There was a moment early in “Just Go With It” where I thought, “Hey, this might actually be good.” A witty joke had been made in an understated way and the film looked promising. Unfortunately the thought was almost immediately undermined by jokes about popping breast implants and nipples. But aside from the adult humor, this film comes dangerously close to a family flick reminiscent of a Disney movie because of it’s ‘heart-warming’ moments and cheesy antics.
The film follows middle-aged plastic surgeon and habitual liar Danny (Adam Sandler) who uses a wedding ring to pick up chicks and then never speak to them again. But his whole scheme is flipped upside down when he meets someone he thinks he actually cares about, 23-year-old Palmer (Brooklyn Decker). When she finds his wedding ring and begins questioning him, Danny feeds her another lie: he’s divorced. But when Palmer asks to meet his ex and get her blessing, Danny has to concoct a fake family which consists of his work assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) and her two kids (Bailee Madion and Griffin Glick).
With star actors like Sandler and Aniston it was surprising that the only redeeming actor is Decker. In her first performance in film Decker brings life to a paper-thin character as Palmer blindly believes Danny’s lies. Decker portrays Palmer with true compassion while playing the dumb-blonde without taking it too far (i.e Amanda Seyfried as Karen in “Mean Girls”). Her unwavering trust and devotion for Danny sets her up as a character the audience sympathises with but is easily forgotten when Danny pursues Katherine.
“Just Go With It” has all the formulaic characters, plot-lines and kicks to the groin (three in the first half) needed to produce a film that is simple enough for the audience to not get confused and clichéd enough for the audience to feel comfortable. The shopping montage, a trademark of any terrible movie, is not used once but twice with only a five-minute pause in-between. Weaved in with the typical rom-com (romantic-comedy) scenes are moments that seem straight out of the first “Parent Trap.” The emotional moments with the kids and life lessons are, to say the least, trite and eye-roll inducing.
But where “Just Go With It” veers away from the typical comedy is what makes it truly terrible. Instead of comedic jokes and witty dialogue, Sandler delivers lines that simply tell the audience exactly how he feels or what he is thinking. Instead of using a simple smile or laugh to show how Danny felt he blurted out whatever came to mind. Lines like “That was fun,” and “I’m so happy” were only a few sentences that gave the feeling that the writers didn’t even try.
Yet the dialogue isn’t the only serious flaw in the film. Nearly every great comedy, from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, is around 90 minutes, keeping it long enough to have a decent plot but short enough so that the movie doesn’t get old. But this movie was a whopping two hours of sentimental dribble and jokes that seemed to never end. At least twice it seemed the movie was over when another ‘twist’ was thrown in causing it to extend to another false ending 30-minutes later.
But every film has at least one good thing and for “Just Go With It,” it’s the setting. When Danny decides to take the family to Hawaii, we trade the cold scenes in a doctor’s office for the warm, sunny beaches and waterfall paradises. While the scenes were beautiful to look at, they didn’t make up for the impossible storyline and gave the impression that the sudden travel was added to the script last minute.
Instead of making a comedy worthy of notice, it seems Happy Madison was just looking to make a quick buck and take a trip to Hawaii. “Just Go With It” may have been number one at the box-office opening weekend but the film’s unfathomable plot, two-dimensional characters and two-hour length prove it to be a film that will be easily forgotten.