Sunday, February 20, 2011

At the Movies: Just Go with It

The bf and I finally made it to see Just Go with It last night. Full of color, sunshine (thank you, Hawaii), and Adam Sandler humor, it was the fun, light-hearted romantic comedy I'd expected. I think the bf may have liked it even more than I did, if his bouts of laughter were any indicator.

For those of you who haven't read my other movie reviews, I'm known as a bit of a spoiler. So, SPOILER ALERT. For those of you who already knew that, I apologize for the interruption. Now that that's out of the way:

The movie begins with a flashback of Danny's (Sandler's) wedding day. Big-haired and big-nosed, Danny overhears his bride-to-be cackling about what a loser he is to her bridesmaids. We can only assume that he jilted her because the next scene features Danny, still wearing his tux and wedding ring, sitting alone at a bar when the "it girl" of the night approaches him. He tells her his hard luck story and they leave together, to the horror of all the other guys who've been chasing her. Emboldened by this fluke, Danny continues wearing his wedding ring to lure younger women into one night stands. Despite this sleazy behavior, you can't help but see Danny as a wounded nerd in shark's clothing. (I almost said wounded sheep but thought better of it considering that particular animal's role later in the movie. I won't go into it, leaving you at least one suprise.)

Fast forward to present-day Danny. A wealthy forty-something plastic surgeon, he's shed his enormous nose but not his philandering. The most constant woman in his life is his salt-of-the-earth assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), an unassumingly pretty divorcee with two kids. Smart and no-nonsense, she has no qualms about chiding her boss for his womanizing ways, illustrating the easy camaraderie between them.

But the story doesn't get rolling until Danny meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a blond bombshell schoolteacher who demands to meet his soon-to-be ex-wife before beginning a relationship with him. That's right. Palmer doesn't find out about Danny's fake wedding ring until after they hook up, and unlike the women before her, she's less than charmed. Danny turns to Katherine for advice, and she helps him hatch a scheme in which she plays his future ex-wife. In true My Fair Lady fashion, the glasses come off, the shopping begins, and Katherine shows up for lunch with Danny and Palmer exuding Aniston's easy glamour.

Despite a comedy of errors, the meeting is a success. The farce should end there but doesn't on account of Katherine taking a call from one of her kids. Promoted from soon-to-be-swinging-single to soon-to-be-single-dad, Danny finds himself bound for Hawaii with Palmer, Katherine, the kids, and his odd cousin Eddie (the ever-creepy Nick Swardson) - all because Katherine's son complains that Danny never took him there to swim with the dolphins. I always think movies are better when the characters go on vacation. Well, funny movies in which the hilarity can be heightened by unfamiliar luxury surroundings. (Serious movies not so much. In those, foreign locales are often prime sites for characters to be killed. Or cheat on their spouses. Or have very unfunny life-changing revelations.) Just Go with It is no different, brimming with pina colada-fueled catastrophes. Highlighting the hijinks are Nicole Kidman, who plays Devlin, Katherine's college arch enemy, and Dave Matthews, who serves as her equally annoying husband. Determined to impress Devlin, Katherine introduces herself as Danny's wife instead of his assistant. This, of course, complicates the whole ex-wife story created for Palmer's benefit while solidifying Katherine's relationship with Danny. Simultaneously masquerading as his almost ex-wife and current happily married wife undeniably draws her closer to him, which as any romantic comedy fan knows, is ultimately what she wants. But she doesn't come off as conniving. Katherine's simply known Danny a long time, and they have a comfy rapport that's increasingly shown to be chemistry.

I think you probably know how this one ends up.

The critics were really hard on Just Go with It. But then, aren't they hard on everything? In this case the main targets were bathroom humor, manipulative characters, and lazy scripting. One almost-kind reviewer even went as far as to say "Oscar material it isn't." I think we already knew that. And honestly, who cares? After a week on the clock people don't want to solve life's problems. They want to laugh and see happy endings.

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