‘The Ridiculous 6’
Frank Coraci
Stars: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider
Rating: NR
2 (out of 5) Globes

We’re supposed to hate Adam Sandler, and with good cause. His movies have, with exceptions, always been terrible, and they’re getting worse. In “Pixels,” as in “Blended” and “Grown Ups 2,” Sandler could barely stay awake onscreen, as though annoyed he has to keep his empire chooglin’ at all. He’s not very present in “The Ridiculous 6” either, which should be (and, by many accounts, is) another awful, hubristic nail in his coffin. After all, it’s yet another in an odd (though perversely likable) genre: the bloated Western comedy, sending up a genre that hasn’t been consistently popular in four decades.

Yet “The Ridiculous 6” is, at times, sort of, if you let it, funny (occasionally). Does Vanilla Ice playing Mark Twain make you laugh? What about the rapper, in full white-boy swagger, shouting, “Make it rain like Twain!”? The jokes in “The Ridiculous 6” aren’t smart, and most of them aren’t even funny. But the best are so dumb — or better yet, so weird — they can, ideally, break down the defenses. The rest are the either so negligible they pass right into the part of the brain where memories go to die, or are so awful (read: a jackass prone to epic poo-splattering) you’ll feel shame for chuckling at the surreal image of the same burro dressed as Mary Todd Lincoln (long story).

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But there are so many jokes that even a low batting average means, with the finally tally, it still comes out so-so. Sandler has rarely put himself in “Airplane!” or Farrell-style joke-every-five-seconds mode, often coasting on lazy “character-driven” comedies where he and his friends can riff (or not even that) before drowning the whole enterprise in “heart.” With “The Ridiculous 6” he goes the “Expendables” route, seeing how many buds he can cram into a fairly elephantine two hour block of pure stuff.  

Sandler barely registers among the chaos, which is a good thing: As “White Knife,” an orphan paleface raised by Native Americans, he does a Clint Eastwood impersonation so sleepy he might just be drugged. Sandler drags “6” down anytime he does or says anything. But there’s plenty of others to take up the slack. White Knife is on a mission to rescue his kidnapped father (Nick Nolte) with the aid of his five half-brothers, who range from Rob Schneider’s Mexican to Terry Crews’ musician to Luke Wilson’s disgraced ex-secret service agent, who was on the can when Lincoln was shot. There are ringers as far as the eye can see, some former unlikely Happy Madison players like Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and even John Turturro.

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The latter nets “6”’s lone full-on terrific scene, playing a dandy who’s invented a game he calls “Sticky McShnickens” but which is actually baseball, with arbitrary rules he makes up on the spot when his skills proves weak. (When he keeps missing a hit, he says you get three, not two strikes; when he’s struck in the back, he gets to take first base; etc.) The rest is far more scattershot, though not always unpleasantly so, even in scenes where almost nothing hits. Comedy, more than any other genre, improves with age, and watching something as committed to being dumb as “The Ridiculous 6” is easy to loathe in the moment, when it’s released — just as critics of previous eras hated on the films of lowbrow legends like the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello. Their movies tended to have only slightly higher dud-to-yuk averages than this new Sandler product, but they look better in retrospect, when they’re not hitting theaters at a steady click and annoying critics grumpily obligated to review them. 

It’s not always easy, even with something as almost tolerable as “The Ridiculous 6,” to have that levity — to step outside the moment and consider that sometimes even the dreaded Adam Sandler can, every now and then, deliver a decent gag. “The Ridiculous 6” is the definition of spotty, and it criminally wastes the mighty Terry Crews. But even he gets a couple moments to shine, as does Taylor Lautner, as a giggly, gap-toothed simpleton. Lautner has eked out an odd post-“Twilight” living as the most game and sometimes even funniest guy in Adam Sandler movies. That’s a Pyrrhic victory, but at least here — even in a semi-likable Western spoof made by people whose only apparent knowledge of the genre is "Danes with Wolves" and “Back to the Future Part III” — it’s something to brag about.

"The Ridiculous 6" recently debuted on Netflix, which is kind of sad when you consider it actually cost $60 million to make.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge