I’ve tried to avoid reviewing movies that are too new or the top films in their day. I’ve wanted to remind whoever manages to stumble across my reviews to get something they might not have seen for a while and enjoy it again or make a discovery. However, I’ll take a somewhat current one today with “Just Go With It” since some people have an aversion to Adam Sandler’s comedy. If you’re critical of his work, give this one a shot … maybe Jennifer Aniston can make a difference. Or you might actually discover a wonderful comedy with solid acting from more than just the usual Sandler denizens.
‘Just Go With It’
(2011; 117 minutes; rated PG-13; directed by Dennis Dugan and starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman)
FAKING DIVORCE FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE (AND OUR LAUGHS)
(NOTE: I expanded this review with additional opinion, some more trivia and updated some links on July 9, 2017.)
I’m glad that comic actor Adam Sandler and director Dennis Dugan work well together. Otherwise you wouldn’t have “Happy Gilmore” (click here for my review) or “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” (click here for my review). Both are fall-down funny. So, when we come to “Just Go With It,” the team keeps the hits coming. I’m looking at “Just Go With It” today because it is funny, well-acted (yes, I wrote “well-acted”) and deserves your attention.
Of course the word puerile comes to mind when you think about Sandler’s comedy since it means “childishly silly and trivial” and that can turn some off. In Sandler’s case, it turns off the critics but not the ticket sales. Done well, puerile humor in film becomes an artillery shell of fun that drops somewhat out of nowhere. None of Sandler’s films fits this description any better than “Just Go With It.”
In “Just Go With It” Sandler plays “Dr. Daniel ‘Danny’ Maccabee,” who is a womanizing plastic surgeon in Los Angeles. He has a shallow love life because of being jilted by his first fiancée but now he’s found a young woman who he’s falling for. However, she’s spotted a wedding ring on his finger (he’s kept it as a way to pick up women since he didn’t marry the fiancée) and needs to make sure he’s really going to divorce his current “wife.”
Enter Jennifer Aniston as “Katherine Murphy,” who is his medical assistant and is also a single mother who has seen Sandler operate (in more ways than one) for years. She and her two kids get wrapped up in a very tangled web of lies to help Sandler get married. Then the fun REALLY begins.
The whole group (Sandler, Aniston, his new girlfriend, Aniston’s kids and Sandler’s cousin posing as Aniston’s lover) wind up on a trip to Hawaii as a way to for them all to bond. At the Hawaiian resort Aniston runs into a hated former sorority sister and then has to spin an additional web of lies to cover up her real life.
Whew! And you thought the lives of the rich and famous is all fun and games.
- Sandler is, of course, Sandler here. You know what you’re going to get with his wisecracks and puerile humor (there’s that word again), but as in so many other films he pulls it off with panache and leaves you on the floor. You won’t find an Oscar at his house (he’s never been nominated), but he was up for a Golden Globe for “Punch Drunk Love.” He’s also been in “Grown Ups” and its sequel as well as “50 First Dates.”
- Aniston, who is a Golden Globe winner for TV’s “Friends,” does a great job here balancing being herself as an honest, decent mother who has to become a supreme bitch in front of Sandler’s love interest. She can take catty to a new level, but also knows how to get real. Aniston is a very under-appreciated actor. She’s also been in “Horrible Bosses” (click here for my review), the cult classic “Office Space” (click here for my review) and “We’re the Millers” (which is truly even funnier than “Just Go With It”).
- Nicole Kidman, who is an Oscar winner, plays “Devlin Adams,” the college nemesis of Aniston who is so hated that Aniston named a bodily function after her (Aniston’s kids, for example, “take a Devlin”). Kidman is simply marvelous here and plays especially well off musician Dave Matthews, who plays her husband “Ian Maxtone Jones” (I’ll get to him later). I’m not a big Kidman fan, but she really rang up style points with me in this role. She won her Oscar for “The Hours” and nominations for two others. She’s also been in “Betwitched” and with former hubby Tom Cruise in both the über-steamy “Eyes Wide Shut” and NASCAR flick “Days of Thunder” (click here for my review).
