February 13, 2011

Movie Review: Just Go with It

I was all set to not like this. The trailer looked like it might have a couple of funny moments, but I was not about to hold my breath for quality. I mean, Adam Sandler has had a bit of a rocky career. If this was going to be anything like Grown Ups I do not think I would be able to handle it. To be certain, I like Sandler and he has had some great stupid comedies (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison) as well as more mature fare (Punch Drunk Love, Spanglish, Reign Over Me). Where will this fit into his filmography?

The answer to that is right in the middle of the road. It is a lighthearted movie built on a preposterous setup. It is the sort of thing that you will either accept and go along with or sit there in the dark stewing about how stupid the characters are. Over the years I have found myself on both sides of that aisle. Generally what it comes down to is whether or not I like anything that is on the screen. Is there enough saving grace to win me over? With Just Go with It does have enough to like and therefore I have somewhat positive feelings about it. It is not going to blow you away and it will not likely stay with you for very long, but for the short term while you are in the theater it is fun enough.

Just Go with It is a remake of the 1969 movie Cactus Flower, which starred Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and Goldie Hawn (a role that won her an Oscar). Prior to this version I had never heard of Cactus Flower. One thing I can say that is different between the two is that there is no chance Just Go with It will win an Oscar.

Adam Sandler stars as Danny, a plastic surgeon, who was crushed by love in his youth and has chosen to protect himself from future pain. He wears a wedding ring and pretends to be in bad relationships in order to have meaningless physical encounters free of potential emotional pain. The only person in on his game is his assistant, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), not that she approves.

In any case, he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a gorgeous young woman that he has a connection with. The problem is that she finds his fake wedding ring and the lies begin in earnest. He says he is getting a divorce, she needs to hear it from her, Katherine becomes fake soon to be ex, everyone goes on a fake vacation to Hawaii and the lies build and build until there is a moment of emotional realization, the truth comes out, everyone lives happily ever after, and the credits roll. Whew, now I can breathe.

It takes a little while to get going, but once you get past the initial plot set up and some mean-spirited comedy and annoying kid stuff, it gets into its groove as the Hawaiian vacation begins. The movie is a little ridiculous. I mean one well meaning conversation would bring the movie to a grinding halt, so we must buy into it early on. Once that is done you can get into the lies and near misses that set up the rest of the movie.

I am sure you are probably trying to figure out why I like this at all. Well, some of the jokes are kind of funny, so there is that. More importantly, I really liked the sweet relationship that developed between Danny and Katherine. Sandler and Aniston have a surprising amount of chemistry and the friendship they have was actually well told and executed. Just try to ignore Nick Swardson, who delivers a couple of laughs but feels like he is in a Saturday Night Live skit. Brooklyn Decker is great at looking attractive, but not so good at playing an intelligent character, not that the script helps her at all.

In the end, it is the relationship of Sandler and Aniston that makes the movie work at all. If you are looking for a couple of laughs, go ahead and check this out, just keep your expectations low.

Mildly Recommended.

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