair unwind. A musical montage of fun includes shouting “Show us your tits!” to a neighboring boat of (in the parlance of the film) “hotties” who comply, then respond: “Show us your dick!” The ladies take one look at what McMillan is packing and shout “Boo!” so Kessler fires a flare at them, forcing them to dive overboard.
This is, depending on your point of view, even-handed good-natured ribbing or gross male hostility. Whatever your decision, know this: it comes during the “good” plot-light and schtick-heavy part of the movie. (Unlike director Steven Brill’s last picture, the quite spry Blake Edwards-ish Elizabeth Banks vehicle Walk of Shame, The Do-Over becomes completely unraveled once things get complicated.)
Kessler has a plan, you see. He blows up the boat, enabling the two to fake their own death. Won’t authorities look for bodies? They will but, as it turns out, Kessler doesn’t work for the FBI – he is a coroner, and had access to two age-appropriate corpses that no one will miss. Kessler and McMillan can assume their identities and start a new life.
Kessler maxed out his credit cards and has enough dough for them to float for a while, but there was also a safety deposit box in the rectum of one of the two men, you see. This leads to an enormous cache of cash and the keys to a mansion in Puerto Rico. “There’s like five houses in this house!” McMillan (now called Dr Fishman) shouts with glee.
On permanent vacation (“Play Who Let The Dogs Out!”, McMillan drunkenly suggests at a resort bar) there’s dancing and hookups, one of which involves a bit of homosexual panic when sweat from Luis Guzmán’s scrotum drips all over David Spade’s glasses. The gay jokes (and there are many) come encased in layers of “not that there’s anything wrong with it!” disclaimers, but one has to wonder why this is such a recurring theme. Another source for yuks: libidinal geriatric Renée Taylor, whose topless scene will similarly land as either cruel or “all in good fun” depending on where your personal line is drawn.
The frivolity comes to an end, though when an acrobatic German hitman comes calling. I mean, they are living in luxury in the Caribbean, clearly the men whose lives our heroes stole are involved in either drugs or weapons, so the second half of the movie becomes a would-be Statham-like actioner. The plot, which now involves the real Dr Fishman’s widow (Paula Patton), is convoluted, but it’s not worth worrying too much about. It’s not like they’re curing cancer.
Oh, but they are! In a second-act reveal it’s discovered that our two doofuses have stumbled into an enormous corporate conspiracy to repress a miracle cancer drug. No amount of shouting “do over!” at the screen can turn the plot around, as it suddenly becomes a quasi-serious thriller to save mankind. With Sandler and Spade. On a direct-to-Netflix budget.
Despite an idiocy metastasized into the marrow of its script impervious to any radiation, there is, as with many of Sandler’s productions, at least something of an upbeat quality to its reprehensibility. While scoping out his own funeral he sees an Asian man. “My dry cleaner showed up?” It’s a creaky, racist joke, but then there’s the follow-through. “I didn’t see that one coming,” he mumbles. And then, brightly, “I love that guy!” This movie is nothing if not begging for you to reconsider it.
This article was written by Jordan Hoffman, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 31st May 2016 22.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010