Friday, February 11, 2011

Just Go With It

A year from now when I look back at the films of 2011, I will remember Just Go With It for one dubious reason alone: it is one of two "comedies" I've ever seen in which I literally didn't crack a smile during its entire duration.

Just Go With It
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nick Swardson

Just Go With It actually impressed me. I was expecting it to be terrible, and it was somehow worse: it was unwatchable. Every character is unlikeable, every beat is telegraphed, and worst of all, it was painfully unfunny. I know this might offend some people, but Just Go With It targets an entire subset of the population I never want to encounter: the absolute dumbest, trashiest crowd who cackles at nutshots and roars with raucous laughter at jokes that could have been written by a 10-year-old. It's almost hard to hate the movie when people next to me are giggling like idiots as a child runs his head into Sandler's balls in the equivalent of a Chuck E. Cheese's and yells, "Mommy, that man put his pee pee on my face!", because there is clearly an audience out there for this kind of "comedy". But it's the worst possible audience, and the few douchebags sitting next to me laughing are the reason the cinematic landscape is filled with this type of bullshit year after year while the studios laugh all the way to the bank and executives pat themselves on the back for another job well done.

The marketing for this film goes out of its way to reach out to a male audience. Along with objectifying women in the most blatant way possible (slow motion shots of model Brooklyn Decker coming out of the water in a bikini while everyone stares slack-jawed), commercials command men to "tell your girlfriend it's a romantic comedy," implying that secretly the film is actually something else, perhaps interesting or different from what we expect. Unfortunately that's not the case at all - if you told your girlfriend it's a romantic comedy, you'd just be telling her the truth. And not only that, it's the worst kind of romantic comedy, one with a formula more stale than a month-old bag of pretzels. And whatever, Sony: if it's a romantic comedy, that's fine - but don't act like you're letting us in on something and then give us a pile of cinematic crap with zero redeeming qualities. Take your bait-and-switch tactics and shove 'em.

I'm not one of those people who will try to claim Sandler has never been in anything good before. I dug Funny People (though it was about an hour too long) and I found many of his early films legitimately interesting from a character standpoint (even if he plays overgrown man-children in many of them). But in recent years, the guy's been making movies that look more like the fake movies from the filmography of his character in Funny People than real films. Here, he's the same character he's played in almost every movie of the past decade, with no attempt to separate himself from that stereotype in any way. If this is one of America's favorite box office comedy stars, I weep for our country.

In a plot so stupid it makes my head hurt, a jilted Sandler uses a fake wedding ring to get women (just like that episode of "Seinfeld"). He flaunts his conquests to his assistant (Aniston, who we're supposed to think is average looking), a single mom with two kids. But when Sandler meets a 23-year-old elementary school teacher named Palmer (Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker in her feature debut), he inexplicably seems to have decided this is the woman of his dreams. Though since they have no real connection or meaningful conversation, this point seems questionable at best. Of course, complications quickly arise when Palmer discovers his fake ring. Instead of telling her that he's divorced - common sense, right? - Sandler reveals that he's about to be divorced, and through a series of nonsensical demands presumably justified by the writers just speaking the title of this movie aloud, Palmer wants to meet everyone involved (and apparently spend as much time with them as possible). Naturally, a fake family dynamic is set up, and who better to use than Aniston as Sandler's fake wife?

This movie is so bad I found it hard to convince myself it was a real movie while watching it. The acting was so forced from everyone - including vets like Sandler and Aniston - and there was no passion to be found in the entire thing. Technically speaking, it looked horrible: flat, visually uninteresting, staged. A majority of the movie takes place in Hawaii (the result of yet another series of unfunny jokes and Sandler's character's seemingly unending bank account), and there director Dennis Dugan (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The Benchwarmers) managed another improbable feat: making a movie with Hawaiian locations boring to watch. The actors seemed as if they were simply going through the motions, but it's even worse when you can tell there's no zest from the crew behind the scenes either.

While Sandler and Aniston gave performances in line with their recent work, model Brooklyn Decker rose to the challenge of filling out a bikini - and that's about it. Her actions make the least sense of any character in any movie in recent memory. Comedian Nick Swardson brought his usual over-the-top brand of comedy to his role, but showed no spark of life even in the most ridiculous scene, which involved performing CPR on a poorly designed fake sheep. Watching Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews was akin to seeing someone you love being tortured. Sure, they played despicable characters, but their acting was downright reprehensible. And many of you are probably aware of my hatred of most children in movies, but the two that are featured here are some of the most annoying in cinematic history (one speaks in a repulsive faux-British accent the whole time, the other is quiet but a potential sociopath).

If you've seen two or three rom-coms in your life, you know exactly how this is going to end. Mark Twain once said, "I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which really happened." Unfortunately for us all, this movie really happened. If you respect your time on Earth, you won't waste it on Just Go With It. Until next time...


Panther Joe said...

Fills the bikini? That top looks a couple sizes too small.

And please tell me you are doing a review for the new Big Momma's House.

Ben Pearson said...

I will not be seeing Big Momma's House 3. I haven't seen the second and wouldn't feel comfortable judging the series based on an incomplete reading of every piece of its complex puzzle.

Actually I think it just looks like utter garbage.

The Real Alan Trehern said...

Wait, so you've seen the first BMH? You might as well watch the other two then; there's really no redemption here.