Just Go With It - 14th February 2011

Adam Sandler is who he is, I think you probably either love him or hate him. Judging by the box office results of his films, you'd think most people would love him but you talk to anyone and apart from maybe Happy Gilmore or the Wedding Singer most people would deny ever particularly liking his work. Which is odd because most of it is fairly inoffensive, silly, formulaic stuff with a little bit of slightly weird and surreal but harmless Sandler comedy thrown into the mix.
To me he is like the slightly more childish and yet more successful, male version of Sandra Bullock. They are both industries unto themselves, they churn out a self produced film every one or two years that is a watchable, wacky and throw away comedy and then very occasionally do a 'proper' acting piece like 'Punch-Drunk Love' or in The Bullock's case 'The Blind Side' and every single, overly-serious, chin stroking pundit around the globe mutters "well this is what they SHOULD be doing surely! not that other rubbish..."
Well I am here to say they've all missed the point because give me 'Don't Mess with The Zohan' over 'Punch Drunk Bore' and "Snoozelish' every day of the week.
Now I personally wish I could've written all this Sandler based mild praise at the head of a review for a film that was one of his better ones like an 'Anger Management' or something but unfortunately not. This was one of those Sandler movies that was ok but only just ok but we'll get into that in a minute.
I am going to make another comparison and I am going to say that Adam Sandler is like Woody Allen.

"Now steady on!" all the chin strokers say, appalled that I have compared this, what they think is a neanderthal, dick & fart joke comedian with their Oscar winning, thoughtful, neurotic New Yorker, Jewish friend.

Well, if they give me a moment to explain then I will.

Adam Sandler is specifically like late period Woody Allen, like Allen he has churned out one, sometimes two, self produced films a year since 1995 and this is not counting the films of others he has also acted in, this is only including the 'Billy Madisons' and the 'Waterboys' of his acting CV, like Allen his hit rate, in terms of good content, is a little bit up and down, for every 'Little Nicky' theres a 'Mr Deeds' (I am sorry but Mr.Deeds is funny, for John Turrturo and Steve Buscemi if for nothing else, go re-watch it and I dare you not to smirk) and like Woody Allen he can get good, famous actors you've always liked to turn up, openly just have fun and do the sort of stuff they don't get to do on other films.
I guess, when all is said and done, Adam Sandler movies are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me and that's just the way it is, not every film can be a Godfather part 2 or an Apocalypse Now, sometimes you just want some nonsense you can laugh at and I don't see how Adam Sandler is any different to 'The Producers', 'Caddyshack' or even something like 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' and Sandler manages to make people laugh without a lot of gratuitous swearing.
The final and general good thing I will say in my case for Mr.Sandler is he keeps all his friends around and I have a real soft spot for groups of friends doing things together, from the Mel Brooks regular cast, the Apatow lot, Kevin Smith or the Pegg, Wright and Frost trio. For me, anyway, this aspect of it is the most fun and I love the movies the most when the same group crop up in it and play different parts, maybe because it is the dream to get up everyday and go to work with your friends, just spending each day laughing and larking about. That's something to actually aspire to.

Anyway, enough of all this pontificating, maybe there was no need to make a case for Sandler, maybe it's just my imagination that people keep their like for his movies hidden because they feel he isn't important enough or something, I don't know but whatever the case at least I have established that I like his stuff and I have seen a whole lot of it.

Now we come to 'Just Go with It' which is both the title of the film, one of the plot points, a line actually said out loud in the film and finally what I would suggest all audiences do when watching this. I am afraid that, for me, this was not one of his better films, it was ok and there were some funny parts but ultimately it's not one I would need to see again.

Where to start? Well, unusually, considering he is using Dennis Dugan as director who, for people not in the know, has been a frequent collaborator with Adam Sandler for a long time, the direction is just a bit off. It feels plain, stale, beige, unimaginative and lacking the vibrancy and silliness of a 'Zohan' and even a 'Chuck & Larry' and it's this slow, pondering and amateurish looking camera work, lack of a soundtrack and overall style that bogged down the film and made the jokes harder to laugh at.

