‘The Do-Over’ Is a Bad Movie But It’s a Pretty Decent Budweiser Commercial About Finding a Cure for Cancer
The following post contains SPOILERS for The Do-Over. Yes, if you are worried about spoiling Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix movie, do not read this piece. Also, if you’re worried about spoiling Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix movie, I want you to take a good long look in the mirror at yourself and really think hard about your life choices.
The Do-Over is an accurate title. The film is about a couple of middle-aged men, played by Adam Sandler and David Spade, who fake their deaths and assume new identities. Life has dealt them bad hands and they dream of wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch, hence The Do-Over.
That’s not the most accurate title the film could have, though. The most accurate title the film could have would be Budweiser Presents Adam Sandler Discovers the Cure for Cancer. But maybe that’s tougher to fit into one of those little boxes on the Netflix home page.
Yes, so the do-over in The Do-Over is a bit of a red herring. Yes, Sandler’s Max and Spade’s Charlie fake their deaths and assume the identities of two guys whose bodies supposedly turned up in the morgue. But once Max and Charlie respectively become “Butch Ryder” and “Dr. Ronald Fishman” and settle into the dead men’s lives in Puerto Rico, the movie veers off into unexpected territory involving, yes, the cure for cancer. Before that happens, though, The Do-Over contains no less than four ads for Budweiser and its affiliated products in its first 25 minutes.
Max and Charlie initially reconnect at a high school reunion. After Charlie gets humiliated by his wife (because almost all of the women in this movie are sex-crazed lunatics or shrews or both), Max tries to cheer him up. “If I remember correctly,” he says, “Charlie McMillan always loved himself a Bud Light.”
Oddly, while Max claims Charlie is the one who could never turn down a Bud Light, it’s Max who winds up drinking one in this scene. Do product placement contracts specify which movie star will drink from which bottle?
A few minutes later, after Max and Charlie have caught up on their respective troubles, Charlie sits and ponders their conversation. He takes a swig from a Corona (a brand owned, like Budweiser and Bud Light, by AB InBev), then puts the bottle down, which then dissolves to ... a straight-up ad for Corona, I guess? Which Charlie has as the wallpaper on his computer at work? Because Charlie prefers his dreams to be sponsored by beer companies?
After much deliberation, and after his wife leaves on a spa vacation without him, Charlie decides pay Max a visit on his boat. Guess what he has waiting for him!
This box of beer becomes the centerpiece of the entire scene. “That is not a Bud Light Party Ball!” Charlie exclaims. “If you put your ear to it just right, you can still hear someone puking at a Def Leppard concert,” Max replies. What’s funny about Adam Sandler caressing a keg of Bud Light? As Rainer Wolfcastle once said, that’s the joke.
After Max shoots a flare gun at a couple of girls in bikinis who make fun of Charlie’s tiny penis (girls, amirite?), the duo fake their deaths. At first Charlie is horrified, but after he remembers his wife is a horrible human being, he warms up to the idea of a do-over. Anyway, guess what Max is drinking when Charlie comes to see him during his fake funeral!
Yep, nothing like spying on your own funeral through binoculars while sipping on a can of the ol’ Budweiser! The movie is less than a half hour old, and at this point it seems to be about a pair of old buddies faking their deaths so they can spend every waking moment drinking beer together.
For sheer quantity of product placement, you can’t beat The Do-Over’s first third. For quality of product placement, though, you’ve got to wait a while, until after it’s revealed that the movie’s entire plot is about a magical cure for cancer. And, no, the cure for cancer is not Bud Light. (Although that would have been a fitting twist.)
After a series of plot twists so convoluted and nonsensical they make The Big Sleep look like Goodnight Moon, it turns out Max’s wild plan to fake his death was not just a scam hatched by an irresponsible man-child. Nor was his choice of the Butch and Ronald identities coincidental. As it turns out, Max is dying of cancer. He had been receiving experimental treatments for the disease from Dr. Fishman — until Fishman and Butch were murdered by thugs sent from a chemotherapy company looking to squash the competition.
It takes a while for Charlie to realize Max has cancer. When he finally does, he has a series of rapid-fire flashbacks to earlier scenes in the movie, when Max dropped subtle clues about his condition. That includes a moment where Max mentioned how sad it is when children grow up without their fathers — which was the same moment he had that first Bud Light at the high school reunion:
In other words, this movie has a flashback to product placement. And not just any flashback to product placement, but a plot-motivated cancer-related flashback to product placement. Even for the guy who once had used a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial starring Al Pacino as the climax of a movie, this is new and impressive territory in the field of quasi-subliminal advertising.
Also impressive? Michael Chiklis’ total lack of vanity in his brief role as a man who screams and wields a bat.
As a movie, The Do-Over is borderline unwatchable. It is a comedy with almost no jokes, except those that involve making fun of gay people or the threat of anal rape, and it ends with a sight gag stolen from There’s Something About Mary, a film that is now almost 20 years old. But as a 100-minute commercial for beer? It’s kind of impressive.
(Oh, it’s also a decent commercial for Nikes. A major plot point involves a cool pair of Nikes that Sandler wants. They look nice.)