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The Independent Critic

Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nick Swardson, Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews
DIRECTED BY
Dennis Dugan
SCREENPLAY
Allan Loeb, Timothy Dowling (based on "Cactus Flower," etc.)
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
116 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Columbia Pictures
DVD EXTRAS
Commentary with Adam Sandler, Nick Swarsdon and The Filmmakers;
Commentary with Director Dennis Dugan;
Laughter is Contagious;
Dolph-Not The One From Rocky IV;
The Perfect Couple: Jen and Adam;
Shooting Hawaii;
Grand Wailea Promo
 "Just Go With It" Review 
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I admit it. I like Adam Sandler.

No, I take that back. I love Adam Sandler, a funny guy with a good heart, limited acting range and enough sense to give his audiences what they want while occasionally taking cinematic risks and opportunities to grow creatively.

I've said it before, and I don't mind saying it again. I admire Sandler, an actor whose $3 billion+ in box office receipts have allowed him to surround himself with people he enjoys working with, accepting projects that are for the most part tailor made for his particular gifts, and to build and help maintain the careers of those in his trusted circle.

With the exception of Sandler's dramatic masterpiece Punch-Drunk Love, I have never awarded a Sandler film a 4-star rating and yet, without fail, I have consistently enjoyed Sandler's films for what they are - light, breezy, formulaic, funny, friendly and heart-filled motion pictures in which Sandler plays a character who is, at least according to nearly everyone who knows him, an ever so slight variation of himself. Sandler isn't so much an actor as he is an entertainer, and as an entertainer Sandler simply brings a smile to my face with nearly every cinematic endeavor.

If you're a fan of Adam Sandler, and many of you are, ignore the critics who are practically bringing themselves to orgasm thrashing his latest film, Just Go With It. If you fancy yourself an Adam Sandler fan, then there's little doubt that Just Go With It will make you laugh, feel good and leave the theatre with a smile far beyond that of his last endeavor, Grown-Ups.

Here, Sandler surrounds himself with true "actors" and Just Go With It is all the better for it. While the film certainly doesn't compare, at least from a critical perspective, to the film Cactus Flower upon which it is based, the film is quintessential Adam Sandler in all his goofy, good-hearted and man-child glory.

Sandler is Danny Maccabee, a successful plastic surgeon whose one-time romantic rejection fuels his every interpersonal encounter courtesy of a wedding ring/chick magnet left over from an ill-advised marriage that never actually happened. One night, he connects with Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a 23-year-old schoolteacher hottie but gets zapped by his usual web of lies involving his faux wedding ring. Finally able to convince Palmer that he's on the verge of divorce from "Devlin," he recruits his assistant, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), to pull off his increasingly elaborate ruse that eventually involves her children (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck) and his best friend (Nick Swardson, of course). Before long, everyone is off to Hawaii where Katherine runs into her own long-time nemesis, the "real" Devlin (Nicole Kidman) and her faux beau (Dave Matthews).

Did you follow all that?

Don't worry. This is an Adam Sandler and following the story arc isn't exactly a requirement to sit back and enjoy the film. As the title says, "Just Go With It."

If you can, in fact, just go with it then there's an awfully good chance that you'll find yourself smiling and laughing consistently throughout Just Go With It, which features a relaxed and winning Jennifer Aniston along with a more grounded than usual Sandler for whom it becomes abundantly clear that sparks are really going to fly.

Seriously. You do know how all of this is going to end, don't you?

Sandler's haters, and there are plenty of them to go around including the vast majority of constipated film critics, aren't likely to be convinced of Sandler's comedic greatness or evolution as an actor by anything contained within Just Go With It, a paint-by-numbers romantic comedy featuring Adam Sandler doing what Adam Sandler does and a script by Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling that is VERY loosely based on Cactus Flower but even more concerned with creating scenes and dialogue that will allow Sandler and his co-stars to shine and have a good time doing so.

One critic who shall remain nameless has opined that the film exudes Aniston's disdain for the material. Beyond the complete lack of logic in this observation, Aniston did make a godawful romantic comedy with Gerard Butler after all, Aniston's presence here is a true gift of heart and humor and one can only hope that the gifted and often misused Aniston has finally landed herself in a box-office winner. While one can't quite say that convincing romantic sparks fly here, both Sandler and Aniston have a laid back, friendly persona that works well in conjunction with one another. Aniston seems to bring out of Sandler a more natural, easygoing performance that feels considerably more comfortable than one usually gets from Sandler in vulnerable scenes.

While it's easy to admire that Sandler surrounds himself with a consistent creative community, it's worth noting that Sandler regulars like Rob Schneider and Chris Rock are nowhere to be found here and, rather surprisingly, the film avoids excessive use of the distracting celebrity cameo that has dominated Sandler's recent films. While Nick Swardson is a frequent Sandler collaborator, his appearance here is as a full-fledged character and Swardson is well suited for it.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is Nicole Kidman's appearance, a lightly publicized appearance as a supporting player in which the actress seems to be decompressing from her Oscar-nominated turn in Rabbit Hole and seems to be having a really great time. While there's a sense that Kidman's character is a tad underwritten and doesn't really let her loose with it, Kidman brings a zest and spirit to the entire film that complements Aniston quite nicely.

Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker, yet the latest in Sandler's string of young hotties to play a love interest for the 40+ year-old actor, has a certain Alice Eve quality about her with a mixture of sweetness and sexiness. While Decker doesn't quite have Eve's range of emotion, she generally works fine as part of the ensemble cast.

Frequent Sandler director Dennis Dugan helms Just Go With It, but in reality his only job is to make sure Adam Sandler keeps playing Adam Sandler in the film. Dugan isn't a particularly imaginative director, but for a paint-by-numbers project such as this one he's clearly able to handle Sandler, his talented child actors and getting the best out of his awesome beach locales. The film features an incredible soundtrack of tunes, mostly 80's and 90's with a few mash-ups thrown in for good measure including a rather awesome mash-up of Rihanna's "Umbrella" with General Public's "Tenderness."

While there aren't any award shows in Sandler's future for Just Go With It, neither is the film a drippingly self-indulgent project such as the recent Grown-Ups. Just Go With It is a film that Sandler lovers will love, Sandler haters will hate and film critics will practically foam at the mouth talking about the film's predictability or perceived laziness.

The truth? Sandler does, in fact, stretch himself a bit as an actor here and still manages to give his legion of fans exactly what they want. Screw the critics and the haters...Just Go With It.

You'll be glad you did.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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