All the actors try their hardest in this to wring out all the jokes and comedic performances they can from the script but try as they might with the farcical set-up, silly accents and ridiculous costumes it can get very weary watching them try so hard and get back so little. I have said it before and I will say it again that I think Jennifer Aniston is a great comedienne but much like The Switch before it, this film does not give her a whole bunch to do, still when she is required to gain in chemistry with Sandler she comes across as believable.
Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, is not a great anything anymore. When she shows up as the arch rival and old nemesis of Aniston's character not only is she painfully not funny but now, after what must be years of plastic surgery abuse, looks absolutely ridiculous. Her face looks like a muscle! her nose appears to have been stolen from Michael Jackson's corpse and her lips look like Nathan's hot dogs, also she simply can't act! Oh now I am sure if you go see her in her Rabbit Depression Dead Baby Hole movie she probably weeps and looks vacant and solemn with the best of them but actual acting? not sure she has done that in a long time.
Kidman, in this film, is acted off the screen by two actors whose combined ages is probably less than any of the caps on her teeth or her weirdly unlined, plastic looking, alien forehead. I don't know where they found the kids for this film and, while they are obviously precocious little brats, they were completely perfect and a hell of a find. The little girl does a funny Dick Van Dyke-esque accent the whole way through, which does become grating but is, none the less, very impressive and the little boy is an example of dead pan brilliance.

I could now go on about the convoluted plot and bad farce that would easily unravel if any of the characters said a simple sentence but like I said at the beginning of the review, just go with it. These things hardly, if ever, make sense because it is too hard, time consuming and complex to actually develop a farce that would do and especially hard in this case as it feels like a standard rom-com script, with little to no imagination, has been taken by the producers and cast and 'Sandlered' up a bit but unfortunately just not enough. When the film suddenly uproots its whole cast of characters and sends them to Hawaii you realise that the screenwriters had basically just given up as Hawaii is becoming as repetitive and common for sub-par Rom-Coms as tourist post-card areas of New York are.

Now, while I agree that picking holes or looking too deeply into a film like this is redundant, I do wander what the film is saying about women when the plot initially hinges on the idea that any women will sleep with a sad married man and not even after too much effort either, then goes on to indicate that buying lots of shoes and dresses will make up for invading yours and your kids lives with lies, then feature scenes where the actresses are forced to disrobe and wonder around in bathing suits, reducing them to little more than body parts and finally have the most intelligent character in the film fall for a guy whom, since she has known him, has only ever been a liar and a user of women for his own personal, shallow gratification and his only excuse for that is that a woman once did that to him, once, ages ago.
I can't really comment either way but it did sit slightly uneasy with me and yet I saw the film with two women and neither of them were really bothered with it, also the film did seem, weirdly, to be aimed at women, so maybe I have been infected with that nasty politically correct bug but just maybe it had to do with the fact that all the women in the film were all supposedly beautiful and very successful and all the guys were schlubby, lying, insecure buffoons and that makes it all ok. Guess I should just go with it.

Ok, so that was most of what was wrong with the film, that and it didn't have enough of those Sandler moments, those surreal gags, those little weird asides that are cleverly written and make me hoot with laughter.
However, despite all that and despite being in a screening where inexplicably someone brought a baby into the theatre (these people need to be slapped around and then forced to live in huts in the northern territories until they learn how to be good parents and behave), I actually had an ok time, laughed a bit and wasn't really bothered either way about the film.
My wife had an incredible time as I am English and the friend she was with was German and when, in the film, two characters started to portray a mockney English person and a daft German respectively, tears of laughter were pouring down both their faces and so for that reason alone, we all had a good time. Also the scene in the plastic surgeon's house was great too, with the guy who couldn't move his face, that kept me chuckling too and turned out to be ironic when bug-eyed Kidman showed up all weird looking and mental.

I appreciate that I have been a little hard on the film in places but it is because I am generally a fan of Adam Sandler's, I do look forward to his films and so I reviewed this one based on his others, not based on cinema as a whole because there are way too many critics out there who are way too serious, judging these sorts of films unfairly,  based on some high standard that I am not sure anyone could reach with a comedy. Yes I was a little disappointed but mainly because there weren't enough Sandler touches in it and not because of any bias against people like Sandler.
Still, in the end, it was harmless fun tosh that I don't regret seeing and ended up, over all, being a fun evening out for me, my wife and our friend.

6 out of 10 coconuts
Points from The Wife 7 out of 10

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