Being a fan of Adam Sandler movies is a lot like being a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. They let you down every year without fail, yet you retain your fandom and optimistically give them shot after shot due to ingrained loyalty based on fading childhood memories that – at some point in time – they were actually good.
It’s with this mindset that I found myself overjoyed that Just Go With It isn’t as much of a disaster as last year’s Grown Ups or that 2005 remake of The Longest Yard. Sandler’s newest romantic comedy, which amounts to an over-40 sex symbol fantasy camp due to the presence of bikini-sporting co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman, is adamantly mediocre while always watchable.
I’ll easily forgive that the plot is based on the extreme idiocy of every character, some of whom are holding eye-gougingly dumb secrets from the others, but it’s tough to be at peace with the painful lack of laughs. What’s even tougher to stomach is having to watch Sandler pull out an inspired bit of lunacy only to repeat it three more times, running it into the ground so hard you’d expect it to strike oil.
Sandler plays a womanizer who hangs out at bars wearing a fake wedding ring, which gets women to let down their guard and become one-night stands. He’s secretly been in love all along with his single-mother assistant (Aniston), but decides instead that he wants a relationship with his latest fling (Brooklyn Decker), a rare woman he seduces without his wedding ring trick. When she finds the ring in his pants pocket, he decides to craft an elaborate lie that grows into him being on the verge of divorce with Aniston and father of her two kids. Sandler coerces Aniston and the kids to lie to Decker, and so begins the ill-fated charade.
This leads to a Hawaiian vacation, for no good reason except for the fact that Sandler has no doubt longed for another paid vacation there since making 50 First Dates. There, Aniston runs into her former sorority frenemy (Nicole Kidman), to whom she feels she must prove she’s married to Sandler in order to seem happy and successful.
There have been many episodes of Full House that packed in more funny moments per minute than Just Go With It. But there are just enough touches of the old Sandler – the one who was such an outrageous crack-up throughout the 1990s – to keep you halfway-eagerly coming back to whatever nonsense he creates next year. There are also more than enough finger-gun-to-the-head moments to make you resent the fact that you had to fall so hard for Sandler in his five good movies that you’re willing to suffer through his 10 bad ones.
Starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker and Nicole Kidman. Written by Allan Loeb, Timothy Dowling and I.A.L. Diamond, based on a French play adapted by Abe Burrows, originally by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy. Directed by Dennis Dugan. PG-13. 150 minutes.