It seems that it doesn’t actually matter what Adam Sandler does or how many of his movies get panned, they still continue to make money. Last year’s Grown Ups, despite having all the charm of a desiccated cockroach made $270m. Just Go With It plays out in a similar vein and will test the patience of even the most optimistic of cinema goers.
Adam Sandler plays Danny, a wealthy plastic surgeon who routinely uses a wedding ring in order to pick up women. After 20 years of successful philandering his plan backfires when he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), who finds the ring in his pocket after a night together and goes ballistic. Instead of coming clean about his duplicity, Danny digs himself in deeper when he tells her that he’s getting a divorce and subsequently convinces his long-suffering assistant Katherine (Aniston) to pose as his wife.
After a ridiculous series of events, the three of them end up in Hawaii accompanied by Katherine’s children (Bailiee Madison and Griffin Gluck – now ostensibly Danny’s children) and Danny’s best friend Eddie (long time Sandler collaborator Nick Swardson), who’s tagged along pretending to be a Katherine’s new lover – a heavily accented Swedish (or German, it’s hard to tell) geek who sells sheep online.
Directed by Dennis Dugan (who’s no stranger to Sandler films both good and bad), Just Go With It lacks humour, wit or sense. But it seems Dugan’s going to have the last laugh as his last film Grown Ups was also set in Hawaii. It might be a cookie-cutter film with little merit but he spent three months filming it in a tropical paradise – he clearly knows something we don’t.
It’s reliant, as you’d expect, on obvious sight gags (look a woman with a massive eyebrow), slapstick (people getting hit in the nuts is a prerequisite for any Sandler comedy), and Sandler’s typical over-reactionary hot-headedness, none of which succeed in raising a smile.
It’s not all bad. Jennifer Aniston can do rom-com in her sleep and she has some surprising chemistry with Sandler but for the most part she’s relegated to the straight man, cleaning up his messes like a mother after her infant’s sick.
Sandler’s rapport with the kids is actually quite convincing; scenes in which they negotiate the terms of their complicity as well as pose for staged family photographs are probably the best in the film but Baillee Madison is unbearable from the get go. Deciding early on that she’s going to affect a Mary Poppins-esque English accent, her nasal cor-blimey-guvnor cockneyisms and relentless precociousness are a constant teeth-grinder.
Worse is Swardson, who, having now invented a persona for himself as a sheep-farmer from Sweden called Dolph Lungren (don’t ask) is drawn into a ridiculous scene where he has to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a choking sheep. It’s about as funny as it sounds.
Even more bewildering is the appearance of Nicole Kidman as Katherine’s old ultra-competitive sorority sister which leads to yet more lies (this time from Katherine). With so many conflicting stories floating about, you’d think the comedy would come fast and easy but all we get is a hula off – an excuse for the female stars to show off how much time they’ve spent in the gym. After last week’s Oscar-nominated Rabbit Hole, it’s a baffling cameo.
Just Go With It is a derivative, lazy comedy, almost completely devoid of laughs. Even slow motion bikini shots of Brooklyn Decker can’t save this one.