The Ridiculous 6, Happy Madison Productions, 119 minutes, released on Netflix, December 2015
It was somewhat surprising that streaming behemoth Netflix signed a four-picture deal with critically maligned comedian Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison. It was less surprising (given Sandler’s particular brand of juvenile humor) that in spring 2015 at least a dozen American Indian actors angrily walked off the set of The Ridiculous 6—the first film in the partnership—citing the script’s misrepresentation of Apache culture. The final product is a cringe-inducing, mostly unwatchable Western comedy, with or without the help of its lazy ethnic stereotypes (Rob Schneider in brown face as the Mexican Ramon, whose best friend is a burro; Apache women with names like Never Wears Bra).
In this Frank Coraci–directed film a half-dozen half-brothers turn to crime to track down their outlaw father, Frank Stockburn (Nick Nolte). Sandler, who seems to split the difference between attempting a Texas accent and his deepest “Batman” imitation, leads the group as son Tommy Stockburn, an Apache-raised white man with knife skills (White Knife is his other name). The cast includes other familiar faces, many belonging to talented and successful actors. You wouldn’t know it by watching them here; it’s difficult not to feel embarrassed for them. On a positive note, catch two amusing cameos: John Turturro in a funny baseball scene as Abner Doubleday (the man who didn’t really invent the national pastime), making up the rules as he goes along; and Vanilla Ice, the 1990s rap artist and walking punch line, as Mark Twain.
At this point in Sandler’s career a viewer should know what he’s in for, and it isn’t The Magnificent Seven. Clem (Steve Zahn) scoops out his own eyeball with a spoon. Doc Griffin (Steve Buscemi) sticks his finger in a donkey’s anus and then proceeds to brush the teeth of Lil’ Pete (Taylor Lautner) with said finger. Smiley (Harvey Keitel) gets decapitated with a shovel, and then shoots up his own head as it rolls around on the ground. If these things make you laugh, there’s plenty more where that came from.