An Oral History of the Greatest Al Pacino Performance Ever — His ‘Dunkaccino’ Rap in Adam Sandler’s ‘Jack and Jill’

‘Jack and Jill’ may not be anyone’s favorite Adam Sandler movie, but it does contain the greatest 50 seconds in the history of cinema
An Oral History of the Greatest Al Pacino Performance Ever — His ‘Dunkaccino’ Rap in Adam Sandler’s ‘Jack and Jill’

You generally won’t find Jack and Jill on many lists of the best Adam Sandler movies. (It has a three percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) Even less likely would be finding it on a list of anyone’s favorite Al Pacino movies. (It won a total of 10 Razzies.) And yet, Jack and Jill contains one of the funniest, most viral and random scenes in the history of film.

Jack and Jill is the 2011 comedy in which Adam Sandler plays Jack, an advertising executive who is pretty much like the real Sandler, as well as his obnoxious twin sister, Jill. The film is mostly about Jack and Jill rekindling their bond as siblings, but Jill also becomes the object of affection for Pacino, who plays himself. Sensing a marketing opportunity, Jack decides to use Pacino’s attraction to Jill to get him to star in a commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts, resulting in Pacino rapping in an ad for the Dunkaccino, a real-life drink from Dunkin’ Donuts that blended coffee and hot chocolate (until, at least, it was discontinued in 2023). 

The Dunkaccino scene has since taken on a life of its own as a meme, with many people mistaking it for a genuine commercial. But again, it’s not. It’s just a fantastic piece of comedy thought up by Robert Smigel, the legendary writer best known as the man behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

I recently caught up with Smigel, as well as some of the other creatives who worked on Jack and Jill, to discuss all things Dunkaccino, including the original drink they planned to use, the classic commercial that inspired the scene and just how committed Pacino was to the bit.

Steve Koren, co-screenwriter of Jack and JillThe original script for Jack and Jill was written by Ben Zook. Producer Todd Garner thought it would be great for Sandler. Sandler liked it, so we rewrote it together. After that, Tim Herlihy did a pass. After him, Robert Smigel did a pass. Robert didn’t get screen credit, but he contributed a lot of great stuff, including Dunkaccino.

Robert Smigel, co-screenwriter of Jack and Jill (uncredited): I was writing another movie for Adam — it was a completely different movie where Adam played a twin — and I was imagining Jennifer Aniston for the twin sister. I wrote a whole script about that, but he was writing Jack and Jill with Steve Koren and the studio preferred Jack and Jill. Then Adam asked me to do a big rewrite on it. My rewrite was primarily involving the Al Pacino character, fleshing out his role in the third act especially. 

When I came on, though, Pacino hadn’t been cast yet. He was hesitating, and Adam was like, “Let’s just go to his house.” How many people could get away with that? Just knocking on the door and saying, “Hey Al, what’s the deal?” Adam could because he has that incredible combination of being incredibly charming and funny and also being an incredibly powerful movie star. 

Anyway, Adam found out that Pacino was at home, and he brought me. Pacino was delighted to see Adam show up at his door, as many people would be. He let us in, and we had a great time. Pacino was incredibly charming. We went to dinner, and he started to get deeper into the script.

Al Pacino is obviously one of the greatest actors of the last 50 years, but he was also as much fun as anyone I’ve ever worked with. He completely threw himself into this movie. You would think an Academy Award-winning actor doing an Adam Sandler comedy might not take it very seriously, but he did. He had us come to his house and we’d start with the script, but then Adam and he would improvise. It was all about finding the character for him. I’d get phone calls from him at night. I saved those voicemails — “Robert, it’s Al, I had a thought about the Don Quixote aspect of it, please call me.” Everything about Don Quixote and Jill being his Dulcinea came from him. 

I just loved how much Pacino cared. He just emanated joy because he was so excited and committed to making his part as funny as it could be.

