The Do Over is Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix-exclusive film, and it holds together a lot better than his previous effort, The Ridiculous Six. The gross-out gags and incomprehensible Nick Nolte cameos have been replaced by a solid story: Charlie McMillan (David Spade) is a middle-aged burnout whose life is full of depressing contradictions. He’s married the love of his life, but she’s still seeing her ex; he’s the manager of a bank, but it’s the one inside the local grocery store. Then he runs into his old friend Max Kessler (Sandler) at their high school reunion. Claiming to be an FBI agent, Max fakes their deaths in order to give Charlie the new start he was desperately seeking. Max and Charlie take on the identities of two recently deceased men. Luckily for them, these men had the key to a safety deposit box in Puerto Rico, loaded with cash. Rather less fortunately, these men also crossed some evil assassins before their demise – assassins who are now hot on Max and Charlie’s tail.
After that, more and more twists start piling up as the movie gear-shifts between genres, from goofy buddy comedy to action thriller to somber reflection on mortality. The plot threads can be a little hard to follow, especially since most of them revolve around two unseen characters who are dead before the story even begins, but Sandler and Spade’s partnership gives the whole enterprise enough emotional grounding to make up for it. That’s right, this Sandler film (which dials down the goofy gags but still involves bits about threesomes) actually pulls at your heartstrings a bit. Faking their deaths, and then constantly facing the possibility of real death as a result, causes Max and Charlie to rethink their lives.
The Do Over is a fairly standard action comedy, but the extremely low standard of recent Sandler work (from Jack & Jill to The Cobbler) makes that a relief. B–