Don't go with it 

Sandler stinks up his newest romcom

I have a question for the 20 or so moviegoers who sat in the Carmike Village 6 theater with me for nearly two hours on Sunday night as we watched Just Go With It. And before I ask this question, let me caution that there is no way to phrase this without sounding like an elitist jerk, but I am legitimately curious and so I will be an ass and ask anyway:

What the hell were you laughing at?

This is a serious question, because based on the volume of giggles and guffaws and all-out laughter emanating from the darkness for almost the entirety of the film, one would assume we were watching a funny movie. And that's not what we were doing.

In fact, this may sound macabre, but I laughed more during How to Die in Oregon—the devastatingly powerful documentary about death with dignity laws that screened at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival last week—than I did while watching Adam Sandler's latest atrocity, which bills itself as a romantic comedy.

It is neither. Just Go With It is the worst kind of film—an insulting, unoriginal, cringe-inducing, lazy attempt at comedy starring people who have been coddled for too long by the Hollywood hype machine that makes them famous for being famous, without a need to worry about the consequences so as long as the $15 million checks keep clearing. Yes, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, I'm looking at you.

click to enlarge The secret frenemy handshake.
  • The secret frenemy handshake.

Sandler deserves more of the blame here. He's getting awfully close to becoming the walking embodiment of America's lowest-common denominator. What temporarily saves him from this title are the occasional glimmers of hope like Funny People (an ensemble flick directed by Judd Apatow) and The Wedding Singer, the one and only legitimately funny film Sandler has carried by himself.

But The Wedding Singer came out 13 years ago, and since then Sandler has left a fairly consistent trail of crap in his wake, aided by partner-in-crime Dennis Dugan, who has directed nearly all of Sandler's abominations. The duo's resume has become disturbingly lengthy: Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, You Don't Mess With the Zohan, and last summer's Grown Ups. I realize I may be in the minority in despising Happy Gilmore, but the rest of the bunch have been universally panned, and for good reason.

And now Sandler and Dugan offer us Just Go With It, a film that uses the man-getting-hit-in-the-crotch gag three times in less than an hour. Don't say you weren't warned. Sandler plays Danny, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon who successfully flirts with women by pretending to be married, because faking adultery in order to get laid counts for good wholesome entertainment these days (the film is rated PG-13, and this is where I am obligated to remind you that Once received an R rating).

Without using his wedding band trick, the 40-something Sandler falls for a 23-year-old perky blond (Brooklyn Decker)—whom he has just about nothing in common with—after a one-night stand on the beach. Decker, whose acting is exactly as good you'd expect from a former swimsuit model, discovers the ring, to her great displeasure. At this point Sandler begins telling lies about his fake family, after which hilarity is supposed to ensue.

Danny makes up a fake wife, convincing his single-mother office assistant Katherine (Aniston) to play his soon-to-be divorced spouse, and later must pretend that her kids are actually his own. He creates a boyfriend for Katherine, and before we are allowed to even try and make sense of this all, Danny is taking his girlfriend, his fake wife, his fake kids and his pretend wife's fake boyfriend on a Hawaii vacation. Hilarity does not ensue.

The latter half of the Just Go With It becomes little more than a vehicle for Dugan to insert inane bits of physical comedy (a hand gets pooped on, a sheep is given CPR) and an attempt to tie together a plot that exploded in the first act. And it gives Sandler the opportunity to give cameos to his pals. Yes, that is actually Dave Matthews with a speaking role in several scenes, and yes, that is former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick emceeing a hula contest—a contest that serves as a pivotal plot point, if such a thing is even possible in this film.

The greatest tell of all may be that when it comes time to clear up the mess of lies and for Danny to come clean about the preposterous world he has created, the scene isn't even shown on camera. That's a pretty good indication that the players involved here realized they were driving full-speed off a cliff. Ending the movie as quickly as possible became the easiest out. In that sense, Just Go With It may the most self-aware horrendous film to come along in a while.

Just Go With It continues at the Village 6.

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