Complaining about Adam Sandler’s films is a little like complaining about Justin Bieber’s movie. The only people who are going to see it are people who know exactly what they’re gonna get. If you don’t like that Bieber kid, you aren’t going to go near Never Say Never, right? And if you’re not an Adam Sandler fan, why on Earth would you think Just Go With It would be anything other than standard Sandler-esque fare?
While not as entirely goofy (read: ‘stupid’) as Grown Ups or Happy Madison, Just Go With It is mostly run-of-the-mill– an excuse for Sandler to share screen time with a jaw-droppingly hot woman, spend time filming in a cozy, relaxing vacation hotspot, and hang out with his old buddies all day long.
You’ll note that I said ‘mostly’, though– because there were many times that Just Go With It actually rises above the Sandler Comedy Line (that mythical demarcation that separates drivel from actual humor). Surprisingly enough, this movie has a lot of heart, has jokes that hit more often than they miss, and only rarely reduces itself to humor that even Will Ferrell would find juvenile. Plus, even though the whole thing could have been avoided by having a character utter one simple line, I never came close to hurling things at the screen the way I wanted to during The Dilemma.
Sandler is Danny, a big-nosed loser who left his wife at the altar after overhearing a particularly disheartening wedding day conversation. The thing is, though, he never got rid of the ring. And why would he? Just minutes after bailing on marriage, he found the ring had the uncanny ability to make him attractive to women.
Flash-forward to present day, where he’s a super-successful plastic surgeon in L.A. who, with the help of his trusty (frumpy) office administrator Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), cures ugliness in the vanity capital of the world. At a party, he runs into sixth-grade math teacher Palmer (SI swimsuit issue cover model Brooklyn Decker). When she sees the ring, she doesn’t buy his story (lie) that his marriage break-up is imminent, and she decides she needs to meet the soon-to-be ex to confirm his story (lie). So Danny begins an elaborate charade that not only finds him begging Katherine to pretend to be his ex, but eventually drags not only her kids into the fray, but also his best friend Eddie (the scene-stealing Nick Swardson).
The more Danny’s lie spirals out of control, the funnier the situation becomes, capped off with a hilarious twist involving a mega-cameo by an A-list Hollywood actress and a well-known singer (which may or may not be a surprise… so I’ll refrain from giving away their identities here.)
The real bonus here is that Sandler and Aniston actually share pretty good on-screen chemistry. They’re nowhere near the ranks of Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan, but thanks to Sandler’s (relatively) toned-down performance, they actually come across as somewhat believable. Even when he slips into his de-rigueur goofiness, it comes across as a little more endearing than you might expect.
Director Dennis Dugan has been down this road countless times before (Grown Ups, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore), but getting his actors to… well, grow up a bit, makes all the difference here. That, and a relatively clever script co-written by Allan Loeb, who is now almost forgiven for his inexcusable The Dilemma and the so-so The Switch.
As Adam Sandler movies go, Just Go With It deserves a place near the top of the heap, as long as you keep in mind that most of Sandler’s other stuff is, indeed, pretty much just a heap.