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I am Salty The Beast. I am what you might call a Renaissance man, meaning I find interest in most every medium. I love watching movies, listening to music, writing music, playing video games, making videos, etc.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Just Go With It



Is there any reason why I have to make a write-up for “Just Go With It?” Look at the facts: It is a 1) Happy Madison production 2) starring Adam Sandler and is 3) directed by Dennis Dugan (who has collaborated with Sandler on numerous other films). The better question I should be asking is why does anybody reading this need my input on whether or not they should go see it. Chances are you have already made up your mind on the issue.

Listen, Adam Sandler is approaching two full decades of being in the movie industry. You have seen his other movies. You have the capacity to decide whether or not his comedies (or Happy Madison Productions as a whole) are your cup of tea. As far as I can tell, you either love the guy or hate the guy. Rarely is there ever any middle ground. Me? I am one of those people whose opinions are split right down the middle. For instance, I like “Happy Gilmore,” “Billy Madison,” “The Wedding Singer” and “Click.” Meanwhile, I dislike “The Waterboy,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry” and “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan,” even to the extent of severe loathing.

The point I am trying to convey here is that it does not matter if the comedy Sandler and company make is dumb because, trust me, ALL of it is. The big selling point for me is based solely on if I can have a good time watching the stupidity unfold and if it makes me genuinely laugh. After all, isn’t that supposed to be the all-purpose rule of comedy?

But “Just Go With It,” to me, played out like an extended sitcom where you can predict the final outcome way too far ahead of time. The storyline is quite stale and unoriginal. If you can believe it, the film is an adaptation of 1969’s “Cactus Flower” starring Walter Mathau, Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn in the lead roles (Hawn even ended up winning an Oscar). Even before that, it was a theater farce that played on Broadway. I was not born in 1965 when the farce premiered, but I can guarantee it did not include unimaginative jokes about initiating a certain bodily function being referred to as “taking a Devlin.”

The story begins with a young, down-on-his-luck character named Danny Maccabee (Adam Sandler) who ditches his own wedding after overhearing the hurtful comments made by his bride-to-be. Finding refuge in a nearby tavern, he attracts the attention of other women who are drawn in by his wedding ring. His stories fall along the lines of “My wife no longer loves me”,“She beats me”, etc. So in turn, he ends up scoring points with these ladies out of sheer pity.

But the wedding ring masquerade gets him into big trouble one fateful morning. After falling for and spending the night with a beautiful, (comparatively) young woman named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), she discovers the ring in his pants pocket and, thinking he is taking part in an affair, calls the relationship off. His new story: “I am in the process of getting a divorce.” To progress matters, she replies that she requires consent from the wife. In an impromtu effort to sew up the confusion, Danny dolls up his plastic surgery office manager, a divorced mother of two named Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), telling her to act the part of his soon-to-be-ex.

And from there, the lies only continue to escalate until they far exceed the realm of absurdity (even for a broad comedy like this). After meeting with Katherine, the truth about her two kids slips out and Danny lies to protect his arse once again. Once the kids Maggie (Bailee Madison, who uses a mock-British accent as a part of her act) and Michael (Griffin Gluck) enter the picture, they badger Danny into taking the extended family on a luxurious trip to Hawaii, much to his chagrin. And then Katherine’s high school rival and HER husband (Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews) show up on the getaway trip. The figurative rainclouds manage to remain unusually stationary above the heads of our protagonists.

Those are simply the main extents to which Adam Sandler’s character will go through to get with this woman he so desires. The part that confuses me is why, after so many years of carefree sex and one-night stands, he can so abruptly have a change of character and jump to the conclusion of, “Hey, I can see me living the rest of my life with this Palmer chick,” in just one night. Danny really should have had a friend with him to persuade him that it is not worth going to such great and humiliating lengths to get the girl. Nope, instead we get a rarely funny and oft-useless side character played by Nick Swardson who goes the whole movie speaking in a boisterous mock-Austrian intonation.

Second of all, it is simply unbelievable that Palmer is such a trooper and takes in every word she hears as the truth. Not just her, but ALL of the characters infrequently show their capacity to reason and rationalize before allowing any information to soak in. This whole movie COULD in fact be wrapped up in a sitcom-length segment if the people just took the time to breath.

I could go on about just how tedious, pandering, outrageous and sometimes even cringe-provoking “Just Go With It” really is. Seriously, I think they could have trimmed at least half an hour off of the 120-minute running time. But even expressing all of my own individual disputes with the film as a whole would not drive away Sandler die-hards. It would only be giving Sandler haters more of a reason to avoid. Nothing I can say is news to anybody.

In the end, I believe the film DOES work as a farce. It is so obviously satirizing the awful career choices of George Simmons, the main character in the Judd Apatow directed Sandler vehicle “Funny People” from two years ago. I think I am starting to see the parallels between the fictional character and the fact.

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