FilmSlashTV: Don’t ‘Just Go With It’
This is a professionally executed, overly polite Adam Sandler farce with an overly sweet heart, the occasional big laugh and an absolutely glowing, adorable performance from Jennifer Aniston. The only two words that actually matter in the previous sentence are “Adam Sandler.”
Sandler is such a big pill to take. He’s a melon-headed curmudgeon who speaks in ingratiating baby talk, whose film persona has spiraled wildly from fairly inspired moron comedy to gentle straight man with flashes of nasty humor. He is never real on the screen. He’s undeniably a movie star, being a safely bankable Hollywood commodity, but he’s no actor.
Here, he’s a successful Los Angeles plastic surgeon who pretends to be married, and the ring on his finger is supposed to be catnip to the ladies, and by necessity, they need to be fairly stupid ladies. But one night he hooks up with a good-hearted schoolteacher with the body of a bikini model, and he likes her so much that he continues not just the lie about being married, but also claims he’s newly divorced. Alas, the new girlfriend insists on meeting the ex-wife. And the kids.
The Sandler character dragoons his cheerful office assistant, and her kids, into the deception, and thanks to the demands of the limp farce, everybody winds up on vacation in Hawaii. Well, not really Hawaii. It’s swank resorts on Maui. But the huge cost of the deception is part of the joke.
Things happen, often funny things, but since the gags often don’t grow out of situation or character, they are entirely unmemorable. Naturally, Surgeon Sandler, over the course of the deception, realizes his dream girl is actually his long-standing office assistant, and the one twist “Just Go With It” has to offer is the notion that love can actually grow from familiarity and trust.
As the office assistant, Aniston has officially become America’s sweetheart, taking the mantle from Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock. It’s a brilliant, warm performance that really showcases Aniston’s natural acting chops. She’s introduced in small scenes of office patter, and something of a miracle occurs — within seconds, we’re convinced that her character and Sandler’s are comfortable co-workers of long standing. You can practically feel their history, and it’s due entirely to Aniston’s empathetic reactions.
Sandler also seems his best when he’s coupled with an actress who can project light sweetness, negating his stock characters’ dour edginess. In his previous Hawaii movie, she was Drew Barrymore, and that was a far cleverer film than this one.
Being released on Valentine’s Day and with no other romantic comedies around, this romcom will likely do well, thanks to Aniston’s performance and some undeniable laughs, but it’s no classic. It’s a by-the-numbers programmer. And I have to warn you, there are two precocious children in it of the species that only exist in Hollywood’s imagination, and they are truly horrible. You sincerely wish that Sandler, like his previous characters, would drop-kick them. But he’s trying too hard to be mister nice guy. Unfortunately, we only know he’s a nice guy here because Aniston’s character tells us so, and we believe her.