Written by guest contributor Dave Fox
The Western genre has made something of a comeback in recent years. The likes of True Grit, Django Unchained and Slow West have shown that there's appetite amongst audiences for a good gunslinging yarn. The Ridiculous Six, Adam Sandler's first film in a four picture deal with online streaming service Netflix, jumps on that bangwagon as an attempted spoof of the classic Western The Magnificent Seven, but fails as both a comedy and even a coherent film.
Sandler plays Tommy, a.k.a White Knife, a white man raised by the Apache tribe after his mother's death. The film's plot, such as it is, begins when his estranged father, the outlaw Frank Stockburn (Nick Nolte) is kidnapped by Cicero (Danny Trejo) over the matter of $50,000. Tommy vows to make the money back and win his father's freedom. He resolves to steal the cash from the dishonourable and ropes in his half brothers Ramon (Rob Schneider), Li'l Pete (Taylor Lautner), Herm (Jorge Garcia), Danny (Luke Wilson) and Chico (Terry Crews) along for the ride.
I tried to go into this with an open mind, but knowing the background to the film made it difficult. Before the film's release on Netflix, it was allegedly passed on by three different studios. It's easy to see why when the scripts reads as though it was written by a purile teenage boy. Two prominent running jokes are Native American names ("Beaver Breath" and "No Bra" spring to mind) and a donkey with diarrhea. Each one of the Stockburn brothers is a broad stereotype, be it Li'l Pete the backwoods hick or Ramon, the Mexican who talks a lot about tacos. Sandler, meanwhile, gives a confused performance . His Tommy is a classic mystical, philosophical Native American - he aims for Eastwood-esque stoicism but lands squarely on the same somnambulant, bored performance he's been phoning in for decades now.
The bright spots are few and far between. Nick Notle plays his role with a twinkly-eyed charisma that suggests he thought he was in a different film entirely; Harvey Keitel chews the scenery with gusto as a malevolent saloon owner and John Turturro channels Peter Sellers as Abner Doubleday, the man who invents the rules of baseball (which calls "Sticky McShnickens") as he goes along. The baseball scene is incongruous because it's easily the film's funniest moment, and has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. It's funny purely because of Turturro, too, who does all the heavy lifting opposite a dead-eyed Sandler.
Aside from those small shafts of light, there's not much else to recommend. The only other entertaining thing to do while watching The Ridiculous Six is to spot the cameos from actors that could do so much better. Nolte, Trejo, Keitel and Turturro are joined by Will Forte, Chris Parnell, Jon Lovitz, Steve Buscemi and Norm McDonald for an easy payday while David Spade makes his customary appearance. Oh, and Vanilla Ice plays Mark Twain, which is about as logical as anything else here.
If The Ridiculous Six proves anything, it's that Sandler isn't about to up his game for his Netflix contract. If his next three films are this bad, he could single-handledly sink the company's reputation for producing exceptional original content. This film wants to be Blazing Saddles, but can't even match up to Seth MacFarlane's uneven A Million Ways To Die In The West. The truth is that there are hundreds upon hundreds of films to choose from on Netflix - and I would bet this overlong, unfunny, borderline offensive mess is the worst.
The Ridiculous Six Director: Frank Coraci Writers: Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler Studio: Netflix Running time: 119 minutes Release date: 12/11/15