Adam Sandler’s career has come a long way in a short time. The guy who got his start as Opera Man on “Saturday Night Live” eventually became much better known for outrageous stuff like “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison.” He hit a slow spot but now seems drawn to producing in addition to acting, evidenced by the recent Columbia Pictures release “Grown Ups.” Is Sandler still funny and worth watching? Absolutely. Has his recent work reflected a desire to change his image? No doubt.
Jennifer Aniston’s career has also come a long way in a short time. The lady who gained worldwide recognition for her role on that show so many people watched called “Friends” eventually moved from an apartment to the big screen, but kept it light and funny in things like “Office Space” and “Marley & Me.” While she got the job done in “Management” but fell flat on her face in “The Bounty Hunter,” she’s at least trying to find her footing away from the comforts and popularity television brought to bear.
These two recognizable faces connect in “Just Go With It,” a Columbia Pictures release that isn’t polished but doesn’t miss the target entirely. Sandler and Aniston have quite a bit to do with this film’s successes and its short comings, but they’re both awkward enough in general that they can work well along side one another. “Just Go With It” requires eager audiences to do just that in order to completely enjoy what it brings to the table.
Sandler plays Danny, a successful plastic surgeon who made it through one marriage and divorce rough enough to last him a lifetime. His failed investment actually still pays off, however, as he uses it to seduce other attractive women into the bedroom. His in lab assistant and office manager Katherine (Aniston) is the yin to his yang, providing a reasonable voice amidst his often outlandish lifestyle perspective. But after Danny meets a smoking hot math teacher named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) at a hot to trot southern California party, he knows he’s met the one. Once she accidentally discovers his wedding ring, he spins a web of lies to keep her happy.
Dropping lies like bad habits is never good, but especially not when the lies involve Katherine’s children Maggie (Bailee Madison) and Michael (Griffin Gluck). As Danny further incorporates these three into his goofy story, his cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson) gets involved, and Palmer demands to see Danny’s family and hear from the sources themselves the truth about why they no longer want to be involved with him.
Everyone eventually winds up in Hawaii where Katherine, acting under the fake name Devlin (stolen from an arch enemy in college), sees the real Devlin (Nicole Kidman) and her husband Ian (Dave Matthews…yeah, that Dave Matthews). In order to finally outdo her former rival, Katherine spins her own lies and incorporates Danny. “Just Go With It” follows these interconnected stories as they wind up bringing Katherine and Danny together rather than apart.
If there’s a weak point in “Just Go With It,” it is that you can pick out its path and ending from a mile away. There’s no way that Danny can keep himself completely clean forever, and Katherine is too solid a woman to not want something better. Simultaneously, you can feel the bond the pair has going on, and it’s not hard to see that they’ll wind up together in the end. Movies like this come along now and then, and it’s that familiarity and predictability that make them only interesting at a surface level. Sure, they’re charming because everybody gets a victory in the end, but knowing it’s coming before it even begins sort of kills the atmosphere.
“Just Go With It” isn’t a totally lost cause, however. Sandler and Aniston actually complement one another pretty well. He’s only mildly obnoxious and she’s only mildly oblivious to the world around her. Their chemistry exists throughout, even if it’s only in small doses. Decker is super gorgeous, but that aside, doesn’t really have to do much to contribute to the story other than be oblivious enough to see that what’s unfolding around her is a big pile of lies.
In this case, maybe the real stars are Katherine’s kids. They’re cute and have a few sharply rude lines, but not enough to make you roll your eyes and wonder if they’re just in place to take up space. They mature as “Just Go With It” runs its course, and while they’re not critical to how things wind up playing out, they hold their ground when compared to other excessively rude and obnoxious kids in films like this one. They’re more charming and less annoying, giving them two automatic pluses.
The laughs “Just Go With It” has in place are occasionally well written, but many are situational at best. It’s entertaining to watch the leads duke it out and really add multiple layers to the fake personalities they’re generating, but whether or not this is enough to fulfill a 116-minute run time is up in the air. “Just Go With It” is more cute and charming than it is funny, but even those two adjectives water down its value because it’s too darn predictable.
Director Dennis Dugan did just enough to keep “Just Go With It” from being an R rated film, and while it’s probably more risky than some parents might prefer their younger ones to see, it’s more wholesome than at least two-thirds of what’s on primetime television these days. It’s mostly warm, but there is very little wow factor to work with, and when combined with the film’s really predictable outcome, “Just Go With It” comes up just short.
Columbia/Sony have executed well with “Just Go With It,” and as the film’s last half takes place in bright, sunny Hawaii, this is a good thing. The film’s 1080p 1.85:1 High Definition video transfer is vivid a clear, especially in scenes where characters populate the foreground while water, mountains or beautiful sunsets take up the background. There’s little to no film grain, especially in transition scenes. Additionally, bright colors leap with a rich sharpness while darks are bleak but not bland. Visually, there are many good things happening here.
“Just Go With It” is probably 90% spoken words and 10% background music. Other natural background noise isn’t really prevalent, but all lines and emotional moments come through just fine. The film’s soundtrack is diverse, but not necessarily memorable (heck, they’ve got at least three references to N’Sync…remember those guys?) stuff. It’s not hard to pick up any audio, which is unsurprising but simultaneously underwhelming. All together, the English 5.1 DTS-High Definition Master Audio soundtrack is fine. A French 5.1 DTS-HD MA option, as well as 5.1 Dolby Digitals in Spanish and English Audio Description, accompanies it. Subtitle options include English, French and Spanish.
A healthy offering here, including deleted scenes, three featurettes, a gag/blooper reel (that’s really entertaining, by the way), some behind the scenes looks at shooting in Hawaii, a few commentaries and more. Blu-ray exclusives include eleven additional minutes of deleted scenes and nine more featurettes. A standard definition DVD also wraps up the combo pack.
A Final Word:
I liked “Just Go With It” more than I thought I would, but it didn’t floor me by any means. It’s worth a look if you seek a few mostly harmless laughs, but beyond that, you might come up wanting something more.