Just Go With It
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // February 11, 2011
Review by Tyler Foster | posted February 10, 2011
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Just Go With It is a new entry in two long-running traditions often accused of going through the motions: the romantic comedy, and the Adam Sandler movie. As far as the former goes, my standards are simple: chemistry and a lack of contrivances are enough to help the genre's trademark clichés like "unexpected" love blossoming and happy endings go down easy, and Go successfully skips a few tiresome traditions in order to come out looking fairly good. As for Sandler, few Hollywood megastars seem more affable, more laid-back. Decked out in his traditional wardrobe of polo shirt, cargo shorts and sandals (Sandler's wardrobe is matched in nonchalance only by current-day Bruce Willis), he plots his vehicles like he's planning a weekend barbecue, casting his longtime friends as co-stars and letting faithful director Dennis Dugan organize the results. At their most pleasant, his yearly efforts reflect that personality: low-key, quick-witted ribbing, but here, Go is more of a toss-up. Although he and co-star Jennifer Aniston are a good match, and the film seems to be trying harder than, say, Grown Ups or Chuck & Larry, what works only highlights how lazy the rest of Sandler's schtick is.

Sandler plays Danny, a plastic surgeon who uses a wedding band (left over from his disastrous almost-marriage that ended on the wedding day) and stories of his depressing home life to seduce single women in bars. During the day, he laughs about his escapades with his assistant Katherine (Aniston), a single mom with two neurotic children (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck). While attending a fancy house party, Danny runs into Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a stunning blonde who gives Danny thoughts of settling down. When she finds his ring and tries to dump him, he convinces Katherine to help him stage a simple story: he's getting divorced, and she's the ex. Quickly, elaborate lies stack on top of elaborate lies, and before long, Danny, Palmer, Katherine, her two children, and Danny's best friend/cousin/acquaintance/I forget Eddie (Nick Swardson), posing as Katherine's new beau "Dolph Lundgren", are all in Hawaii, forming an extremely unlikely "family".

As with No Strings Attached, Just Go With It makes enough minor choices in massaging the rom-com formula to stave off watch-checking and eye-rolling, opting for a small-scale finish rather than an unnecessarily exaggerated one, and using the Palmer character for comedy more than genuine romance. On one hand, it could be argued that there's no romantic tension if Palmer isn't a real choice, but, come on, nobody's going to Just Go With It expecting jaw-dropping twists. The film also uses a surprise character (well, maybe not so surprising, given how many people seem to know already, but I'll keep it a secret) to help balance the comic participation of Aniston to Sandler, which is also appreciated. It's no reinvention of the wheel, but it does pretty well while playing by the rules.

Unfortunately, Sandler's trademark style of goofy, gross-out humor is less functional, an element that becomes more and more extraneous with each of his new films. The insanity of, say, Happy Gilmore is consistent; love it or hate it, at least it feels like Ben Stiller's lecherous nursing home manager, a one-handed Carl Weathers and an angry Bob Barker are all part of a like-minded whole. Today, Just Go With It packs in a sheep rescuscitation, mismatched breasts, uneven eyebrows, and, most bafflingly, an opening gag involving extremely enlarged noses, none of which have any bearing on anything else happening on screen. The kids' material also gets old fast (especially Madison's faux British accent). I understand that this is Sandler's M.O., and given the public's reception of Punch Drunk Love and the abysmal box office of Funny People, it's easy to see why he avoids jumping the rails, but I have hope the audience wouldn't get up and leave if Nick Swardson didn't get poop on him at some point.

Instead, the film should've focused on the comic chemistry of Sandler and Aniston, the one thoroughly redeeming element that keeps the film engaging. As a pair of fairly evenly-matched, experienced comedians, the pair bring the movie to life by putting their genuine back-and-forth on-screen, a type of amusing oneupsmanship that is, as far as the movie's concerned, indistinguishable from the romantic chemistry the characters are meant to be experiencing. The audience wants to see the two together simply because the film is better when they're paired up. Too few of Sandler's fairer co-stars have had the opportunity to bite back, but Aniston is more than game, turning in her most charming comic performance since Office Space. For awhile, their repartee makes the viewer forget: forget that Palmer is introduced to the audience with her ability to tell when Danny is lying, only for the whole film to be predicated on it; forget that her character barely gets an ending, forget that both performers are capable of making a better movie. Oh, well. I mean, I could go on, but it's probably twice as good as Zohan or The Bounty Hunter put together, and the movie's title already says it all.

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