'Just Go With It' finds Sandler has gone with it too long

Courtesy of Columbia

BY BY BEN VERDI
Daily Arts Writer
Published February 13, 2011

“Just Go With It” almost feels like an experiment. It’s as if star Adam Sandler (“Grown Ups”) and his favorite director Dennis Dugan (“Grown Ups”) wrote out the beginning and ending of a movie, and then flew to Hawaii to begin filming without any particular plan for what was going in the middle.

Just Go With It


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“How about Jennifer Aniston?” Dugan probably asked Sandler.

“Yep, add her in there somewhere,” Sandler would have indifferently replied.

“Consider it done! Who else would you like to hook up with in this movie?”

“The new blonde one … the one with Andy Roddick … ”

“Oh yeah,” would muse Dugan and actor Nick Swardson (“Bedtime Stories”), big-screen newcomer Brooklyn Decker’s name escaping them both.

“Eh, it doesn’t matter. She’s hot!” they’d all conclude, moving on directly to how they’d all split the movie’s box-office earnings.

It’s these spur-of-the-moment conversations and decisions that made Sandler’s early movies like “Happy Gilmore,” “Billy Madison,” “Big Daddy” and “The Waterboy” so spontaneous, unpredictable and hilarious. But because Sandler is relying on the same formula for comedic alchemy that he always has, his movies and their jokes have begun to feel repetitive and forced.

Some of the jokes in this movie go on far too long, while others are not developed enough. The movie’s farcical plot involves Sandler, Aniston and Swardson lying, as a group, to Sandler’s new girlfriend (played by Decker) about Sandler and Aniston’s past together. The lie is that they were once married and had kids but have since gotten divorced, which is why Sandler is now conveniently available. The truth is that he’s never been in a relationship with Aniston, but wants to pretend he was married at one time to gain some kind of sympathy from Decker to help win her over.

This idea for a plot would work if we paid to see Adam Sandler’s movies for their intricately portrayed love-triangles. And if it was at all difficult to trick Brooklyn Decker.

Farces are funny, people pretending to be different people are funny and Adam Sandler is funny. But “Just Go With It” feels like passing a cinematic kidney stone. Two hours of pain with only a few brief moments of rest and possible laughter is not enough to call a movie funny. It’s almost hard to call it a movie at all. It feels like watching the first performance of an improv comedy group whose members have never met before.

There is no chemistry, there is no plan and the funniest points in the movie are funny because they have the least to do with the story itself. Aniston was simply next on Sandler’s hookup bucket-list, and he figured he’d add Brooklyn Decker in because … well, have you seen what she looks like? Swardson is funny, but he seems to be Sandler’s new favorite muse simply because of how irrelevant Rob Schneider has become.

Meanwhile, Sandler grows older and more predictable with each half-baked movie he puts his name on. It’s sad to watch a legend keep playing past his prime, but that’s exactly what Sandler is doing. He’s like the aging Don Corleone in “The Godfather.” His name, and the greatness he’s already achieved, seem to be the only powerful things he has left.