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Just Go With It (Dennis Dugan, 2011)


Adam Sandler, never the most motivated of screen presences, finds a vehicle suitable to his undersized ambitions in Dennis Duganís Just Go With It. A pseudo-remake of the 1969 big-screen sitcom Cactus Flower, Just Go With It barely extends upon the scenario of its predecessor. In this predictably scripted, often desperate movie, Sandler plays a plastic surgeon who feigns bad marriages in order to win one night stands with women who would otherwise be out of his league. One night, after meeting a young woman (Brooklyn Decker) who he idealizes, he convinces his plain-Jane office assistant (Jennifer Aniston) to pretend that she is married to him. Complications naturally ensue, involving children, lies, and bad German accents. Before long, the action, convoluted as it is, is transposed to Hawaii.


At this point, Just Go With It is stupid fun, at most. Mostly, though, it is just stupid. Then, the unlikeliest of events occurs, and Nicole Kidman, of all people, shows up in a role that she deliciously seizes upon. For the brief time that she is on screen, Kidman gives Just Go With It a funny bone. Playing the rival of Anistonís dowdy single mother, Kidman turns the scriptís thinly conceived caricature into something that feels strangely plausible. Perhaps the autobiographical element of her characterís marriage to a homosexual man is to credit, but somehow Kidman manages to be self-deprecating even as she single-handedly works to save this sinking ship. From making plastic surgery jokes to hula dancing, she seems willing to do anything it takes to make this dreck work. In a film that gets so much of its comedy from poop jokes, Kidmanís skewering of her own icy, determined persona is a genuine breath of fresh air.


Still, Kidman is only present sporadically in Just Go With Itís second half, likely leaving viewers as desperate as the film itself to generate laughs throughout the rest of the run time. Sandler, for all of his public acceptance as a comic genius, contributes little here, playing something of a straight man to the zaniness that surrounds him. Even more bizarrely, the film squanders any insight that might come about from his characterís central lie. As Just Go With It (a title that is entirely indicative of the laziness within) winds down, it does so without any character receiving any form of comeuppance or even a mild moral awakening. Itís as if everyone involved, with the exception of Kidman, would gladly have you forget the film the moment it ended.



Jeremy Heilman