- Matthews, who is the front man for the hyper-popular “Dave Matthews Band,” does another good turn here in a Sandler film (he was also in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry”) and has the single funniest moment in the film when, during a dance contest, picks up a coconut with his buttocks. Good job, Dave. He has also been in “Because of Winn-Dixie” and an episode of TV’s “House M.D.”
- Brooklyn Decker plays the absolutely stunning “Palmer Dodge,” who is the target of Sandler’s affection. However, Decker doesn’t bring as much acting ability to the table as she does physical presence and that means she falls basically to the stereotype of being window dressing and having gotten the part because of how she fills out a bikini – although Aniston certainly gives her a run for a money in this category. Decker’s also been in “Battleship” and has a string of TV roles on her somewhat brief resume of 18 credits since 2007. “J” is her first film after four TV credits.
- Rounding out the top of the supporting cast is Nick Swardson, who has impeccable comedy credentials and plays Sandler’s cousin “Eddie Simms.” Swardson tags along on the trip as “Dolph Lundgren” (Sandler used the name on Decker in one of his lies, so they had to come up with a “Dolph”) and is marvelous with his physical comedy. Swardson, who was also in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” and other Sandler films, has been in “Grandma’s Boy” (which is killer funny – click here for my review) and “The House Bunny.”
- The two young actors who play Aniston’s children (Bailee Madison as “Maggie Murphy”/“Kiki Dee Maccabee” and Griffin Gluck as “Michael Murphy”/“Bart Maccabee”) hold their own with the adults – and that’s not easy to do here. Madison, who affected an English accent for “Just Go With It,” has worked with some top stars, including noted work on “Brothers” and already has 39 acting credits at the age of 14 (she’ll be 15 next month). Gluck is now 15 but hasn’t been as prolific with just 15 roles on his resume. He was in “A Boy’s Life.”
“Just Go With It‘s” best scene among a bunch of ’em is the short one where Aniston and Kidman get real with each other and tell the complete truth about their lives. It’s really good work by both actors and this one scene elevates Kidman in my eyes.
The film’s funniest strung-together scenes are at the beginning when Sandler sees patients who have problems such as an eyebrow that’s three inches higher than it should be and a woman whose breast implant has ruptured. Sandler tweaks out your funny bone with these patients.
So, all in all, “Just Go With It” a film you should consider first because it will make you laugh without insulting your intelligence and second if you didn’t see it before. If you have seen it, make sure to revisit without delay. You obviously need the laughs.
“Just Go With It” was the 27th ranked film at the U.S. box office in 2011 with $103 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. On a budget of $60 million it has brought in $214.9 million worldwide and another $14.5 million in DVD sales, according to Wiki. Love him or hate him, you’ve gotta give Sandler credit for making money with his movies. The No. 1 film that year was “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” with $381 million in the U.S. alone. The other films from 2011 that I’ve reviewed are:
- “Horrible Bosses” (very funny raunch) – click here for my review
- “Midnight in Paris” (wonderful drama) – click here for my review
Assorted cast and notes (via IMDb.com):
- Noted sportscaster Dan Patrick plays “Tanner Patrick,” who is the emcee of the hilarious dance contest between Aniston and Sandler and Kidman and Matthews. Patrick has also been in “BASEketball” and also with Sandler in “The Waterboy.” Patrick’s real name is Daniel Patrick Pugh and he’s from Zanesville, Ohio.
- Pro tennis star Andy Roddick is here as “Good Looking Guy on Plane.” He’s also been host on TV’s “Saturday Night Live.” “Just Go With It” is his only film role.
- “Just Go With It” was released on Feb. 11, which is Aniston’s birthday.
- Directly from IMDb.com: “Despite the negative critical reception of the film, Nicole Kidman said that she enjoyed being part of the project, mainly because she got to work in her native Hawaii, and because her parents from Australia were able to spend time with her and her children, while she was working.” And my note: Some insiders say Sandler films on location to make his filmmaking more fun and, despite criticism of his films as vacuous, that’s why many stars want to work on his films.
- Finally and directly from IMDb.com: “Dave Matthews‘ character name (Ian Maxtone Jones) is a friendly nod to Ian Maxtone-Graham, The Simpsons (1989) writer/producer who co-wrote the first version of The Hanukkah Song with Adam Sandler.”
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