Dennis Dugan, director of Jack and JillPacino was all-in. When Pacino does King Lear in the park, he does it — same thing for The Godfather. Then he does this silly thing where he falls in love with Adam Sandler’s bizarre twin, and he’s exactly as committed. He took the comedy seriously, which you’ve got to do. 

Koren: Al Pacino took everything incredibly seriously and gave every scene he did 100 percent. It wasn’t just some silly thing to him. Also, being a former Saturday Night Live writer, it’s amazing to get a big star to make fun of themselves like that. It’s incredibly cool that Al Pacino was so willing to do that. Plus, he’s never hosted Saturday Night Live, so this is like the closest thing to what he could possibly do on that show.

Smigel: The Dunkaccino thing was just something I thought of while I was doing the rewrite. The whole premise was already there — that Adam worked at an ad agency and needed a famous actor for a corny product tie-in and the only way he’s able to get the guy is that he’s smitten by his twin sister. Dunkin’ Donuts wasn’t originally in the script though. The original idea was Starbucks, and the drink was Frappuccino. 

Every now and then, I’ve looked at the scene on YouTube, and there are a lot of comments that say, “If he’s changing his name to Al, shouldn’t it be Dunk Pacino?” The most perfect, goofiest concept would have been a song about Frappuccino — because it has the “p” — but Starbucks wasn’t interested. They didn’t have a sense of humor about cornifying their product. Whereas, with Dunkaccino, I don’t think Dunkin’ Donuts takes themselves quite as seriously as a place like Starbucks might. 

At the end of the day, it’s funnier that Al Pacino did a commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts. That way there’s no pretense that he ever thought this was a classy gig. 

I don’t remember the exact birth of the actual Frappuccino idea, though. In the script, there was some other corny juxtaposition, and when we got Pacino, Frappuccino became the obvious one — “I’m changing my name to Frap!” When I was a kid, Chapstick ran a series of ads with an Olympic champion named Suzy Chaffee, and in the commercials, she would say, “Call me Suzy Chapstick.” That’s probably what the inspiration was.

When I got to writing it, I thought, “What’s the corniest thing he could possibly do?” Well, any white person doing bad rap is up there. Then, sticking all his catchphrases in as though it’s supposed to be charming, but it’s incredibly cringey and sad, that was just for my own enjoyment. Al Pacino has been associated with so many catchphrases, and the idea of getting him to actually do this was head-spinningly exciting. Of course, he completely got it and went for it. 

Dugan: He knew the Pacino we wanted — the “hoo-aah!” guy.

Jamal Sims, choreographer on Jack and JillI knew I was doing an Adam Sandler movie, but I didn’t know the scene I was choreographing was with Al Pacino until after I was hired. It was a huge surprise, but it was also scary because Al Pacino isn’t known for being a dancer. I went and watched a bunch of Pacino movies to see how he walks and moves. I noticed that he has a certain physicality to him where he walks with his shoulders up — he’s kind of hunched over a little bit — so I catered the choreography to the way he moves naturally. Also, the song is hip hop, so I did it in a Broadway hip-hop style.

You never know what you’re going to get. You don’t even know if the actor is going to want to dance very much. But after I had a day of rehearsal with the dancers, Pacino came in to watch it, and he loved it: “Show me where you want me. Show me what you want me to do.” He was so game for anything. He was able to pick up the choreography pretty quickly, and he was into it! He had so much energy. He kept saying, “Let’s do it again!” 

Andy Goldenberg, actor playing Dunkin’ Donuts employee who says “Dunkaccino?” and Adam Sandler performance double in Jack and JillWe shot the Dunkin’ Donuts scene on January 27, 2011.

Dugan: That scene was filmed at the Sony studio lot. We built a Dunkin’ Donuts set. We had the big swinging donuts and stuff, so we had to have the space.

Smigel: They beautifully recreated Dunkin’ Donuts to the point where I couldn’t remember if we were actually in one. 

Goldenberg: When I walked on the set that day, it was like an actual Dunkin’ Donuts store. They even airlifted in fresh donuts.

