For a guy who turns 45 years old this fall, it’s time for Adam Sandler to grow up. ‘Course, we are talking about an actor who made a movie called Grown Ups which just happened to be one of the most immature projects ever created. So, suffice to say, I ain’t holding out hope.
Now, let it be said, I do like Sandler. The man’s funny. Love him or despise him, there’s no arguing that goofy class clown thing he’s been riding since Saturday Night Live works. True, sometimes it only works for about 45 seconds before it grates like cheese, but it works. He’s also, given the right script, a pretty talented dude. The problem is, he seems to have trouble committing himself to any film that doesn’t allow him, at some point, to act like a four year old.
And before you jump in with “Yeah, what about The Wedding Singer?”… you’re right. That picture did allow Sandler to have his cake, eat it too, frolic about in loopy bathroom humour and still spit out an irresistibly sweet romantic comedy — only that film came out in 1998. And our boy hasn’t been able to pull off the same magic trick since.
You can safely add his latest, Just Go With It to the list of close-but-no-charmer. Oh, the ingredients seem to be in place — I mean, you’ve got Hollywood’s favourite sweetheart, Jennifer Aniston as a co-star, what else do you need?
Well – turns out, you need a funny script. You need likeable characters. And you don’t need to be tripping over every rom-com cliché in the book, especially when you roll around in frat boy gags while on the ground. Any burning questions so far as to why this comedy isn’t a big win?
In Just Go With It, Sandler plays Danny, a plastic surgeon (oh yeah, I forgot … you need a shred of plausibility too) who, thanks to a dose of heartbreak on what should’ve been his wedding day, sports a wedding ring to pick up girls, creating outlandish stories around his fantasy wife to land women. At a party one night, he meets Palmer (supermodel Brooklyn Decker) and falls hard for her. She finds the ring, is horrified … and the charade begins.
Rather than simply talk about a fake wife, Danny has to produce one this time. Katherine (Aniston), his assistant and best friend, somehow agrees to masquerade as his ex-spouse, mistakenly fielding a call from her children while meeting with the couple and … cue awkward Hawaiian vacation for Danny, his new girlfriend and his ‘family.’
If this concept sounds familiar, you’re probably a Walter Matthau fan — he did a movie in the late 1960s called Cactus Flower and if Just Go With It isn’t a re-make, it should be billed as such. And while that picture was much better, Just Go With It isn’t horrible — in fact, it’s a rather pleasant date movie, the kind of comedy that’s exactly what you expect; nothing less and, be assured, nothing more. But as mentioned above, in teaming with his usual collaborator, director Dennis Dugan, Sandler veers off into way too much silly nonsense.
Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give Just Go With It a two and a half. The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.
Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.