Movie Review: Just Go with It (2011)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director(s): Dennis Dugan
The umpteenth Adam Sandler comedy to be directed by Dennis Dugan, 2011′s Just Go with It is a semi-remake of the 1969 screwball comedy Cactus Flower, which was based on a 1965 Broadway production that itself was adapted from a French play. Now that’s a mouthful. Despite all this, Just Go with It more overtly comes across as self-indulgence for those that made it, considering that no real effort looks to have gone into this abysmal romantic comedy (it appears as if Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler just liked the idea of an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian vacation for a few months). Clearly, Sandler had more fun picking up his big fat paycheck via holidaying in Hawaii with his gorgeous co-stars than anyone will have watching this exercise in comic tedium. Just Go with It should have been a funny, broad farce, but instead it’s merely a fluffy “Sandler-ized” romantic comedy from the tired mills of Hollywood.
Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Danny (Sandler) has spent decades having meaningless one-night stands, using a wedding ring and depressing faux sob stories to seduce random girls in bars. Danny is perfectly happy with the scheme, though his dishonesty is perceived as repulsive by his single-mum office manager Katherine (Aniston). At a party one night, Danny sleeps with a stunning blonde named Palmer (Decker), winning her over without his wedding ring tactics. Danny believes his relationship with Palmer could be more than a one-night stand . . . but then she finds Danny’s ring, forcing him to create a faux story about a former marriage and a pending divorce. Danny gets Katherine to pose as his ex-wife, on top of using Katherine’s children and his buddy Eddie (Swardson) to help sell the mounting fibs. Elaborate lies quickly stack on top of elaborate lies, and Danny is forced to bribe the gang with a trip to Hawaii to keep the ruse going.
Director Dennis Dugan’s last collaboration with Sandler, 2010′s Grown-Ups, was a complete bust; a misguided, obnoxiously unfunny wasted opportunity squandering great potential and a great cast. Digging further into the Dugan/Sandler back catalogue, the two also begat 2008′s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and 2007′s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Thus, it would appear we were warned well in advance of the awfulness of Just Go with It, which comfortably solidifies that their collaborations are about as attractive as a herpes epidemic. Ironically, the early scenes of the movie set in mainland America are the only remotely enjoyable segments of the movie. After the scenery change and the characters begin interacting within lavish Hawaiian locales, the film degenerates into an excruciating snoozer. Sure, Dugan captured Hawaii’s natural beauty well enough, but there is no energy or comedic spark to the material. It’s as if the cast and crew wanted to get filming over and done with as quick as possible to have more time to enjoy their Hawaiian vacation.
Eye-rollingly predictable from the outset, Just Go with It has no time for any such foreign concepts as wit, heart or charm as it cheerlessly goes through the hackneyed motions. The biggest sin committed by writers Allen Loeb and Timothy Dowling is that there’s far too much comedy in the “awkward humor” vein, with the characters forced to battle their way through awkward situations. This type of humor can work if, but only if, it’s actually humorous. Alas, this concept was lost on the writers, who made the film fundamentally uncomfortable and painful to watch. There are a few genuinely funny moments in the first 20 or 30 minutes, but the ensuing black hole of monotony completely nullifies the film’s initial charms. Perhaps worst of all, the film drags on for far too long, concerning itself with a string of lackluster set-pieces that fail to score any substantial laughs. Worse, the film skips critical story beats in order to engage in this madness. For instance, we do not see the repercussions of what happens when Danny tells Palmer the truth.
In their roles of Danny and Katherine, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston are merely variations of their usual screen personas. Sure, they’re believable enough and they’re not awful, but they were clearly on autopilot. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Decker was obviously cast as Palmer for aesthetic reasons, and her performance is exactly what you’d expect from a model-turned-actress. On the upside, Nicole Kidman (inexplicably left out of the advertising and promotional campaign) apparently “got” what the material was intended to be, and played her role broadly, loosely and spontaneously, stealing her every scene. If all of the actors were as broad as this, the movie would have worked. Nick Swardson also scores a few laughs, while young Bailee Madison is delightful as one of Katherine’s kids who loves to put on a British accent. However, it does seem likely that Ms. Madison was hired more as a novelty, since her name sounds remarkably like one of Sandler’s earliest and most beloved movies . . .
Clocking in at an interminable 110 minutes and deficient in satisfying belly-laughs, Just Go with It marks yet another black mark on Adam Sandler’s acting career. You’re more likely to sigh with exasperation at the characters’ stupidity and at the elaborateness of their schemes when you should be reveling in it and laughing heartily while waiting for the shaky house of cards to collapse. People may enjoy this movie if the humor appeals to them, but it will have little appeal outside of this demographic due to its lack of charm, heart and innovation. Just Go with It might make for a good date movie, but only if you hate your date.