The Ridiculous 6 (2015) / Comedy-Western
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor throughout, language and some strong comic violence/disturbing images.
Running Time: 119 min.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Taylor Lautner, Nick Nolte, Jorge Garcia, Will Forte, Luke Wilson, Terry Crews, Steve Zahn, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Julia Jones, Danny Trejo, David Spade, Vanilla Ice, Jon Lovitz, John Turturro, Nick Swardson, Blake Shelton, Whitney Cummings, Jared Sandler
Small role: Chris Parnell, Norm MacDonald, Dan Patrick
Director: Frank Coraci
Screenplay: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler
Review published December 12, 2015
The Ridiculous 6 is the first in Adam Sandler's (Pixels, Hotel Transylvania 2) four-picture agreement between Happy Madison Productions and online streaming powerhouse Netflix, the latter of which has once again used its adherence to their top-secret audience metrics to determine what their subscribers watch and enjoy most. The film met with some controversy before its release for its portrayal of "Injuns" (as they are called in the film), which caused some of the Native American extras to leave the set, and while it is quite a setback (the Apaches have stereotypical names like, "Never Wears Bra", "Beaver Breath", and "Smoking Fox"), Sandler and co-screenwriter Tim Herlihy (Mr. Deeds, Little Nicky) do try to temper it by making the "white man" the brunt of most of the ethnic humor, though perhaps the metrics also reveal that Netflix audiences love broad and insensitive stereotypes.
Sending up such classic ensemble Westerns as The Magnificent Seven, it's a fairly standard Adam Sandler farce, which means that if you're still a fan, you'll probably like it, but if you've never had a taste for the juvenile tastelessness of many Happy Madison produced films, you'd do best to avoid it altogether. It's very dumb, very lazy, but not without some genuinely funny moments, perhaps enough to justify sitting through some very crass humor, and a rather lengthy build-up to finally get to the choicer bits when better comedic players than Sandler enter the scene and he tales more of a backseat to the zany ensemble, which is for the best, given that he seems to be trying the least among them to deliver a humorous performance.
Sandler stars as Tommy Stockburn, who, as a young lad, was adopted by a tribe of Native Americans as "White Knife" after his mother is killed by an unknown man with a tattoo on one of his hands. White Knife grows up to be a Ninja-like Indian warrior, finally able to meet his biological father, Frank Stockburn (Nolte, A Walk in the Woods), shortly before a gang of outlaws abducts him so that he can show them where he's purportedly hidden a stash of $50,000 he had stolen. White Knife decides to follow suit, and along the way, he encounters five more of his half brothers, illegitimate children of Frank Stockburn, who join him on his quest to save the dad they never knew.
The sophomoric gags you expect from Sandler and company are all here, including a burro with explosive projectile diarrhea, eyeball gouging, third nipples, playing the piano with one's penis, sex with cantaloupes, mild bestiality, and an unhygienic doctor (Buscemi, Monsters University) who keeps sticking his ointment-covered hands into some gross places before putting those unwashed fingers in his own mouth. Anachronisms abound when it comes to the history, which is par for the course for such a sloppy comedy, I suppose. For instance, Mark Twain (Vanilla Ice, Cool As Ice) is a character that hobnobs with General George Custer (Spade, The Benchwarmers), who died in 1876, when Twain was but 41 years old, and yet he looks like a very old man. There's even a reference to his book, "The Prince and the Pauper", which wasn't published until 1881, several years after Custer's death. John Turturro (Fading Gigolo) plays Abner Doubleday, who is seen as inventing the game of baseball (which he's dubbed as, "Sticky McShnickens") with Chinese laborers, though the rules of baseball, which he's supposedly making up as he goes along, had been established shortly after the time of Twain's birth.
Yes, it's overlong by at least a half hour, with an ending that goes on seemingly forever, probably in an effort to shoehorn in as many celebrities as Sandler could call together (and the list could rival most of the "Muppet" features). There are some very surprising comedic turns by actors you wouldn't expect to deliver, including Harvey Keitel (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a former associate of Frank Stockburn, Steve Zahn (The Good Dinosaur) as a daffy exotropic outlaw, and, my personal favorite, Taylor Lautner (Twilight), who goes all out to play the dumbest guy of them all, Lil Pete, and almost single-handedly opens me up to the comedy hijinks within with an hilarious performance you never knew he had in him. Nolte shows he might be the best actor of the group by actually delivering a genuinely nuanced performance as the wandering Frank. Go-to guy Frank Coraci (Blended, Click) , who has directed on many Sandler vehicles in the past, finds a comfortable fit with Sandler's material, and keeps the sizable cast of egos corralled in everything but the run time.
Perhaps my soft-spot for Westerns has softened up my spot for Western spoofs, as now I've modestly enjoyed two critically lambasted examples from the last year, if you include Seth McFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West. Both films are fairly lazy as comedies go, but they do manage to draw out laughs once you're in their wavelength, and The Ridiculous 6 manages to score enough laughs with me to have found it an entertaining guilty-pleasure experience. The movie does live up to its name by being ridiculous, in both the good and bad sense of the word, so your mileage will certainly vary in how tolerant you are regarding Sandler's immature outlook to comedy, and in how long you can take it in one dose. Luckily, as it's on Netflix instead of cinemas, you can always stop and come back later after you'd had your fill.
©2015 Vince Leo