After so much success with original television shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, BoJack Horseman, and Jessica Jones, it’s small wonder that Netflix would also want to expand their catalogue with original movies on top of that. The next step would obviously be to secure big celebrity billing to push a multi-part film deal, similar to the television deal they made with Marvel for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders. Netflix’s choice for such a spearheading of high-profile original film content? Adam Sandler!… Yeah, I don’t get it either.
Despite a moderately-sized following of fanatics, even Sandler’s seemingly untouchable box office fortunes have plummeted in recent years, particularly with 2012 disaster, That’s My Boy, only seeing a slight rebound with 2014’s Blended and this year’s Pixels, both of which still got scathing feedback from most critics and moviegoers. That’s also before Happy Madison stained competing digital streaming service, Crackle with the abysmal Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser this year, which was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of David Spade’s career. It seems odd that all of this would be a vote of confidence for Netflix, who signed a four-movie deal with Sandler and his Happy Madison studio, beginning with the recent release of The Ridiculous 6 as a high-profile Netflix Original Film, a comedy-western that Sandler had tried and failed to get green-lit at three different major movie studios. Again, it’s baffling as to why Netflix would see that as a vote of confidence.
If you’re getting the sinking feeling that this combination of Happy Madison and a comedy-western will inevitably result in a juvenile, lazy, frequently unfunny, and even rather racist disaster, then you’re obviously at least as smart as those three studios that rejected Sandler’s pitch, before Netflix gave it the green light. Sadly, or perhaps predictably, that is exactly what The Ridiculous 6 turns out to be. If you’re not part of Adam Sandler’s following, then the movie is a complete waste of time, and you should definitely skip it, especially if you value your precious brain cells.
Things kick off on an immediately shocking note, as we see Adam Sandler portraying a Native American protagonist, White Knife. Sandler is also about as convincing a Native American as you would imagine, which is to say, not very. To be fair, at least Sandler establishes that his character is a Caucasian man that was adopted by Indigenous people on the 1875 frontier, since even Sandler isn’t stupid enough to try and pass himself off as a natural-born Indigenous person. Mostly. Sandler still seems to think that all Indigenous people are supernatural fighters and magic users, but that’s only the beginning of the movie’s rather questionable portrayal of Native Americans.
Now, before I go further, I will say that I understand what Sandler was going for with The Ridiculous 6. He wanted to make a movie that mocked how ill-informed and racist old Western flicks truly were, with The Ridiculous 6 taking blatant inspiration from The Magnificent Seven in particular, among a few other Western classics. The problem is, Sandler and his crew are in way over their heads with this kind of material, and they don’t seem to understand what goes into truly effective satire. If you write and act out a bunch of personalities that merely parrot and exaggerate the same thing you’re aiming to satirize, then that’s just being the thing that you’re claiming to be satirizing. That’s worse, because it’s willful and deliberate, accentuating everything that’s wrong with your movie.
There’s plenty of things wrong with The Ridiculous 6 too, as you can imagine. Making the fact that Sandler’s team are blatantly in over their heads with this project worse, is the fact that it has an ensemble set of leads, none of which are properly developed beyond one or two-note jokes. Rob Schneider, once again taking the cake for being one of the worst characters in a movie full of bad characters, is a dirty Mexican stereotype, meaning that the casual racism isn’t limited to Native Americans, apparently. Schneider’s character, Ramon also has a burro with explosive diarrhea that it releases on command, because poops and farts are the funniest things in the world to the ten-year-old boys that Sandler primarily markets towards, or so he thinks.
Taylor Lautner is one of the movie’s other biggest characters meanwhile, and is a mentally handicapped person, and that’s the entire joke, because mentally handicapped people are hilarious to Happy Madison, no doubt endearing them to all prospective viewers here, something I say with the utmost of sarcasm. On the bright side, at least Lautner is actually acting in this movie for once, albeit badly.
The titular ensemble is then rounded off by Luke Wilson’s hard-drinking Danny, Jorge Garcia’s mute Herm, and Terry Crews’ good-natured Chico, who is ashamed to tell people that he’s black, because we haven’t had enough racist humour in the movie already. Good grief. Making this even worse is that Terry Crews is actually a talented comedy actor, and is way better than this movie, as evidenced by years of great turns on FOX sitcom, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, several amusing “Old Spice” ads, and hell, even the trio of Expendables movies!
As ludicrous and yet as unremarkable as the leads are though, the rest of the movie is stuffed with names, rather inexplicably. I understand the cameos by David Spade, Vanilla Ice and Jon Lovitz, in a poker scene that feels like it was only written to give the three of them something to do, but why are great actors and comedians like Will Forte, Harvey Keitel, Whitney Cummings, John Turturro, Chris Parnell, and Danny Trejo degrading themselves by being in this trainwreck?! Did they all owe Sandler favours?! Like Terry Crews, who was unfortunate enough to get a lead part, they’re all way better than this movie! Not all of them have small parts either. Will Forte headlines a gang of outlaws that methodically scoop out their right eyes for membership, and said gang shows up continually throughout the movie, mainly as a lazy plot device to keep the thin story moving forward. They actually almost have a funny running gag too, when they force Steve Zahn’s character, Clem, who is almost blind in his left eye, to scoop out the one eye that works to be an outlaw. Too bad most of the movie doesn’t do much with this.
