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Just Go With It

…Or Maybe Not

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

It’s been less than a year since Adam Sandler, his production company, Happy Madison, and his favorite director, Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore) have graced moviegoers with another mainstream, big-screen comedy.

Sandler and Dugan’s last collaboration, Grown Ups, succeeded commercially, if not critically, seven months ago. Now, they’re with Just Go With It, a sporadically amusing, mildly funny comedy of the semi-romantic kind. In other words, Just Go With It is another Adam Sandler comedy for Adam Sandler fans.

The film opens twenty-three years ago as Daniel “Danny” Maccabee (Sandler) overhears his wife-to-be reveal she’s only marrying him for the material comfort and financial security he’ll provide as a cardiologist and not his looks. He leaves his bride at the altar, decides to become a plastic surgeon, gets a nose job, and vows never to become romantically attached again. He spends the next two decades using his leftover ring and improbable stories of neglect and abuse to bed impossibly hot women.

Danny never allows his extracurricular activities to interfere with maintaining a successful practice as a plastic surgeon. He relies on his de facto office manager, Katherine Murphy (Jennifer Aniston), to keep the office running smoothly. A romance with the plain-looking Katherine (she wears eyeglasses, not contacts, and does little with her hair) is off-limits. When, however, Danny meets the girl of his dreams, Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), at a party thrown by an acquaintance, Adon (Kevin Nealon), he reconsiders his lifestyle choices. Palmer inadvertently finds the wedding ring he’s used to pick up women for two decades, compelling Danny into the Big Lie that gives Just Go With It the plot-propelling inciting incident: Danny convinces Katherine to be his pretend-soon-to-be-ex-wife as part of his plan to win Palmer’s heart (among other things).

That initial bald-faced lie (he’s married) leads to another bald-faced lie (he’s getting a divorce), and yet another bald-faced lie (he has two children). Danny strikes a hard bargain with Katherine’s children, Maggie (Bailee Madison) and Michael (Griffin Gluck), promising Maggie acting lessons and Michael a trip to Hawaii. The trip eventually pulls in Danny, Katherine, her two kids, Palmer, and Danny’s loopy cousin, Eddie (Nick Swardson), as Katherine’s German-accented faux-boyfriend.

In Hawaii, Katherine runs across her one-time college sorority sister and rival, Devlin Adams (Nicole Kidman), and Devlin’s husband, Ian Maxtone Jones (Dave Matthews), a complication that turns the tables on Danny and Katherine’s faux-relationship.

As Danny’s primary love-interest, Brooklyn Decker fits snugly into the long series of impossibly hot actresses that have functioned as objects of lust for Sandler’s maturity-challenged central characters. Palmer is blonde, she’s buxom, she’s tall, she’s tanned, and she’s prone to wearing cleavage- and form-revealing dresses and bikinis. What’s not to like, or rather lust over, if you’re a red-blooded American male? Sandler obviously knows his male audience well (actually, extremely well). He also understands wish-fulfillment (i.e., average-looking central character, well-above-average female romantic interest).

Just Go With It implies playacting at romance will lead, under certain contrived circumstances, to actual, authentic romance. But, as late-night pitchmen used to say (and probably still say), “That’s not all.” Just Go With It has a far more important life lesson to impart on non-suspecting moviegoers: regardless of your looks or personality, if you’re a wealthy plastic surgeon, then hot women of all ages will be throwing themselves at your feet (and in your bed).

There’s one last lesson screenwriters Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling want to impart to moviegoers (whether said moviegoers care or not), a lesson embedded in all but the most non-conventional romantic comedies, but few, as it turns out, sufficiently engaging to carry yet another Adam Sandler-starring comedy through 116-minutes of screen time.