Just Go With It
by Richard von Busack
Like all Adam Sandler movies, Just Go With It has an unignorably creepy aspect. Sandler is as truculent as Jerry Lewis in his “scary Jerry” mode, the dead eyes getting deader over the years. The quieter he gets, the more menacing he is. In courtship with Jennifer Aniston, he’s like Harvey Keitel trying to soothe Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.
Sandler is Danny, a LA plastic surgeon, who keeps romance casual by pretending to be married. One night he meets the perfect girl, the stacked-up Palmer (the hard-faced swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker); after a night of sex, she finds Danny’s wedding ring and is outraged. Danny is forced to create an imaginary wife, to be played by his divorced-with-children secretary Katherine (Aniston). Matters worsen when Palmer and Danny go to Maui, accompanied by his “ex-wife”, his two “kids” and the ex-wife’s “lover,” Danny’s dopey cohort Eddie (Nick Swardson).
It’s a remake of Cactus Flower (1969), in turn sourced from a French farce by Pierre Barrilet and Jean-Pierre Gredy; Potiche, a film version of their play, is screening at Cinequest 21 in San Jose. The flowering cactus (Ingrid Bergman in the original) would be Aniston, whose TV personality underplaying is as delicate as this movie gets.
Hitting 45, Sandler is looking to the future. Two separate references to Cary Grant (as well as a dirty version of the “pass the orange” sequence from Charade) indicates Sandler is trying to get classy. The poop jokes seem to have been jammed in during the rewrite, in the same way DJ Lobsterdust rammed in rhythm tracks onto the soundtrack’s series of hits by The Police.
The farce structure is less of a one-line situation than most Sandler. It tries to complicate matters by throwing in an extra character: Nicole Kidman, as a reviled former friend of Katherine’s. Kidman is here because she clearly wanted to do something popular, broad and mean. Ultimately, Kidman—like any woman isolated on screen in a Sandler movie—is there to be humiliated.
Of the two kids wrangled here, Bailee Madison might amount to something. Her joke is that she has acting ambitions. Like Bart Simpson, she likes to do a terrible Artful Dodger accent to show off her chops. Kazuhiro Tsuji’s makeup for the disfigured overly-plastic surgeried cases at a Malibu party is fascinatingly alarming: the prosthetics are essential to this comedy’s more interestingly ugly side.