Theatrical Review: JUST GO WITH IT

by: J.C. De Leon
February 11th, 2011

Rating: 1.5/5

Writers: Allan Loeb (screenplay), Timothy Dowling (screenplay), I.A.L. Diamond (screenplay "Cactus Flower"), Abe Burrows (stage play), Pierre Barillet (French play), Jean-Pierre Grédy (French play)
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman, Nick Swardson, Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck
Studio: Columbia Pictures

If you’ve ever thought to yourself that it would actually be fun to watch one of the fake Adam Sandler movies from FUNNY PEOPLE, then you’re in luck. JUST GO WITH IT is the closest (so far) you may get to see a real movie worthy of being one of the fake ones that was used to mock the career of his character in that film. Not to say that this movie is all bad, it’s at least got some of the best kid acting of any recent movie in the last couple of years. However good the kid acting may be, it may only appear to be that good because it’s propped up against some of the most effortless and nonsensical acting not seen since way back in December when we were subjected to LITTLE FOCKERS.

Danny (Adam Sandler) is a womanizing plastic surgeon who has developed a ruse to rope unsuspecting (read: gullible and unintelligent) women into sleeping with him. He does this by simply wearing a wedding ring and making up a story about his non-existent wife who cheats on him, or beats him, or does something else to emasculate him and make him look like a victim in need of a genuine connection. His assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) has to hear about all of his exploits, which they very professionally discuss in front of patients at his medical practice. One night, Danny is invited to a party where the host’s son falls down some steps and need stitches, after fixing up the kid's knee he meets the reason the son was so distracted.

Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) makes her entrance and after some light flirting they take a walk on the beach where it’s discovered that she’s a 6th grade math teacher with a heart of gold. When she discovers his wedding ring, she can’t believe she was so stupid (she was probably the only one) and refuses to see Danny again. Katherine helps him come up with a way to convince her that he’s getting a divorce and she agrees to continue seeing him as long she meets his wife and their kids.

The plot is actually a lot more convoluted than that, and that is the film's biggest problem. What could be a simple plot has several twists and turns that makes it hard to know when the plot development is going to stop and the heart of the movie is going to begin. The kids in the movie, Maggie (Bailee Madison) and Michael (Griffin Gluck), use the roles they’ve been assigned by their mom and Danny to their advantage to squeeze a trip to Hawaii out of it, and Danny being in the position of trying to impress Palmer must agree to everything his kids want so he looks like a good father. This is all reasonable human behavior, apparently.

Between a trip to Hawaii where Danny has to pay for himself, Palmer, his “kids', his ex-wife, and oh, his ex-wife needs a boyfriend that she cheated with (that’s why they’re getting a divorce, you see) so his friend tags along and uses the name Dolph Lundgren and speaks with a German accent, at no point does Danny realize that this is insane and throw in the towel. That was maybe the worst sentence ever typed here at Gordon and the Whale, but that was the only way to succinctly describe the insane plot of this film. Imagine sitting through it. It makes a mockery of humans in general and especially young twentysomething women, to an almost offensive level.

It’s also a little sad when in a movie with such big stars the best performances come from the kids in the movie. It makes you realize that the problem with the adults' performance is just a lack of effort. This is obvious because, in all honesty, Brooklyn Decker’s performance wasn’t that bad, especially considering this is her first major movie. But the spotlight should really be on Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck. Maggie is taking acting lessons and, in the ruse that Danny and Katherine have concocted, she decides that would be a good time to practice her British accent, and Michael utilizes his Godfather-like negotiation skills to get what he wants. Every scene with the two kids is stolen by them, and just makes you wonder what they’re up to during the scenes they aren’t in.

JUST GO WITH IT has its funny moments, but it certainly does beat a joke into the ground well after it was funny (if it ever was). One joke in particular, is what Katherine has renamed the act of dropping a deuce, so that when her kids say it, she gets a little chuckle. It’s told in a really odd story that, at first, seemed really out of place, until you realize that this joke is going to be told to you maybe twenty or so more times during the rest of the film. Lies are also a big problem with the film. Not the fact there is lying being done, it’s why this movie questionably exists and it’s understandable that there would be lying. But early on in their relationship it’s established that Palmer can tell when Danny is lying, it's part of what she likes about him, but then almost immediately she believes things like his wife left him for a man named Dolph Lundgren, but not the Dolph Lundgren from ROCKY IV?! Lie after lie makes what is a dumb plot to begin with snowball into something even bigger and dumber than what it was before and, after sitting through it, you may feel a little dumber, but perhaps your pain could be eased if you just pretend you just saw one of the fake movies from FUNNY PEOPLE.

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