Smigel: Dunkaccino was a very controlled bit. It was like filming a comedy sketch. There weren’t many variables. We knew where the jokes were; everybody knew how to perform it. All the extras knew how to deliver the lines in a super-corny, whitebread kind of way, and Al just sunk his teeth into it. I didn’t know he was that good a dancer! Working with him every day was a joy, but that day in particular was heaven. Writing that song and seeing him do it was one of my favorite moments in show business. 

Dugan: The first day of shooting with Pacino on Jack and Jill, we go in, we rehearse, then we shoot until Adam has what he wanted and I had what I wanted. Then I’d say “Okay, let’s move on.” So, first scene, first day, both Sandler and I have what we wanted, but Pacino shouts “No!” and the whole place gets real quiet. He smiles and goes, “One more for free. Who knows what we might get?” So we did one more. He did that every couple of weeks — he’d go, “One more for free.” 

We get to Dunkaccino, which was the last thing we did, and it was a lot of exercise and a lot of sweat and a lot of him dancing and stuff. But he kept going, “Let’s do it again!” He loved the dancing and the singing. I finally had to tell him, “We’ve got it!” I was afraid I was going to kill him.

Goldenberg: During one of the takes, Pacino flubbed a line or a dance move, and he jokingly said, “This is going to ruin me. I can’t believe you got me to do this.” It was like that scene in the movie right after the Dunkaccino scene where he says to Sandler, “Burn this.”

Smigel: It was very important to Pacino that we have that scene at the end where he was like, “Burn this.” He definitely wanted that in the movie. He didn’t want for it to end with him completely selling out, and we didn’t either. We thought the “Burn this” scene was very funny, and it was mostly improvised. 

Dugan: Pacino cracked Adam Sandler up in that scene. You can hear Sandler laughing in that — that’s just Sandler laughing at Pacino.

Smigel: I’m trying to think if there’s anything Pacino had any hesitation about. He purposefully overplayed it a bit — which I had no problem with. He made a point to do it slightly cornier than he would have had he really been paid to do it, just in case anyone were to think it’s real, if the scene was ever seen out-of-context, which, of course, it was. Funny enough, online, there are people who are like, “What is this? He did a commercial?” There are people who think that it’s real. 

Don Caldwell, editor-in-chief of Know Your Meme: As a meme, Dunkaccino became a big deal with a lot of people really appreciating it and remixing it in various ways. It became a fun scene on YouTube for people to be silly with the edits of. One of the best is Dunkaccino spliced in with Al Pacino winning an Oscar. 

It’s also funny because, if you look at the reactions to it on Reddit or YouTube, you’ll find all these haters ripping on Al Pacino for doing it, thinking it’s a real commercial, not even understanding that it’s from a movie. Then, way down in the comments, people are like, “You realize this is from a movie, right?” 

From the comments, it’s pretty clear a lot more people have seen the meme than the movie.

Goldenberg: It’s incredible that that scene keeps coming back. During the pandemic, there was a Twitter handle called Daily Dunkaccino that, every single day for a year, posted a re-edited version of the commercial.

Caldwell: Search queries for the term “dunkaccino” saw their largest spike in the past five years in March 2023, around the time the actual Dunkaccino was discontinued by Dunkin’ Donuts. Along with this came a number of articles remarking on the drink’s association with the Al Pacino meme, including those published by TodayThe Daily MailTime Out and The New York Post. The news also made its way to TikTok, where some creators lamented the demise of the drink and even asked, “Al Pacino, how could you let this happen?!”


Goldenberg: Then, this year, during the Super Bowl, Dunkin’ did that “DunKings” commercial with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and people were like, “What about Dunkaccino?”

Joe Oddo, a guy selling the donut-lined Dunkaccino jacket on eBay: After the production, Al Pacino’s donut jacket had been given away. The donut vest was lost, but in 2019 or 2020, I got the jacket from an auction and verified it was authentic through the prop master. Recently, I decided to throw it up on eBay to see if I could get a good deal on it. Jack and Jill may not be Pacino’s greatest film, but that Dunkaccino scene is funny as hell.

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