‘Jack and Jill’ plays to Adam Sandler fans

MYSTERIOUS FORCES in the universe today conspire to bring us major Hollywood movies featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler wearing dresses.

DiCaprio is playing J. Edgar Hoover, enough said, while Sandler is playing brother and sister in "Jack and Jill," a movie in which the comedian goes up a hill to fetch a pail of money.

"Jack and Jill" is one of Sandler's occasional offerings to that portion of his audience who's crazy for fart jokes - preteen, male, probably still laughing at the fart jokes in "Just Go With It."

These movies tend to drive critics crazy, because Sandler does not challenge himself, because he grabs the first gag within reach, because everybody knows he can do better.

Including Sandler, who acknowledged (playing a version of himself) in "Funny People" that he has a weakness for high-concept, low-execution comedies.

But Sandler also knows his audience, and his fart movies do tend to make great piles of money - "Grown-ups" made $163 million dollars, about $20 million more than "The King's Speech."

And they also provide employment for an entourage of buddies and pals who otherwise would not be highly sought after in Hollywood. With jobless rates still hovering near 10 percent, we should thank Sandler for putting so many people to work.

Of course, none of this explains what Al Pacino is doing in "Jack and Jill," playing himself, situated at the very center of the plot. He falls for Jill, the female Sandler, whose adman brother Jack is trying to persuade Pacino to star in a doughnut commercial.

This is ironic. The movie makes a joke of the very idea of Oscar-winning Al starring in a doughnut commercial, but since this plot thread is a massive product placement for Dunkin' Donuts, it really does place Pacino in the middle of a doughnut commercial.

That's more sad than funny, and "Jack and Jill" in general ranks near the bottom of his collaborations with director Dennis Dugan ("Grown-ups," "Just Go With It," "Don't Mess with the Zohan," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.")

It feels a little lazy, like Dugan and Sandler didn't work hard enough to iron out the premise. Jack and Jill, for instance, are fraternal twins raised in the same Queens, N.Y., home, but they have completely different accents, occupy different cultural worlds, have different value systems.

Jill does OD on chimichangas, however, leading to a scene in which Jack must open three windows to avoid being asphyxiated.

Sometimes, Sandler breaks new ground.

Sometimes, wind.

Jack and Jill

Directed by Dennis Dugan. With Katie Holmes, Katelyn Pacitto, Natalie Gal, Dana Carvey, Valerie Mahaffey, Allen Covert, Adam Sandler, Regis Philbin, Al Pacino, Tim Meadows. Distributed by Sony Pictures.

Running time: 1 hours, 31 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG (for crude material including suggestive references, language, comic violence and brief smoking).