Feb 23, 2011

Just Go With It [12A]

Dir: Dennis Dugan
I've mentioned before, I think, how much I love my job, and I mean it. I get to watch movies, talk about movies and write about movies and call it work, which it barely is. Except on days that I end up sitting through the likes of Just Go With It, a film so hideous that it undermines, if only briefly, not just my faith in cinema but my faith in humanity as a whole.

Just Go With It is another in the long recent lines of so called romantic comedies which are neither romantic nor funny, and whose main characters, whose relationships we are supposed to be interested in, are among the top 8 percent of the planet's most loathsome non-genocidal people. Adam Sandler (never a good start) plays a plastic surgeon (remarkably this is not the joke) who, after being jilted, wears a fake wedding ring in order to seduce a succession of young women who he never has to call again - RELATEABLE! NOT AT ALL DESPICABLE! Only, guess what, he's fallen for latest one (played by the lovely Brooklyn Decker, who somehow escapes this stinkbomb with a smidgen of dignity). Anyway, she thinks Sandler's married, so he has to get his receptionist (Jennifer Aniston, more entirely plausible casting there) to pose as the wife he's divorcing, and her children to pose as their children. 'Laughs' ensue.

I despise the characters in this film. I hate Sandler's character, yes we've all exaggerated things about ourselves to get close to people we're attracted to, but this guy's entire life is a tissue of lies. Then there's the fact that he's perfectly happy to bribe others into perpetrating this colossal fountain of bullshit with him (all, let's remember, so he can fuck a woman 20 years his junior who thinks he, and everyone in his life, is someone else entirely). The relationship that Sandler's character has with Aniston's children is also troubling; the whole premise of what he involves them in is mentally abusive, and there are a few incidents too where his behaviour comes close to crossing the line into physical abuse - child endangerment; LOL.

Aniston's character is painted as the point of identification for the film's female audience, yet she's just as bad. Not only does she go along with this plan, and her children's participation in it, but she also ends up inventing one of her own when her old college rival (played by Nicole Kidman, demonstrating the comic grace and timing of a smashed cuckoo clock) also happens to be in Hawaii at the same time as Sandler, herself, 'their' kids, Decker and Nick Swardson as  Sandler's cousin (pretending to be Aniston's new German boyfriend - something else she goes along with) are there. It might not be so unbearable sitting through this turgid load of old shit if Sandler and Aniston demonstrated even a scintilla of magnetism, charm or chemistry, but they don't. I don't believe that they even like each other, not least, in Aniston's case, because the script gives her no reason to like Sandler.

This is also a problem when it comes to Brooklyn Decker's character. Decker, a model, works hard in her first substantial role, and she comes off okay; she's great to look at and if the script weren't so fundamentally broken she might be somewhat engaging on screen. Unfortunately... Decker and Sandler have the chemistry of oil and water (best evidenced by the extremely small amount of actual contact they share in the film) and, again, the script gives no reason for these two to be so drawn to each other. They have less than nothing in common, and yet the script insists they are in love, as if it were magic fucking fairy dust that got sprinkled on them (actually, that makes MORE sense than the idea that these people are organically attracted to one another). Of course Decker's character doesn't matter anyway (hence the lack of personality beyond a slightly simpering niceness and a parade of late-90's pop culture jokes - take THAT, 12 years ago!) and as soon as the laughably unconvincing romance between Sandler and Aniston starts brewing she's shunted aside like the magnificently breasted macguffin she is.

The jokes just depress me. Pratfalls, 'funny' accents (including one that pretty much destroys the performance of the usually excellent child actress Bailee Madison) and the expected parade of non-sequiturs and gross out bits (how is it that in less than a year I've seen two movies with a 'comic' set piece revolving around one person shitting in another person's hand?) all make their dreaded regularly scheduled appearances with both the predictability and the comedic effect of a metronome.

Every time I see a film like Just Go With It (a title, or what Dugan said to Sandler about the script?) I die a little inside, because I remember that romantic comedy used to mean The Philadelphia Story, or Sabrina, or When Harry Met Sally, or Say Anything... and now it's not so much a genre as it is a pit into which Hollywood vomits all the worst jokes from decades worth of chewed up scripts, before pouring the resulting slop into 100 minute moulds and excreting them monthly into cinemas. Yeah, sometimes I hate my job.

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