Attacking an Adam Sandler comedy is like shooting fish in a barrel. There’s simply no sport in it. No challenge, no test of the reviewer’s analytical skills. All need be said is that it’s awful. The latest release from the inexplicably popular “comedian,” “Just Go With It,” is an exception. It achieves a rancidness far beyond all his other misogynistic mash-ups of groin kicks, poop jokes and juvenile, homophobic characters.
Attacking an Adam Sandler comedy is like shooting fish in a barrel. There’s simply no sport in it. No challenge, no test of the reviewer’s analytical skills. All need be said is that it’s awful.
“Just Go With It,” the latest from the inexplicably popular “comedian,” is an exception. It achieves a rancidness far beyond all his other misogynistic mash-ups of groin kicks, poop jokes and juvenile, homophobic characters. And it’s not because “Just Go With It” is any grosser than the others. It’s because it’s the first Sandler movie I can remember that’s so unmitigatedly boring.
Stale, too, as Sandler and company remain stuck in the 1990s, the halcyon days of pratfalls, bad German accents and female sex objects sporting breasts bigger than their brains. It was also a time when Sandler was young, handsome and, yes, edgy. Critics may have hated the majority of his movies, but at least Sandler wasn’t afraid to break the boundaries of scatological humor.
Now, though, he just looks pathetic, as he desperately clings to the memories of his glory days as tightly as Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Michael Douglas cling to theirs in the action genre. What’s sad is that not a one of them seems to have a clue about how ridiculous they appear attempting to pull off the acting equivalent of a comb-over.
Compounding your frustration is the fact that deep down Sandler is a pretty terrific actor. Rent “Punch-Drunk Love” or “Reign Over Me” and see what I mean. Like Eddie Murphy and other aging, passe comedians, Sandler should give up the ghost and start challenging himself in more sophisticated fare the way Bill Murray has so gracefully done.
Even if those endeavors failed, they would be far more rewarding for him – and us – then reprising the role of the big-hearted narcissist for what seems like the hundredth time. Guys like Sandler’s Danny Maccabee, a renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who freely indulges his predatory instincts when it comes to hunting and bagging sex goddesses.
Even though Danny is a good-looking, well-establish doctor with loads of money, he still feels it necessary to wear a fake wedding band to lure his curvy, blonde prey into his wicked web. We’re supposed to feel good about this because it’s a form of revenge after being emasculated years ago by his fiancée on the day they were to be married.
Vowing to never again have his heart broken, Danny spends the next two decades soothing the hurt by compromising the virtue of every woman he meets. Then, as only a hack Hollywood screenwriter like Allan Loeb (“The Dilemma”) could imagine, on the one day Danny forgets to wear his ring, the aging horn-dog meets the girl of his dreams in 23-year-old Palmer Dodge, played to the consistency of cardboard by the miraculously well-endowed Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Brooklyn Decker.
They meet at a party, have sex on the beach and wake up the next morning lying in the sand looking more gorgeous than the night before. Then, she accidentally finds the fake wedding ring in his pocket, forcing Danny to put his fab fibbing skills to the test. He tells her he is indeed married, but is in the process of divorcing the cheating shrew.
Palmer, naturally, wants to meet the lovely non-existent ex, forcing Danny to hurriedly conjure up a wife. And as luck would have it, his nurse, Katherine, looks just like Jennifer Aniston. Mind you, not the Jennifer Aniston with the long locks and killer bod. No, the Jennifer Aniston with the pulled-back hair and unflattering nurses wardrobe.
If you’re starting to acquire a sense of deja vu it’s because deep down somewhere inside “Just Go With It” is an attempt by director Dennis Dugan (a Sandler regular) to remake “Cactus Flower,” the 1969 comedy in which Walter Matthau portrayed a womanizing dentist, Ingrid Bergman his matronly assistant and an Oscar-winning Goldie Hawn as the geezer’s barely legal fiancée. But the plot is the only thing the movies share.
Where “Cactus Flower” was funny and charming, “Just Go With It” is humorless, crass and dumber than a box of hammers, all of which you’d love to fling at the screen. It’s not that “Just Go With It” is painful to sit through, it’s torturous. There were times I swear I thought the thing would never end – and that was just in the first 15 minutes. Imagine how restless I grew as the flaccid flick neared the two-hour mark.
The only thing more shocking than the nonstop boredom is the sight of current Oscar nominee Nicole Kidman dropping in for a lifeless cameo as Katherine’s old college chum, Devlin, a name synonymous with dookie among Katherine and her two obnoxiously prepubescent Hollywood kids (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck).
“Devlin” also accurately describes the movie, which grows dumber and more preposterous, as Danny’s little white lie steadily grows faster than Pinocchio’s nose. Thus setting up an alleged madcap third act that necessitates dragging the entire cast, including Danny’s annoying dolt of a cousin, Eddie (hopelessly unfunny Nick Swardson hiding behind a horrid German accent), to Hawaii for no other reason than it was probably a lot of fun for the cast to bask in the sand and sun while relaxing between takes.
Unfortunately, for us, that laissez faire attitude carries over to the screen, as the well-tanned and even more well-toned actors (especially Miss Decker) readily look like they’re ready for a nap. I know the feeling, because I was constantly struggling to keep my eyes open, too. And in the end, I was sorry I did.
Al Alexander may be reached at email@example.com.
JUST GO WITH IT (PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language.) Cast includes Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman and Nick Swardson. Directed by Dennis Dugan. 1 star out of 4