The obvious, first. If you’re no fan of Adam Sandler, then you’re not going to warm to Just Go With It. The film reunites him with director Dennis Dugan for the sixth time, and their working union has thus far resulted in movies such as Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Big Daddy. And while Just Go With It isn’t quite in the same boat as some of those, the comedy very much is.
This time, the pair have put together a sort-of-romantic comedy, one that sees Sandler as a plastic surgeon who, in his earlier days, was about to get married until he heard his wife-to-be making disparaging remarks. Sander’s character, Danny, keeps the ring, though, and finds it’s an effective way to get lots of women into bed.
Sandler co-produced the movie, incidentally.
Fast forward, then, to his successful plastic surgery practice, which just happens to employ Jennifer Aniston’s Katherine. She’s a divorced single mother with two young children, and as soon as Sandler enlists her help in hooking him up with Palmer (played by swimsuit model, Brooklyn Decker. Sandler co-produced the… ah, mentioned that already), the necessary ingredients of the narrative arrange themselves in wholly predictable order.
To get through a near two hour running time, though, the film deploys two further tactics. The first is a collection of increasingly irritating contrivances, with characters doing things that human beings in real life simply wouldn’t. The second strategy, however, is far more effective, and that’s to recruit a collection of supporting players who can keep the comedy bubbling along.
This works more often than it doesn’t. Nick Swardson, for reasons it’s best not to explain, ends up having to pretend to be a fake boyfriend to Katherine, by the name of Dolph Lundgren. And with very slight material, he generates more than it’s reasonable to expect. Furthermore, young Bailee Madison, as Katherine’s young daughter, manages to earn chuckles by throwing herself into a series of accents that work far better than they should (even if the film relies on them too much by the end).
The surprising casting choice is Nicole Kidman, however, rediscovering her touch for comedy. At first, her character lends little to the film, but come a terrific set piece near the end of the movie, it had me wishing she’d find a darker comedy role, akin to her magnificent turn in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For, all those years ago.
The two leads, meanwhile, can do this kind of material in their sleep, and in Sandler’s case, he sort of does. He’s perfectly fine and playing very much to his fans. The charm of his lead in The Wedding Singer is lacking, though.
Aniston, though, gives it her all. Over the past years, she’s had an unerring eye for some truly shitty scripts, but you can’t fault her gusto. There are reasons why she’s one of the best comedy actresses currently working in feature films, and you’ll find plenty of them in Just Go With It.
Still, it’s a desperately uneven film, suffering from basic direction (you’ll soon tire of the quick establishing shots of Hawaii), and a bloated running time. Yet,by the time the credits roll, you’ve had a decent amount of entertainment and a fair few laughs for your money.
In the stable of Sandler romantic comedies, it’s way below The Wedding Singer, but better than something like 50 First Dates. And for an unambitious Valentine’s date movie, which the film is being marketed as, it’ll just about do.
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