MacGuffin Film Review – Just Go With It

Film Review – Just Go With It

There were two things I was thinking about while I was watching Just Go With It (2011), the latest comedy starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. The first is that this is not a very good movie, but simply a retread of just about every other bad Adam Sandler comedy that has come out in the last couple of years. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The other thing I was thinking about was that, although this film is not very entertaining, I still had that unfortunate feeling in my gut that it will get the top spot in the box office, not because of the quality, but because of the name attached to it. Sandler is a huge star, with many of his films being big hits, but at the same time, his recent work has been anywhere from mediocre to really bad. Have we so fallen in love with him that we’ll blindly go in to any movie he puts out, regardless of how bad we’re pretty sure it’s going to be?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Adam Sandler has a lot of talent and possesses acting ability that is surprisingly stronger than we would anticipate. The obvious example would be Punch-Drunk Love (2002), where he played an insecure man finding love when he least expected it. When he challenges himself, I believe Sandler can be quite the actor. Although I’m not the biggest fan of his early comedies, I can understand the appeal and see why people would enjoy movies like Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996). But those films came out nearly sixteen years ago. Sandler will be turning 45 this year, and it seems that he has not moved an inch away from the kind of comedy he did when he first broke out into the mainstream. Yes, he’s tried different things, but those were his least successful films, which makes me think that he continues to go back to his old style of comedy simply for getting that nice, big paycheck at the end of the day.

The plot of this movie would barely qualify for a B-grade television sitcom. Who in their right mind would ever seriously believe that Sandler would play a successful plastic surgeon named Danny? No one, and we quickly come to the conclusion that the character was written with that occupation for the sole purpose of including really bad jokes about boob jobs gone wrong, face lifts taken to the extreme, and patients made up to look like life-sized toy dolls. Who would really believe that Danny would pretend to be married, in an effort to seduce women as a way to make up for having his heart broken? No one, and we quickly realize that those are not the actions of a sane person, but rather the symptoms of someone with a really bad social complex. Who would actually believe that this guy would eventually fall in love with a beautiful young woman named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), who is nearly half his age, and who would sleep with him after meeting him for one night? No one, and we quickly learn that the age difference is used to make really bad jokes about Danny being old and Palmer’s adolescent-like enjoyment in reading Seventeen Magazine and listening to ‘N Sync. And who would honestly believe, through forced acts of miscommunication, that Danny would have to persuade his medical assistant Katherine (Aniston) to pretend to be his soon-to-be ex-wife, and have her kids (Bailee Madison/Griffin Gluck) pretend to be his own, in an attempt to have Palmer see how much of a loving, caring person he is? Absolutely no one, and we the audience know full well where this story is going and with whom Danny will really fall in love in the end, and we trudge along step by unfunny step toward its inevitable conclusion.

There’s a time and place for a dumb romantic comedy, and believe me there are a bunch that I find enjoyment in. But what’s wrong with this film is that it’s not very romantic or comedic, but just plain dumb. The director, Dennis Dugan, has worked with Sandler since the very beginning of the actor’s career, and has crafted a film that doesn’t contain so much a story as episodes of bad comedy and unrealistic romance. It seems Sandler and his team refuse to move away from comedy that appeals to the lowest common denominator—in ten years’ time, will Adam Sandler comedies still be based out of the toilet? Sandler’s acting here feels as though he is barely trying to put any effort into his character; he has such a laid back and lackadaisical attitude that we can almost sense that even he doesn’t care to be in this movie. Jennifer Aniston is a plucky and charming actress, but she is playing the exact same character she’s already played throughout most of her career. Brooklyn Decker is one of the most alarmingly beautiful women I’ve seen in recent movies, but her character is such a dimwitted idiot that it’s almost insulting to all dimwitted idiots. How can Palmer possibly be so naïve as to believe in the façade that Danny and Katherine put up? How can she possibly fall in love with and want to marry a guy so quickly? Wouldn’t his pending divorce from an attractive woman like Jennifer Aniston be a big ol’ red flag saying, “Hey, something’s not right here”?

The sad thing about this film is that everyone involved deserved better. Adam Sandler has gotten to the point where lowbrow, immature humor has run its course and has become stale. Jennifer Aniston is an actress who should’ve been doing bigger and better things years ago, but for some reason has not. And we the audience deserved a better film with such big name stars. There are two big cameos that appear in the film, (I won’t tell you who they are, if you look at the cast list on imdb.com you’ll easily figure out who it is) that have absolutely no business being in this movie, and the fact that they play pretty significant roles only adds to the confusion of it all. What makes me wonder is that, although I’ve written the many problems I had with the film, I’m still pretty sure that it will yet again be another hit for Sandler. And that right there, is probably the saddest thing of all.

Final Grade: D+

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