Al Pacino is widely regarded as one of the greatest living actors. In a career spanning nearly half a century, Pacino’s starred in some of the best movies ever made, been nominated for countless awards, and is one of just 24 people ever to win the Triple Crown of Acting (winning a competitive acting Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award).
Yet, despite a career marked by incredible achievements and accolades, there’s a rotten tooth in the mouth of Pacino’s career. A foetid canker of a film that’s widely considered to be one of the worst ever made. We’re talking, of course, about the alleged comedy movie Jack and Jill.
Boasting a rather generous 3% on Rotten Tomatoes, Jack and Jill stars Adam Sandler as Jack, an advertising executive who has to try and get Pacino (playing himself) to star in an advert for Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s just one problem: Pacino (unsurprisingly) doesn’t want anything to do with the ad or Jack. Luckily for Jack, his twin sister Jill (also Sandler) is coming to town, and Pacino, for whatever reason, is hopelessly in love with her.
Thus begins an intolerable 91 minutes of mean-spirited, crude, and downright offensive jokes where we see Jack manipulating his sister and Pacino in an attempt to get his commercial made.
In case it’s not clear, I really don’t like Jack and Jill. While it might not be Sandler’s worst film, it’s hard to think of a movie that better demonstrates his cinematic vices. It’s stuffed with product placement, random celebrity cameos, and an unearned schmaltzy ending. The general joke of the film is ‘wouldn’t it be mad if Sandler wore a dress’ – hardly the gag Sandler and his co-writer Steve Koren think it is.
Yet as much as I loathe Jack and Jill, there’s one scene in it that, for whatever reason, holds powerful sway over me: the Dunkaccino advert. Barely even existing as a scene in the film, the ad is a button at the end of the movie in which we see Pacino and Sandler watch the commercial they’ve made for Dunkin’ Donuts.
The short fictional advert shows Pacino wandering into a Dunkin’ Donuts to the shock of the servers. As they hoot and holler that Al Pacino is in their store, he proudly declares, “it’s not Al anymore; it’s Dunk”.
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The entire restaurant then erupts into a song celebrating the newly christened Dunkaccino while Pacino does a surprisingly lively dance with two men dressed as a coffee cup and a doughnut. The whole sequence is a surreal and uncanny monument to unabashed product placement.
Honestly, though, words do not do it justice. The Dunkaccino needs to be experienced, not described. If you’ve never seen it before, I urge you to watch it. There’s no need to commit to the whole film. Just search Dunkaccino on YouTube and bathe in the majesty of the man who brought Michael Corleone to life talking about his “chocolate blend”.
I should warn you that Dunkaccino has a poisonous effect on the brain. I recently watched The Godfather: Part 3 and kept expecting Pacino to strip down to his doughnut covered waistcoat as he swanned about the gardens of the Vatican.
Now, critics at the time joked that starring in Jack and Jill should have seen Pacino stripped of his Oscar and retroactively edited out of The Godfather Trilogy. However, I’m going to say I think the Dunkaccino scene saved Pacino from movie jail, and demonstrated exactly why he’s one of our greatest living thespians.
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Why? Well, he commits so wholeheartedly to the entire sequence. I’d argue it proves what a great actor he is. A lesser performer would have sleepwalked their way through the dance – presumably knowing they would get the only thing sweeter than a Dunkin’ Donuts pastry at the end, a big ol’ paycheck. Not Pacino, though. He goes all-in, bringing the same level of passion to the sequence he brought to Heat’s diner scene.
Does it matter to him that changing his name to Dunk would mean he was called Dunk Pacino, not Dunkaccino? Absolutely not! Is he bothered that he’s butchering some of his most iconic lines to get people to consume an unhealthy amount of sugar? Not in the slightest. Basically, when you pay for Pacino, you get the whole thing. It doesn’t matter what the project is. That’s seriously laudable.
I think some praise has to be given to the writing as well. They manage to cram a lot of Pacino references into about 30 seconds. By my count, we get references to Dog Day Afternoon, City Hall, Scent of a Woman, The Godfather: Part 2, and Scarface.
I’m sure there are others I’ve missed, but Dunkaccino’s a bit like the Sun. You can’t stare at it for too long without going blind. I truly believe that if as much effort had been put into writing the rest of the film as the 30-second ad, maybe they could have scraped a 5% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
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The sequence also leads to the one genuinely funny joke in Jack and Jill when Pacino tells Sandler to burn the Dunkaccino ad, and that they must find everyone who’s ever seen it before they bring down his career. It’s gloriously deadpan and very appropriate because Jack and Jill is a film that should have been burned before release.
While it’s hard to argue with the notion that Jack and Jill is Pacino’s worst film, I think we have to respect a man who can so confidently make something as glorious as Dunkaccino. Now never do it again, Pacino… please.