The comedian's latest film, "Just Go With It," offers poop jokes, boob jokes -- and Nicole Kidman hula dancing
“Just Go With It” is an Adam Sandler comedy, which means it bears only a superficial relationship to the customary conventions of moviemaking, and also that there’s no use getting all worked up about that. Now, those who collect pop culture effluvia in their heads (such as me) will be interested to know that this farce about a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who pretends to be married in order to get laid is in some sense a remake of the 1969 Walter Matthau-Ingrid Bergman-Goldie Hawn movie “Cactus Flower,” which was itself based on a play by Abe Burrows which was itself based on a French play. (There will be a quiz.) In other words, Adam Sandler, despite all the all-American gags about poop and men getting kicked in the ‘nads, is a cheese-eating surrender monkey who hates our freedom. Any further questions?
It’s tempting to suggest that Sandler makes such horrifyingly vacuous films, in which absurd gags float around in a killing void resembling outer space, because he is cynical or does not care. I think this is verifiably false. On the contrary, the marketplace has repeatedly proven that the public prefers Sandler in laid-back, recovering-doofus roles where he barely pretends to act, and where such minimal plot and characterization as exist serve only to get us from one ridiculous comic setup to the next. Occasionally Adam gets the drama-school bug and works with some director who isn’t his longtime crony Dennis Dugan, and the results, as in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love” or James L. Brooks’ “Spanglish,” are hotly debated by film critics and ignored by everybody else.
Whatever about its froggy-theatrical-Ingrid Bergman roots, “Just Go With It” is a Sandler-Dugan movie all the way, which means it includes a hula-dancing throwdown between Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman in a Honolulu lounge (officiated by sportscaster Dan Patrick), Dave Matthews picking up a coconut with his ass cheeks, and a small boy taking a crap on an adult man, who then screams about it in a fake German accent. I will not claim that none of those things made me laugh. But I cried too, partly at the realization that Sandler’s particular brand of evil genius lies in taking a painfully stupid joke and pushing it so far that it sometimes transforms into its opposite, like some quantum-physics particle or that Hall & Oates song you hated the first 800 times and now totally love.
You want an example? Damn right you do — I inflicted this movie on myself and now someone’s got to pay. For reasons that don’t even begin to make sense, the 10-year-old that Sandler’s surgeon character pays to pretend to be his daughter in the film (played by Bailee Madison) starts to do her “role” in an atrocious Eliza Doolittle English accent. You know, “Wo’ a bloody bovver” and all. It’s terrible and not funny and a total overload of toxic fake cuteness. But then a supporting character named Eddie (Nick Swardson) shows up, wearing Coke-bottle glasses and doing the aforementioned fake German accent (he is supposedly called Dolph Lundgren, but he isn’t that Dolph Lundgren). And listening to him is so intentionally sub-”Hogan’s Heroes” bad, so inducing-death-wish-in-the-audience bad, that it’s a positive delight to get back to Bailee Madison addressing people as “guvnor” and “mumsie.”
Now, it’s not that the parts of this movie are more significant than the whole, it’s more like there is no whole (unless you take off the “w”). Sure, there’s kind of a plot: Sandler’s lizard-like Dr. Danny Macabee convinces his saucy single-mom assistant, Katherine (Aniston), to pretend to be his almost-ex-wife, so that he can explain the presence of a wedding ring in his jeans pocket to Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), his hot new pile of barely legal hotness. In a scene where people are confessing things that make them sad, Palmer bursts out: “Why did ‘N Sync have to break up?” And let’s show some love for screenwriters Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, because that’s pretty funny! If you’re guessing that Danny will start to have feelings for the more mature Katherine he can’t possibly have for bodacious Palmer, you’re on the right track, of course — and those shards of adult emotion, along with a winning and unassuming performance from the oft-dissed Aniston, make “Just Go With It” feel like the work of Ernst Lubitsch, at least compared to such previous Sandler-Dugan fare as “Grown Ups.” (That was my personal worst film of 2010. This one won’t even be close.)
But I can feel Sandler peering over my shoulder saying “Ernst Lu — what did you just call me?” And he’s right. “Just Go With It” is more than a nonsensical title for a haphazard romantic comedy, it’s almost a divine injunction. Watching Nicole Kidman shtick it up in full ice-bitch mode, wearing a hideous dress that seems to have been assembled from the machines that crush Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times,” or Swardson (as not-that-Dolph Lundgren) giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a sheep, is ever so much more the point of this movie than waiting for Sandler and Aniston’s characters to reach the perfunctory happy-ever-after. I’m not even going to tell you what Kidman is doing in the movie, or why her character’s first name is a euphemism for feces, or why Dave Matthews has to pick up a coconut with those rock-hard glutes. Not because I’m protecting spoilers, or because I’m claiming it’s not funny, in an awful way. More because I choose to start the long process of forgetting right now.
More Related Stories
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
- Amazon introduces fan fiction publishing platform
- Naomi Watts, "Argo," "Wonderstone" among bizarre Teen Choice Awards nominees
- Imprisoned Pussy Riot member declares hunger strike
- The camp-free "Behind the Candelabra"
- Justin Bieber will destroy you if you live-tweet his parties
- Marc Maron on Twitter feud with Michael Ian Black: "We have an understanding"
- "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis to jury: "You should be euthanized"
- Ai Weiwei releases heavy metal music video
- Actually, Beyoncé is a feminist
- Marc Maron and Michael Ian Black's epic Twitter battle
- Cannes: Directing 101 with James Franco
- Welcome to the jungle: The definitive oral history of '80s metal
- Burt Bacharach opens up on daughter's suicide
- Steven Spielberg to produce "Halo" television series
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Twitter torches Dan Brown's "Inferno"
- Brad Pitt keeps breaking his silence on how boring marriage to Jennifer Aniston was
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11