Just Go With It

Cast:
Adam Sandler as Danny Maccabee
Jennifer Aniston as Katherine Murphy
Nicole Kidman as Devlin Adams
Nick Swardson as Eddie
Brooklyn Decker as Palmer Dodge
Bailee Madison as Maggie
Griffin Gluck as Michael
Dave Matthews as Ian Maxtone Jones
Kevin Nealon as Adon
Rachel Dratch as Kirsten Brant
Allen Covert as Soul Patch
Dan Patrick as Tanner Patrick
Minka Kelly as Joanna Damon
Jackie Sandler as Veruca
Rakefet Abergel as Patricia

Directed by Dennis Dugan

Story:
Plastic surgeon Dr. Danny Maccabee (Adam Sandler) has spent his life wearing a fake wedding ring, pretending to be married in order to lure dumb young women into his bed. When he meets the girl of his dreams, a schoolteacher named Parker (Brooklyn Decker), and she sees his ring, Danny finds himself lying to the point where he needs to ask his divorced office assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his ex-wife and soon, her kids are also in on the act and all of them are in Hawaii on a vacation together to keep the ruse alive.

Analysis:
Welcome back to Sandler-World, where 44-year-old men can act out every 13-year-old fantasy and get away with it and maybe, just maybe, they’ll grow up just enough to find the right woman to marry.

It’s really tough to review an Adam Sandler movie, since you can only marvel at the ingenious way he’s found himself a tried-and-true formula, or at least a couple of variations, that seem to work for his fans. “Just Go With It” mixes the romanticism of Sandler’s teamings with Drew Barrymore with his instinct for making humor when pairing him with kids ala “Big Daddy,” to create something that feels at least somewhat original.

Before we get there, the movie starts with a flashback–just like most of Sandler’s movies in fact–to his character Danny learning that his bride had been cheating on him before flashing forward to Danny as a rich plastic surgeon who has perfected a game of picking up college coeds by pretending he’s married. When he meets Parker (Brooklyn Decker) and she falls for him without his normal tricks, he realizes she’s different but after she finds his lucky ring, he’s forced to come up with a ruse to save his butt, which is where his assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) and her two kids come into the picture.

Now I don’t think I ever thought I’d see the day when I’d be saying that Jennifer Aniston was able to improve Sandler’s game, but she’s the best thing going at breaking up his normal routine as she offers just enough sass to go toe-to-toe with Sandler. The two of them have great chemistry whenever they’re trading friendly barbs in front of Parker, Aniston making it quite clear that she’s not going to take a backseat to Sandler like some of his normal bimbos.

Unlike “Grown Ups” in which Sandler did everything he could to make himself look good, he actually relaxes and allows himself to be the butt of jokes from the rest of the cast, even the two kids – an interminably cheery little girl who goes through the entire movie sporting a mock British accent and her moody younger brother.

Newcomer Brooklyn Decker is super-cute and bubbly and she looks smokin’ hot in a bikini, probably the main reason she got the job, but she also has acting skills a couple of notches above Jessica Simpson, so she works just fine as another Sandler love interest that one could never believe might be interested in a guy that looks like him. (It’s kind of hard to believe she’s a schoolteacher as well.) Meanwhile, long-time Sandler sideman Nick Swardson moves to the front lines as Danny’s buddy (brother?) Eddie who ropes his way into the faux family vacation to Hawaii, and he has some of the movie’s funniest moments although he does go quite a bit overboard at times.

When the movie ends up on what looks like the exact same beach as Ben Stiller’s “The Heartbreak Kid,” you start to wonder if the premise has enough juice for Sandler to keep it going, and that’s when Nicole Kidman shows up as Katherine’s catty sorority competition Devlin along with her husband, an absolutely loopy performance by rocker Dave Matthews. Kidman’s performance in the role of spoiled and snooty Long Island debutante is almost inspired enough to reinvigorate the chuckles.

It’s somewhat surprising this is the same director who made “Grown Ups,” because Dennis Dugan exerts a bit more control over Sandler’s shenanigans here. There’s a good chance they just had better material to work with so they didn’t have to resort to an improvised schtick-a-thon like their previous collaboration. It still gets a bit ridiculous as it goes along, veering into the scatological and slapstick humor required of all Sandler comedies, but the fact it never gets quite as excruciatingly moronic as “Grown Ups” allows it at least one mark on the plus side for Sandler’s latest. (The bastardization of music by Sting and The Police almost made me want to take that mark away, though.)

The Bottom Line:
“Just Go With It” isn’t Sandler’s best movie nor is it his worst. It offers enough hearty laughs to at least be considered a guilty pleasure, even if it still sticks far too close to formula that’s worked for Sandler before, which makes it way too easy to predict where it’s going.

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