Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just Go With It

JUST GO WITH IT (Dennis Dugan, 2011)

In JUST GO WITH IT Danny (Adam Sandler) detects that wearing a wedding ring and concocting a tale of marital woe is just the ticket for hooking up with any hottie possessing a scintilla of sensitivity. Danny is a plastic surgeon who’s been using this knowledge with great success for more than twenty years.

His technique backfires on him, though, when school teacher Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) finds the ring after a romantic night together on the beach. When he explains that he’s getting a divorce, she insists on meeting his wife to verify the story. Danny bribes his assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his spouse. The matter seems to be taken care of, but an ill-timed phone call leaves Palmer with the impression that Danny and Katherine have two kids whom she’d also like to meet.

Lies pile upon lies. To keep up the charade Danny books a trip to Hawaii with Palmer, Katherine, her kids, and his cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson), who pretends to be Katherine’s German lover.

JUST GO WITH IT is an extraordinarily bad match of star and material. Sandler has never been the most energetic screen presence, and his films usually lope along so he doesn’t have to expend too much effort. JUST GO WITH IT, though, is a farce and needs to run at a high speed. The slack pace, as evidenced by its nearly two hour running time, kills any potential humor found in this comedy of deceptions and misunderstandings. The premise practically begs for a flurry of zingers. Instead the screenplay and performances offer soft volleys and returns.

An underlying anger and cruelty exists in Sandler’s films, but except for the movies made with those outside his usual collaborators, he’s too concerned with being likable to let that unfiltered meanness rise to the surface. Again, that makes JUST GO WITH IT a bad fit. This premise requires some acid in the jokes. It certainly has contempt for several of the characters, but the tone here is sickly sweet and sentimental even though nothing about the plot is.

It doesn’t help that the characters come off as beyond stupid. The lies told are never believable and become even more improbable as they escalate. To top it off, JUST GO WITH IT revels in its obnoxiousness, like the little girl who mostly speaks in an exaggerated British accent, and its laziness. Between this and GROWN UPS, it seems like Sandler’s movies are an excuse to subsidize his vacations with friends on screen. Heaven help us when this becomes too much for him and he turns to releasing his home movies with beautiful women fawning over him.

Grade: D-

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