A few exceptions aside (i.e. P.T. Anderson’s oddball “Punch-Drunk Love;” Judd Apatow’s critically- drubbed yet touching, poignant “Funny People”), his movies have never really displayed an ounce of maturity, and they most certainly never really challenge your intelligence.
That isn’t necessarily a criticism. It just is what it is. His movies are usually funny, often hilarious (“You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” is my personal favorite, but something tells me that I was probably the movie’s target demographic), but I’d be lying if I said that they didn’t all have the same plot: Likable but sarcastic shlub with anger management issues has to (pick a plot, any plot, with lots of fart, poop, and fart jokes) in order to redeem himself.
They’re not rocket science.
In fact, most of his movies, let’s face it, are pretty stupid, but at least you don’t hate yourself in the morning for laughing at it.
And personally, that’s probably just the way Sandler likes it.
He plays to his strengths. While some critics, like Roger Ebert for one, might think it’s a waste of talent, but come on: Pacino’s been screaming his way through movies for nearly twenty years, and look at the continuing accolades he’s been receiving (two—count ‘em!—two Emmy awards!!)
When Sandler is on, he’s one of the funniest guys out there.
And in his latest, “Just Go with It,” he’s more charismatic than he’s ever been.
The plot revolves around his plastic surgeon Danny Maccabee (that last name sounds awfully familiar, but I’ll chalk it up to coincidence) who uses a wedding ring to land women in the sack, much to his best friend’s/assistant’s (played by a lovely Jennifer Aniston) chagrin. When he finally meets the supposed woman of his dreams (played by an awful, flat newcomer, Brooklyn Decker), and she discovers his wedding ring, he enlists his long-suffering gal pal, a divorced mother-of-two, to play his wife.
The “story,” as it were, is, more of less, predictable. Yet, the playful, sometimes sexy chemistry between Sandler and his co-star, Aniston, who only gets more beautiful and talented with age, is often sweet and endearing.
Decker aside, Nick Swardson, a Sandler regular, play’s the latter’s horny cousin with a penchant for using phony German accents, Nichole Kidman (who’s beginning to look more and more like one of those fake, lifelike, Barbie Doll-ish Stepford Wives she played, nearly seven years ago) as a long-time rival of Aniston, and Dave Matthews, in an utterly surprising comedic turn, plays Kidman’s husband, who, natch, invented the iPod, round out a great supporting cast.
The stand-out, among the supporting cast, is the young Bailee Madison, who nearly steals the show from, well, everyone, as one of Aniston’s two spunky kids. This girl is a natural, in drama and, now, comedy. If you haven’t seen her blazing performance in 2009’s “Brothers,” as Toby Maguire’s grief-stricken daughter, check it out. Her performance, and the film, is absolutely wonderful.
The movie, directed by Sandler’s usual helmer, Dennis Dugan, is so light-as-a-feather, you have to do some major noggin-scratching to remember the names of the characters (though, one of them, you’ll be using well into the next decade) but it’s all in good fun. You can tell that Sandler, Aniston, and company, had a blast making it, and that can be a very infectious quality.
As far as the film’s biggest comedy set-pieces, not all of them stick, but more often than not, they work.
It’s just fun, mindless entertainment.
And for once, Sandler gives us a convincing romantic lead performance, rather than merely playing the same likable lug that needs to be given a chance. Hell, I’ll admit it: In “Just Go with It,” he’s actually pretty sexy.
And, like Pinocchio, he’s proving himself to be a real man, rather than just a boy with something to prove.