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Movie Review: Just Go with It

February 11, 2011

The film’s title, Just Go with It, may appear to be a description of the plot, but it could just as easily be applied as a message to the audience. If you plan on going to see this movie, don’t think about it too much and “just go with it”.  The film is the most recent product of “Happy Madison,” Sandler’s production company, whose reputation  is so abysmal that none of its 23 features have received a “fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. I highly doubt that this film will alter that statistic. However, it is certainly not the foulest of the bunch.

While I can’t remember the opening shots of the movie, the first visuals that I do recall is that of a giant, poorly applied prosthetic nose. I bring this up, not because it is particularly funny or that it served any purpose to the plot, but because it is this kind of ridiculousness that drives a lot of the humor in the film. Adam Sandler plays Danny Maccabee and the nose was attached to him. In a flashback scene, he leaves his own wedding, brokenhearted, after learning about his fiancée’s unabashed infidelities. He winds up in a bar with a faux wedding ring around his finger and learns something that changes his life. Apparently, being married helps men pick up chicks. He loses the nose, becomes a plastic surgeon and a libertine of sorts, all with the help of his wedding ring. The women he catches don’t appear to have a shred of intelligence, but they do all seem to be hot and this serves Danny’s relationship aspirations for roughly the next twenty years.

Then, he meets, Palmer, the girl of his dreams and instantly wants to change his ways. She is played by model Brooklyn Decker who is very young, very hot, and very blonde. Also, she looks very good in a bikini, which I only mention because it is apparently one of her character’s strongest assets. It is repeated multiple times throughout the film’s duration. When she accidentally discovers that he is “married” her reaction is not as positive as the girls he usually meets and she dumps him after one night. Desperate to win her back, he realizes that the truth makes him look quite pervy and instead, he determines that to create a lasting relationship, he must lie. In this lie, he creates a wife, a couple of kids, and a boyfriend for the wife, who sports a pipe and something resembling a German accent.

This fabricated wife creates a love triangle and who better to play her than the aspiring rom com queen herself, Jennifer Aniston. She is named Kathleen Murphy and is a divorcee with two kids and kind, warm demeanor. I won’t pretend that there is a lot of depth to her character beyond that, but she and Danny do have a repertoire that shows longevity, compatibility and maybe just a little charisma. Through a series of unimportant events, the whole extended family winds up vacationing in Hawaii to soak up some sun and create more webs of deceit.

Now here comes the shocker… I honestly didn’t mind this movie. Based on plot, depth of character and a sheep gag that I honestly hope I never have to experience again, I openly admit that this is not a good film. I did, however, find myself snickering more than once and there were a couple of moments where I found myself sort of caring about the characters. I feel that this has very little to with the writing and more to do with the brevity that can come from movie stars who spend the entirety of their careers being typecast. For instance, people go see an Adam Sandler movie to watch Adam Sandler be Adam Sandler. The same could be said for Jennifer Aniston, who has made a career playing variations of her role as Rachel Greene on the 90s TV sitcom, Friends. Both actors have a tendency to become stagnant with this redundancy in their filmography, but their personas seem to be trying extra hard to save this film. While Kathleen and Danny’s personalities are flatter than most IHop pancakes, the audience already has a rolodex of traits from previous roles to pull from. Aniston and Sandler fall into these roles with ease and I was excited to see both of them play grown ups. He plays loving father, or faux-father, convincingly every time he attempts it. This is possibly because he behaves like a 12 year old most of the time, but it consistently works. And as for Aniston, I was just happy to see her play a role that was near her age and had a minimum of cleavage.

The problem with the film was not the romantic leads, but instead everyone around them. The girlfriend, Palmer, who wins Danny over is revealed to love not only him, but also N’Sync. This is a tactic used to show her youthfulness, but ironically only shows the writers’ age. No self-respecting 23 year old would admit to loving N’Sync even if it was their favorite band in grade school. Her character is paralleled with Danny’s best friend (Nick Swardson), who pretends to be Kathleen’s German boy-toy, but he is so obnoxiously unfunny throughout that I may be in the process of making a new word to describe him.  This being said, if all the uncomfortable shtick and subplot were removed and the focus been solely on our two leads it might have made for a pretty good film. The two kids, played by Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck, could have stuck around too. I am pretty sure individually each had higher IQs than the rest of the characters combined and while over-bearing at times, still had a good handful of laughs. Another person worth mentioning is Nicole Kidman, who turns up as Kathleen’s nemesis. Her stereotype is that of fake, two faced, beauty queen; and while many of the jokes fall flat, I still enjoyed seeing her play a role that almost seems to be making fun of her near perfection.

In 2010, Adam Sandler was ranked #57 on the Forbes list of “World’s Most Powerful Celebrities” and for a 40-something guy who still proudly makes dick and fart jokes, he doesn’t seem to doing that bad. As crudely dumb and trite as some of his films are people always go see them. The common denominator is, obviously, him. He manages to be sweet, endearing, honest and childlike in every role. There is an innocence to him that few male actors so naturally evoke. Obviously still a child at heart, I caught three or four scenes where he couldn’t help but laugh at his own jokes. After over twenty years in this business, he still can’t help but chuckle at his own goofy humor. Maybe that’s why I’m so forgiving of him. Regardless of the quality of his movies, he always seems to be having a good time. I can’t say that I had as much fun watching the movie as he possibly had making it, but I certainly didn’t hate it.  I accept that what I got may not have been stellar, but when you go to see Sandler, you get what you paid for and that usually involves, at least, a couple of chuckles.

2.5 out of 5 stars. Just Go with It is rated PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language. Starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Brooklyn Decker, and Nick Swardson. Directed by Dennis Dugan.


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