Review of Just Go With It
Friday, March 4, 2011 • 4:19pm
Adam Sandler’s current film Just Go With It is a loose remake of the 1969 farce Cactus Flower and critics have unfavorably compared the new movie with the older one. I confess I have never seen Cactus Flower but after suffering through Just Go With It I can confidently state that one doesn’t have to contrast it with its predecessor to realize how awful it is.
In the film’s prologue, Danny (Sandler), possessing an obviously prosthetic schnozz, overhears his bride-to-be putting him down. Shedding tears (although Adam looks merely dazed), he walks out on the ceremony, determined never to get seriously involved with another woman again. Danny uses his wedding ring to masquerade as an unhappily married man to engage in flings with gullible ladies.
Fast forward to the present, we now learn that Danny is a successful plastic surgeon who has gotten a nose job. He falls in love with a gorgeous blonde named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) and wants to marry her. But she discovers his ring and jumps to the conclusion he is already hitched. A paragon of virtue, Palmer will not be a home wrecker. Does Danny tell her the truth? If he did, the film would have mercifully ended.
But Just Go With It is supposed to be a wacky farce, so he lies that he’s in the process of a divorce. Palmer wants to meet Danny’s alleged wife so he persuades his faithful assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his vixenish spouse. Then for reasons not worth explaining in this review, Katherine’s children (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck) masquerade as Danny’s children and Danny’s cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson) pretends to be Katherine’s boyfriend. They all go on a trip to Hawaii where somehow, like in all farces, all the misunderstandings and mix-ups are resolved.
How does Just Go With It fail so miserably? Let me count the ways. For starters, Adam Sandler completely lacks charisma or charm here. Totally disengaged, he walks through the film looking mildly bemused at all the contrived hijinks surrounding him; a smugly complacent star who considers genuine effort beneath him. Then again, maybe he couldn’t even feign interest in Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling’s screenplay. It’s a perfect example of what Roger Ebert has called “the idiot plot”- where all the problems would be easily resolved if any of the characters had any sense. The writers also seem to think that any references to defecation are automatically funny and that there never can be too many of them. And when they try to inject some heartwarming drama into the scenario, it is too contrived to be affecting.
Dennis Dugan is credited as Just Go With It’s director, but he actually misdirects the movie. He handles all the gags without any finesse or style so even the potentially funny ones, like a hula competition, come off as clumsy and effortful. And he makes every scene drag on too long. His sluggish pacing tempted me to yawn at the top of my lungs more than once.
Most of Sandler’s fellow actors come off badly. Unlike Adam, Aniston actually tries to act but she’s defeated by the material. Model Brooklyn Decker is a likeable personality but a lackluster actress; Dugan doesn’t help by using her as a sex object, particularly depicting her in clichéd slow motion wearing a bikini. As the children, Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck seem too cute and precocious to be believable, although I suspect Dugan is to blame. And Nick Swardson is thoroughly insufferable when, masquerading as Katherine’s lover, he affects a shrill German accent. Only Nicole Kidman, who shows up late in the movie as an old enemy of Katherine’s, emerges relatively unscathed. She injects her role with witchy aplomb proving than even in a supporting role she has genuine star quality. But even she is occasionally victimized by Dugan’s misdirection, particularly the hula competition.
Just Go With It does provide beautiful scenery of Hawaii. But if you can’t afford to actually go there, you’d be better off renting a travelogue DVD to see that. In fact, you’d be better off doing practically anything than watching this wretched film.
Now playing at Clearview’s Beacon Hill Cinema 5 in Summit, Clearview’s Madison Cinema 4 in Madison, the Rialto Theatre in Westfield, Maplewood Theaters in Maplewood, AMC Essex Green Cinema in West Orange, AMC Lowes New Brunswick 18 in New Brunswick, and Fabian 8 in Paterson, it is rated PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language.
Raymond Valinoti, Jr. is a resident of Berkeley Heights, NJ. He has a Master’s in Library Science from Rutgers University and is a freelance researcher. His articles on film have been published in the magazines Midnight Marquee and Films of the Golden Age. His biography on the comedy team Laurel and Hardy has recently been published by Bear Manor Media. He can be reached by email at email@example.com, through Twitter at http://twitter.com/rayvalinoti, and through Facebook at Raymond Valinoti.
Raymond Valinoti, Jr. is a librarian, freelance writer and researcher. He writes movie reviews for TheAlternativePress.com
The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.