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Just Go With It Isn’t Going Anywhere

Movie Review: Just Go With It (2011)
Summary: On a weekend trip to Hawaii, a plastic surgeon convinces his assistant to pose as his soon-to-be-divorced wife in order to cover up a lie told to his girlfriend.
Spoilers: none

In yet another film about relationships and how things only get worse when lies are kept up, Just Go With It follows a plastic surgeon named “Danny Macabee” (Adam Sandler) as he begins a relationship with a much-younger Barbie doll of a girl, “Palmer” (Brooklyn Decker), with the help of his assistance and long-time best friend, “Katherine” (Jennifer Aniston).

Our story follows the same tiresome pattern that we’ve known from, heck, a goddamned eternity in movies: Guy tells lies to get girls. Guy has success in doing so. Guy meets really special girl on whom the lies backfire. To make up for it, he alters his lies, only to learn the hard way that things are doomed from the start when a relationship isn’t built on truth. 

Danny has been attracting the girls by carrying around a ring and claiming to be married, but things are on the rocks as he’s reeling in a rebound from some marital woe (told in short-story form, as you’d expect). When the nights of passion come and go as easily as he could want, he runs into Palmer, who will only date a legitimately single man. For that reason, he turns his failed “bang ‘em and leave ‘em” married man plan into a “we’re married, but divorcing” plan, sequestering the help of Katherine to stand in as his soon-to-be ex.

As you might already suspect, this eye-rolling effort becomes a fantastic mess that some writers think we never grow weary of, wherein our liberty-taking liars run into a few whacky characters that are funny only by America’s Funniest Home Video standards, but a gross disappointment in a movie that is supposed to meaningfully entertain in other ways than stagnant slapstick.

But even lying is not quite this hard, or this fingernails-on-the-chalkboard uncomfortable. In trying to gradually smooth hokey comedy into a genuine love story between Danny and Katherine, it does not quite succeed. But the problem is not acting or bad timing, but a theme that is worn out no matter how you slice it. 

On a trip to Hawaii (paid for by the good doctor to facilitate the lie, feeling he has no other choice in the matter), the mock-divorcing couple runs into the flamboyantly competitive “Devlin Adams” (Nicole Kidman), and then one of the more obnoxious characters in comedies over the last few years, “Eddie” (Nick Swardson), one of the most show-stoppingly stupid creations in some time, and the camel’s-back-breaking straw for this mostly weak and unfunny wind-down.

Katherine has two kids, “Maggie” (Bailee Madison) and “Michael” (Griffin Gluck), whose father hasn’t been in the picture for a long time. Well, I don’t want to be watching this picture, either. 

This rather sad combination of paltry liars are in cahoots to keep Palmer in the dark about things, but of course, Katherine and Danny begin to find that they know each other’s lives so well. In finding out that they harbor each other’s secrets and personal details and sustain a powerfully intimate level of ongoing communication, the film opens up the opportunity for Sandler and Aniston to rise above the muck of their movie in a quick turn at developing what nearly passes as the beginnings of a legitimate romantic spark.

Sandler and Aniston have presences that do indeed permeate. There is some real chemistry here, as well as some level of skilled acting. Kidman’s Devlin stands out in her role like any good red carpet-walker should. Anniston’s curious-but-beautiful down-home girl quality is, of all things, strong, but unfortunately cannot do very much to help things. Count on the charm and (occasional ad libbing) energy of the stars to come close to saving things from wordy dialog that will remind you of how it’s not making you laugh.

Pacing a little too close behind 2009’s Couples Retreat and 2010’s Grown Ups, Just Go With It makes its own way in the world in seeing how long it can teeter the line between being silly and outright insulting to its audience. Director Dennis Dugan who brought us Grown Ups, You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008), and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) brings us Just Go With It, the next in an underachieving line-up. 

The sad part is not that Just Go With It isn’t going anywhere, much less going to be recommended, but that in its C- status as a movie, it still manages to be one of the better Jennifer Aniston flicks in quite a while. The same, one can argue, can be said for Adam Sandler.

(JH)

Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for partial nudity, drug use, language, and suggestive themes)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler “Danny,” Jennifer Aniston “Katherine” Nicole Kidman “Devlin Adams,” Nick Swardson “Eddie,” Brooklyn Decker “Palmer,” Bailee Madison “Maggie,” Griffin Gluck “Michael,” Dave Matthews “Ian Maxtone Jones,” Kevin Nealon “Adon,” Rachel Dratch “Kirsten Brant,” Allen Covert “Soul Patch,” Dan Patrick “Tanner Patrick,” Minka Kelly “Joanna Damon,” Jackie Sandler “Veruca”
Genre: Comedy / Romance
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