Well. I liked the opening credits. There’s a hint of originality and spark.
And the closing credits — they were really cool.
The problem was the nearly two hours in between.
With solid production values, a supporting cast that includes everyone from Nick Nolte to Steve Buscemi to Taylor Lautner to Will Forte to Harvey Keitel, and a role that requires Adam Sandler to don an actual costume instead of just shuffling about in sweats or cargo shorts, “The Ridiculous Six” indicates something akin to a genuine effort on Sandler’s part to make us laugh.
It’s still a ridiculous waste of time.
This is the first release of the four-movie deal Sandler has with Netflix, and right now that’s looking a whole lot more like a threat than a promise. Directed with some style by Frank Coraci — as much style as one can bring to scenes involving a hip-hop version of Mark Twain or a burrito with a projectile diarrhea issue — “The Ridiculous Six” is sunk by a terrible script by Sandler and Tim Herlihy and some truly cringe-inducing work by a few of the players.
“The Ridiculous Six” made headlines last spring when a Native American cultural advisor and several Native American bit players and extras walked off the set to protest reportedly offensive scenes and characters.
Yeah, one can see that, given Sandler is playing a white man named White Knife, a.k.a Tommy, who speaks like a 1940s-movie version of the American Indian because he grew up with a tribe of Native Americans, including Screaming Eagle (Saginaw Grant), who is like a father to Tommy.
One of the women in the tribe is named Never Wears a Bra, because — well, you get it. In the world of “The Ridiculous Six,” Native Americans whoop it up and dance at night, and don’t seem to do much of anything in the day other than wait around for White Knife/Tommy to bring them supplies.
Tommy has mystical powers, including the ability to move at the speed of light, turn himself into a tumbleweed and literally castrate a buzzing fly with a knife. Sure. Why not.
Nick Nolte, lumbering about with stringy white hair and bellowing his lines as if he’s doing “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway, plays Tommy’s long-list biological father, the career criminal Frank Stockburn. The dastardly Frank was long gone by the time Tommy’s mother was murdered in cold blood — but he has come to Tommy to make amends.
Ah, but then Frank’s former gang kidnaps him and hauls him off on a 10-day ride to the spot where Frank says he stashed away the loot he stole from the gang. Tommy sets off to save his pop, and along the way meets his five-half brothers, played by Terry Crews, Jorge Garcia, Luke Wilson, Rob Schneider and Taylor Lautner.
Garcia plays a mute brute of limited intelligence. Schneider plays a Mexican — dubious casting at best. Wilson and Crews are likable performers playing caricatures.
As for Lautner: He plays Lil’ Pete, a mentally challenged character, and if that sounds awful, there were times when I was wishing for mere awful. It is the kind of sour, offensively unfunny, big-swing-and-a-miss performance that requires a metaphorical bath in tomato juice to get the stink off before one can resume one’s career.
Steve Buscemi’s scenes as a quack who’s always sticking his hand in something are career lows. Will Forte, Jon Lovitz, Whitney Cummings, Steve Zahn, Chris Parnell, John Turturro and a dozen other familiar faces do what they can with parts barely more fleshed out than a “Saturday Night Live” character.
Every 20 minutes or so, we get a set piece with some decent laughs, e.g., Luke Wilson’s character’s unique take on what happened the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. But then it’s back to a bestiality sight gag, or a bad guy getting covered in excrement, or Vanilla Ice playing Mark Twain, or Sandler doing terrible line readings.
Thanks for nothing, Netflix.
Netflix presents a film directed by Frank Coraci and written by Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler. No MPAA rating. Now showing on Netflix.