Only the depths of procrastination and a general sense of exhaustion could make me watch The Ridiculous 6. Unfortunately those two things coalesced into an event where I decided that, for the benefit of others, I would watch this new movie and then warn people. This was a mistake.
Yes, American Indians walked off the set in disgust, and yes, the movie does have its fun with some casual racism and sexism, and yes, it is very much an Adam Sandler movie. All things people might have predicted with any foresight. The thing that really took me by surprise, though, is that even after the bad publicity, the film went on to be horribly, horribly, terribly, unforgivably dull.
I was hoping it would be fun to write a funny little review, but this movie was so bad, so uninspired, so completely not funny, that it just feels like taking a mostly dead horse around back for compassionate slaughter.
The story, such as it exists, goes like this: Sandler plays White Knife, a White man raised by the Apache. Like Superman in our yellow sun, he develops magical powers as a consequence of being raised by the Apache who don’t display anything similar. After an initial unnecessary and utterly boring scene in which he uses his magic powers to dispatch some enemies, his long-lost father appears and claims there is money buried nearby. The father is kidnapped and White Knife gets it into his head that because he can’t find the money, he should steal it from criminals. In going from heist to heist, he meets his half-brothers one by one, entirely by coincidence. All major problems are resolved by the lazy screenwriting tool that is his magical powers. Eventually he catches up to his father and his kidnappers and in a lackluster showdown uses his magic powers to vanquish his mortal enemy. In a twist you absolutely saw coming, his father then betrays his son, revealing that the kidnapping was a ploy to make money. After another yawnworthy showdown, the movie reaches its mandatory wedding epilogue.
I’m sorry if the synopsis seemed rushed, but I’m traumatized by how much time I wasted watching that movie and wanted my reliving of the experience to be over as quickly as possible. In case you can’t tell, the whole story is like a bag of marbles, a loose shell around a series of isolated events. Nothing in the story is consequential, because everything comes about through either magic powers or coincidence. The movie doesn’t let itself be funny, because everything is a contrivance with shit and pee-pee jokes filling in the gaps. I want to take a moment to be clear here: There is such a thing as unsophisticated comedy and I laugh at stupid shit all the time. This movie doesn’t even rise to the level of stupid shit. Stupid shit is the unattainable golden scepter at the top of a magical mountain in the farthest distance of a treacherous land for this movie.
The jokes aren’t just tired scatological humor, but the kind of humor that has no clue who it’s targeting. One second, someone is getting called an asshole and sex jokes are flying (well, more like waddling) out of the gate, and the next Adam Sandler is drinking out of a trough with his horse for the cheapest of cheap laughs. It’s almost like the movie cannot decide if it wants to be a kid’s movie or a more adult comedy.
This brings me to the lazy phoning-in of White Knife. Adam Sandler doesn’t even bother to rehash old characters as he tends to do with any movie he’s in. Mostly, he’s just kind of there. He may have been trying to channel the stereotype of the stoic Indian with a stony face, but what you get is really mostly the “I’m here, where’s my paycheck” face.
As for the accusations of racism, I think even the biggest deniers that racism exists ever will have a hard time doing the denial dance here. Mostly the old Indian Name Trope. The main character’s love interest is named Smoking Fox, there is a gross scene where one of the American Indians is approached by bandits and called “Beaver Breath,” to which her response was “How he know my name?” Then you have to endure the cringe-inducing fractious laughter of the bandits, “That’s her real name!” I mean, part of me really wanted to be offended, but another part of me just found the joke to be old and tired. I didn’t want to condemn it as much as I wanted to take it back to the hospice it escaped from and tell it to put its feet up.
This movie occasionally attempts to channel Blazing Saddles, when you really wish it wouldn’t. Still, one of the best (perhaps the only good) moment in the movie is when the obviously Black Terry Crews has just been united with his brothers. He points out to them that he’s half-black and that they might not have known this from his appearance, but that they should avoid racial slurs. I thought it was a funny joke. Half-Black is incongruously just Black in our society. That joke was the only high point in the movie.
Of course, for all intents and purposes, women are barely in this movie. They’re all just used as props and MacGuffins. I don’t think that all movies must include women as a matter of course. A movie about men in the British Navy aboard a ship in the 1600s might not have any and that’s fine given the setting. However, putting aside for just one moment the fact that they do comprise a significant segment of the population, and that there are (ostensibly) main characters who are women already in this movie, the sausage-fest that is this movie is really mostly head scratching. Even the love interest isn’t really seen in the movie. There’s even a part where one of the main characters sexually assaults someone to create a diversion.
Look, I’m not the Grand Arbiter of All Humor. Humor is inherently subjective and I’ll only ever be able to offer my opinion on the matter. Just for the sake of the fact that I believe that there are truly creative people out there, I’m going to say it might be possible to make an insightful joke about sexual assault. I’m not going to claim I know how to do it, just not ruling out the possibility. However, this kind of shit doesn’t even come close to having even the minimum modicum of respect for the topic to let it be shocking humor. It’s just supposed to be a cheap laugh.
Then there’s the whole genocide thing. It’s perfectly possible to tell a story set in Nazi Germany that is supposed to be a comedy. It’s a little insulting if that story doesn’t at least acknowledge the systematic extermination conducted by the Nazis. The movie is set in a period where American Indians were being forcibly evicted, killed, and where their resistance was met with brutality. It’s a comedy and doesn’t have to dwell on the topic, but it could have shown a little more respect than to simply portray a subset of characters as simple irrational racial supremacists. This was US government policy.
All in all, it’s a nightmare of a movie. I would pay not to watch it. Adam Sandler and everyone involved in the movie should be deeply ashamed of this terribad masterpiece. There’s so much more going on in this movie that I can criticize, but have lost the will to do so. I’d say watch it for yourself, but I care too much about your welfare to subject you to this. To completely reverse LeVar Burton’s famous saying: Please, I beg you, take my word for it.