The first of four Adam Sandler movies to be released under a deal with Netflix, the parody western "The Ridiculous 6" went live on Friday morning, taking its case straight to the streaming world, theaters be damned.
Sandler plays the superheroic White Knife, born Tommy Stockburn, raised by Apaches after the murder of his mother. His outlaw father, Frank (Nick Nolte), arrives at the village where Tommy lives to announce that he has reformed and is dying. They bond. Then Frank is kidnapped by bandits.
On the way to assembling and delivering a ransom, Tommy discovers he has five half-brothers (played by Luke Wilson, Jorge Garcia, Terry Crews, Taylor Lautner and Rob Schneider, as a Mexican), who join his quest. (It's a little bit "The Wizard of Oz.") The loaded cast also includes Steve Zahn, Harvey Keitel, Danny Trejo, Steve Buscemi, Chris Parnell, David Spade and Will Forte. Vanilla Ice plays Mark Twain as Vanilla Ice. In the film's best passage and performance, John Turturro is Abner Doubleday, inventing baseball to suit his own poor skills.
Women, when they appear, are mostly decoration. Native American actress Julia Jones plays Tommy's betrothed, Smoking Fox; comedian Whitney Cummings has a few lines and a low-cut dress.
The jokes are often juvenile and gross, unsophisticated and insensitive, but one does not wish to strike juvenility or grossness or even insensitivity outright from the comic tool kit; these just aren't all that good. There is a running gag involving a defecating burro. There is decapitation humor.
With the film's comic-book action and abundance of adults acting dumb, the ideal viewer would seem to be a 10-year-old boy whose parents aren't worried he'll understand the more pointed or twisted sexual references. It's a Bowery Boys picture but naughty.
Sandler, in leading-man mode, leaves most of the gags to others. He's an odd presence. There's something in his bearing that strikes one as dark and melancholic — not just the character but a kind of innate metaphysical heaviness he brings to his pictures that is not dispelled even in triumph.
'The Ridiculous 6'