For one magic moment, Jennifer Aniston looks into Adam Sandler’s eyes — and we buy it.
Her character is reciting a list of what she loves about his character, and even though they’re in a fake marriage on a “fake-cation,” just doing this to compete with a mushier couple who do this sort of “What I love about you” affirmation, it works. Aniston’s eyes mist over and Sandler seems almost like the sort of guy who could get that girl.
But that moment is rare in “Just Go With It,” an uphill struggle of a farce built on the winning combo of two comic actors who seem to be able to make even the worst comedy a hit. It’s a rarely amusing movie overwhelmed by grating kids, unfunny sidekicks, halfhearted Sandler funny voices and a co-star who seems more fearful of smiling with each passing year.
There is nothing about Adam Sandler that suggests bedside manner, “successful plastic surgeon” or even college graduate. But Dr. Danny Maccabee’s daffy scenes with patients whose breast implants have burst or whose face-lifts have left them with one eyebrow higher than the other manage a snicker.
In a prologue, we’ve seen how Danny, then sporting a comically oversized nose, learned that the woman he was about to marry 20 years ago was just after him for his money. He vowed never to have his heart broken again. How? He keeps the wedding ring he never got to use just for bar hookups with much younger women only interested in an uncomplicated fling with a doughy, dull married man.
Then he meets a 20-something schoolteacher, Palmer (the stunning Brooklyn Decker), and he needs to up the ante on the lying. Because she’s Miss Right. He tells her he’s getting a divorce. She wants to meet the soon-to-be-ex-wife. And that’s where Katherine, Dr. Danny’s long-suffering, longtime single-mom assistant, comes in.
Unlikely scenarios pile up as Danny bribes Katherine, then her kids to “Just Go With It,” lie with him in an effort to fool Palmer so that she’ll be the lucky duck who marries the doctor.
A third-act appearance by Nicole Kidman as an old college rival of Katherine’s sets off sparks. Kidman brings it. But she’s paired with the rocker Dave Matthews, who could only be called an “actor” in an Adam Sandler movie.
Whatever the virtues of Sandler’s house-hack director, Dennis Dugan, they are ill-suited to a romantic comedy co-starring Aniston, ill-suited to a romantic comedy aiming for a PG-13 rating. It was an ill wind that advised this cast and crew to “Just Go With It.”
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Brooklyn Decker, Nick Swardson, Bailee Madison
Credits: Dennis Dugan
Running time: 1:57