Just Go With It

The Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston-starrer is a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness.

With:
Danny - Adam Sandler
Katherine - Jennifer Aniston
Palmer - Brooklyn Decker
Ian Maxtone Jones - Dave Matthews
Maggie - Bailee Madison
Eddie - Nick Swardson
Michael - Griffin Gluck
Devlin Adams - Nicole Kidman

Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and too lackadaisical a take on the oft-adapted French play “Cactus Flower.” Working with longtime director Dennis Dugan, Sandler and the rest of the film’s marquee cast could nonetheless steer it toward good returns.

From the outset, we seem to be firmly in vintage Sandler territory. An ’80s-set prologue shows Sandler’s Danny (affixed with a mammoth fake schnoz) as he gets his heart broken on his wedding day. Drowning his sorrows in the bar afterward, he finds that his wedding ring — and subsequent tall tales about his awful, abusive spouse — functions as a fail-safe casual-sex magnet. Flash forward to the present day, and Danny’s a wealthy Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, still single and still pulling the same sad-sack husband trick on nubile UCLA coeds.

Wacky shots of plastic-surgery disasters constitute almost all the jokes in the opening 10 minutes, but then again, this is a film that doesn’t know when to quit: Halfway-funny early gags on an unusual euphemism for defecation and an unseen character’s soul patch are reprised nearly a dozen times throughout the pic.

Danny abstains from pulling the fake-wife trick when he meets schoolteacher Palmer (swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker, seen quite frequently in a swimsuit), though she happens upon his prop ring after a tryst. Immediately segueing from satyr to lovestruck aspiring family man, having apparently fallen head-over-heels with Palmer off-camera, Danny claims he’s getting a divorce and recruits his single-mom office assistant, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), to stand in as his soon-to-be ex-wife.

Of course, this deception bequeaths an endless series of increasingly insane follow-up fibs — Palmer also has to meet Danny’s “kids” (Griffin Gluck and Bailee Madison, the latter affecting a faux-Cockney accent) and Katherine’s new “lover” (Nick Swardson, affecting a faux-Eurohash accent) — although the web of lies makes about as much sense as the real story. For reasons too laborious to follow, the whole clan sets off on a Hawaiian vacation, where Katherine runs into her sorority-sister nemesis (Nicole Kidman) and invents a whole new set of fictions to impress her.

When a film swings as wildly and frequently as this one, it’s bound to hit a few lucky shots, and a scene in which Swardson wrestles with an obviously fake, comatose sheep is just surreal enough to connect. More often than not, the pic just goes for the easy layup: In the course of one three-minute period, we see Sandler nailed in the crotch, Madison hurled into the mud and Swardson attacked by a wild boar, with none of these pratfalls even gesturing at a proper setup.

Thesping is all good enough for this material, though Decker’s purely reactive character seems to have been a tough one for a first-time film actress to play. But the best actor here, Kidman, gets a rather uncomfortable run through the ringer, shot entirely in the most unflattering clothes and light. (She and Aniston seem to be inhabiting different continents in their conversation scenes.) Kidman is also given a closeted gay husband (rock star Dave Matthews) and required to ask Danny for a plastic surgery recommendation; the filmmakers can’t have been unaware of her gossip-column history, and this all feels more like cruelty to the actress than knowing inside-humor.

Hawaii’s reliably beautiful locations (and outlandish luxury resorts) are well lensed, and other tech work is adequate.

Just Go With It

Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of a Happy Madison production. Produced by Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Heather Parry. Executive producers, Barry Bernardi, Allen Covert, Tim Herlihy, Steve Koren. Co-producer, Kevin Grady. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Screenplay, Allan Loeb, Timothy Dowling, based on "Cactus Flower," screenplay by I.A.L. Diamond, stage play by Abe Burrows, based on the French play by Pierre Barillet, Jean-Pierre Gredy.

Crew: Camera (color, Deluxe prints), Theo Van de Sande; editor, Tom Costain; music, Rupert Gregson-Williams; music supervisors, Michael Dilbeck, Brooks Arthur, Kevin Grady; production designer, Perry Andelin Blake; art director, Alan Au; set designers, John Berger, Lawrence A. Hubbs; set decorator, Claire Kaufman; costume designer, Ellen Lutter; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Richard Kite; supervising sound editor (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Elmo Weber; re-recording mixers, Tateum Kohut, Greg Orloff; special effects coordinator, Larz Anderson; visual effects supervisor, Ryan Tudhope; visual effects, Atom Fiction, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Zoic Studios; stunt coordinator, Scott Rogers; assistant director, Daniel Silverberg; casting, Roger Mussenden, Jeremy Rich. Reviewed at the Grove, Los Angeles, Feb. 9, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: Danny - Adam Sandler
Katherine - Jennifer Aniston
Palmer - Brooklyn Decker
Ian Maxtone Jones - Dave Matthews
Maggie - Bailee Madison
Eddie - Nick Swardson
Michael - Griffin Gluck
Devlin Adams - Nicole KidmanJust Go With It

More Film

  • Korea's Gang Dong-won to Star in

    Korea's Gang Dong-won to Star in Simon West’s ‘Tsunami LA’

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

  • Korea Box Office: 'Steel Rain' Defeats

    Korea Box Office: 'Steel Rain' Defeats 'Star Wars' to Dominate Weekend

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

  • netflix-the-little-prince

    Mediawan Closes In on Acquisition of Dimitri Rassam's ON Kids & Family

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

  • China Box Office: Local Titles 'Youth'

    China Box Office: Local Titles 'Youth' and 'Dunjia' Dominate Weekend

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Four Reasons Why 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Isn't One for the Ages

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

  • Mark Hamill and Ted Cruz Get

    Mark Hamill and Ted Cruz Get in Net Neutrality-Related Twitter Fight

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

  • 'Ethel & Ernest' Review

    Film Review: 'Ethel & Ernest'

    Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team has rarely put much stock in the rules of classical storytelling, but its newest project, “Just Go With It,” manages to misfire in two seemingly incompatible directions. A puerile kiddie-comedy without the anarchic energy, and a schmaltzy romantic comedy without the sweetness, this Hawaii-set farce is too frantic and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content