I will also say that John Turturro actually has a standout cameo as well, portraying Abner Doubleday, in a genuinely funny re-telling of the Doubleday baseball invention myth that incorporates the title characters. This is the one point where The Ridiculous 6 actually becomes funny and clever, as Doubleday makes up seemingly inexplicable rules to secure victory against the opposing team of his made-up sport called “Sticky McSchnickens”, which obviously soon after evolves into the sport of baseball. In fact, you can maximize your entertainment value from The Ridiculous 6 by simply looking up this scene on YouTube, as it’s the only one that truly gets any real laughs.
By far the most shocking cast addition in The Ridiculous 6 however is Nick Nolte, who plays the loose father of the six half-brother leads (oh yeah, they’re all related, because Nolte’s character slept around rather indiscriminately), famous outlaw, Frank Stockburn. Nolte doesn’t have all that much screentime, but he’s a key character in the movie, since the band of outlaws led by Danny Trejo’s character will kill him, should he not find a stash of $50,000 that he buried somewhere. Apparently, Stockburn is trusting his favoured son, White Knife to find the money, with White Knife stumbling on his absurd cast of brothers along the way, to be bumbling outlaws, or brilliant outlaws. The movie can’t decide which.
It’s amazing that the cast of The Ridiculous 6 is as large as it is, especially since it leads to the movie quickly becoming overstuffed, and overlong, stretching itself to an agonizing two-hour runtime. Because there’s way too many characters, the movie almost unfolds like a bad sketch for most of the middle portion, but then goes back to having a feature film-style plot at the beginning and end. None of the personalities are well-developed beyond their one or two running jokes, and even if you can tell that most of the actors are having fun, Sandler himself is boring, despite supposing to be the head of the ensemble. It’s like even Sandler knows on some level that this fiasco is dead-on-arrival.
Despite the lengthy runtime and robust cast, the plot of The Ridiculous 6 is, naturally, not all that deep. The entire movie revolves around aging outlaw, Frank Stockburn tracking down his lost son, raised by the Apache tribe, and beseeching him to find a stash of $50,000, right as Frank is kidnapped by a particularly dangerous band of outlaws that will kill him, if they don’t get the money. As the son, called White Knife (and born Tommy Stockburn), tries to track down the money, he gradually discovers that he has five half-brothers of varying backgrounds, and the group decides to come together to find the money with each other’s help, in order to meet their long-lost father.
Like I said, the plot sounds like a thin excuse to string together the movie’s selection of lazy and frequently offensive humour. Even then, considering that Happy Madison so often skews to a younger, or at least less mature audience, who relish in lowest-common-denominator humour, why in the world would those people respond to a western backdrop? Westerns come from an older generation of movies, and chances are, most of Happy Madison’s target audience hasn’t seen them. That means that, even when The Ridiculous 6 does try to parody specific movies, those jokes will inevitably go over the heads of most viewers, since they no doubt haven’t seen the movies that inspired these parodies.
This leads to a feeling of The Ridiculous 6 being immediately mis-conceived, and that’s before it’s confirmed as lazy, mostly unfunny shlock. The entire movie just feels like a complete waste of time, devoid of laughs, or any real substance beyond the cheapest of apathetic silliness.
The Ridiculous 6 is helmed by Frank Coraci, another yes man director in the Happy Madison stables, best known for misfires like Click, Zookeeper, Here Comes the Boom and Blended most recently, and a couple of better movies like The Waterboy and particularly The Wedding Singer, which is arguably Coraci’s high point. It feels like Coraci is another Dennis Dugan-style director who simply allows Sandler to do whatever he wants on set, especially since Sandler wrote most of the movie’s script in this case. Yes, Sandler had a co-writer, regular Happy Madison scribe, Tim Herlihy, but it’s obvious who had the most creative control over The Ridiculous 6.
Worse still is that Netflix has a very hands-off approach to content production in contrast to major studios and TV networks, which means that Sandler is allowed to run even more wild on the set, making a bad movie even worse, since Netflix doesn’t provide the same oversight that other parties do. This leads to The Ridiculous 6 ranging wildly in comedic styles, and not really being consistent in the slightest, beyond almost every joke falling flat on its face. Its direction is barely-existent, and that derails the production even further at every turn.
After the bold and inspired Beasts of No Nation, The Ridiculous 6 feels like an enormous step backwards for Netflix’s aspirations of expanding into original films. Currently, it seems like the streaming service understands how to make good TV shows a lot better than how to make good movies, though hopefully, The Ridiculous 6 is an isolated incident. That would mean nixing the four-movie deal with Happy Madison however, which chances are, won’t happen.
If you love Happy Madison movies, then you’ll probably find the same low-brow ludicrousness to savour in The Ridiculous 6, but everyone else should steer clear of it, and avoid it like the plague. Putting the word, “Ridiculous” in the title does not give you a free pass to make lazy, unfunny and offensive garbage. Accentuating that something shouldn’t be taken seriously is not an excuse for a movie that so fatally misunderstands how to properly satirize something. Like I said, simply doing the same things with more reckless abandon and silliness isn’t satire. It’s just being the thing that you’re claiming to be spoofing.
Beyond one good scene, and some good actors that are slumming it for a cheque, there are absolutely no redeeming qualities in The Ridiculous 6. It was better off on the shelf that so many wiser movie studios condemned it to, for good reason. Hopefully, the next collaboration between Adam Sandler and Netflix aims at least a little higher than this dreck.
The Ridiculous 6 is a horrendously unfunny, shockingly lazy, and unforgivably offensive farce that aims to satirize the western genre, but instead becomes the very worst of it, monumentally setting back the original film designs of Netflix with its very existence.
THE GOOD STUFF
Some (wasted) good actors in some less awful scenes