Just Go with It (**)

Writing up a review of Adam Sandler’s new film Just Go with It is a bit of a challenge for me, since as a movie, it’s not very good at all, and lazily made.  That being said, for some reason I found myself laughing at the jokes in the flick more than I have for any comedy in a number of months…and not laughing at them ironically, but genuinely finding them funny.  This is Sandler doing what he knows how to do best, and this time he’s got a game female co-star in Jennifer Aniston.  Almost everything else in the movie is awful, but their chemistry is good and far more of the gags work than you’d expect.  I can’t recommend the movie in good conscious, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch, somehow.  I went with 2 stars because it’s a 3 star movie in terms of comedic value, but a 1 star movie in terms of filmmaking and effort, so make of that what you will.

Sandler is Danny, a plastic surgeon in Hollywood who is the best at fixing imperfections, but the worst at commitment.  After leaving his cheating fiancé at the alter in his younger years, Danny has taken to still keeping the wedding ring and using it sleep with younger women (they see a night of pity sex with no chance at anything long-term).  This is going great for him until he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) who he sees a future with.  When she’s no satisfied by his explanation of the ring, he’s forced to produce a fake wife (one that’s soon to be his ex-wife, no less).  That task falls to his long suffering assistant Katherine (Aniston), who’s not thrilled about it, but “just goes with it” (get it?).  Soon, her two children are involved (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck), and they all end up on a vacation to Hawaii.  There, things are complicated by Danny’s cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson) and Katherine’s college frenemy Devlin (Nicole Kidman), as well as Danny and Katherine beginning to fall in love.  All of the games keep everyone constantly frustrated, but it’s not complicated enough to confuse anyone.  It’s pretty shallow, but as the title suggests, the filmmakers just want you to go with it.

I like Adam Sandler, and he’s mellower here than he’s been in an “Adam Sandler movie” for a long time now.  In fact, he actually seems bored during the first act, mumbling and showing vague disinterest until the setting moves to Hawaii and he perks up.  It’s a standard Sandler role, if slightly more mature, and he does his thing.  Jennifer Aniston continues to not be able to get herself into high quality movies, but she does a fine job here with the role she’s given.  When she and Sandler are connecting, the weak script perks up. 

They do their jobs well, but they’re about the only ones.  Decker is there to look hot, and while she doesn’t embarrass herself, she’s certainly not doing anything noteworthy.  Swardson is incredibly annoying, and Kidman is almost embarrassing herself.  Dave Matthews also shows up, but he’s forgettable too.  Perhaps the worst performance goes to Gluck, who just screams “child actor”.  Madison is fine, but after the great work she did in Brothers, this is a disappointment.

Director Dennis Dugan is again working with Sandler, and he continues to wallow in directorial mediocrity.  A number of scenes are in need of another take, but he seems content to just move on.  He does nothing to help the project.  As for the screenplay, it’s by Allan Loeb (continuing one of the strangest screenwriting careers I’ve seen) and Timothy Dowling, based on the film Cactus Flower (which in turn is a remake of a French farce), and it’s not very good at all.  With the exception of some lowbrow humor, it’s a complete waste.  I have to think that most of what I found funny was improvisation and Sandler suggestions, as it fits in with what he’s done in the past.

Just Go with It is a guilty pleasure kind of movie.  It’s not very good at all, but functions decently as a happy ending type of romantic comedy.  What I enjoyed was the humor, which shockingly hit much more than it missed, especially in the second and third acts.  I’d never recommend this film to anybody, but it’s the quintessential Adam Sandler flick, so it doesn’t need my help.  That all being said, I have to say this again…for a poor movie, I laughed my ass off.