Just as most movies follow a specific structure, Happy Madison films seem to have their own formula. In Just Go With It, scenes run on entirely too long, the plot meanders and people are guaranteed to get hurt. Additionally, the comedy typically appeals to the lowest common denominator, deluging audiences with scatological gags and genitalia discussions. The ingredient that makes this recipe work, however, is the film’s steadfast commitment to this direction, stringently acclimating the audience to this brand of entertainment until they too just go with it. Fans of recent Happy Madison films will feel right at home here. The rest should approach this film skeptically.
Earlier in his life, Danny (Adam Sandler) wanted to get married. On his wedding day, however, he discovered that his bride was cheating on him, thought poorly of his family and made fun of his gigantic nose. After canceling the wedding, Danny went to a bar to drown his sorrows and discovered that a man with a good sob story and who pretended to be married could bed incredibly hot, gullible women. Danny – now a cosmetic surgeon – uses this newfound power with impunity until he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) and falls in love. Unfortunately, she discovers Danny’s fake wedding ring, which he has to lie about by explaining that he’s getting a divorce. When Palmer demands that she meet the soon-to-be ex-wife, Danny pulls his assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) and her children into his expanding web of lies. As everyone tries to untangle themselves, they stumble upon some surprising truths.
Whether or not audiences are fans of Sandler films, they have to respect how dense this one is. It’s as if the filmmakers had an unfiltered thought process and built the world and characters of the film with whatever came to mind. This usually means, however, that audiences will have to sit through extended scenes that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the rest of the film, like when a woman visits Danny’s clinic to correct grossly uneven breasts. Later, there’s a prolonged conversation about another character’s penile enlargement. Yet another character speaks with a Cockney accent for no apparent reason other than to make Danny’s lie to Palmer harder to maintain. These fleshed out facets of Danny’s life are interesting on the outset, but are rarely paid off. Nevertheless, the characters do feel like they have lives that extend beyond the script.
The comedy in Just Go With It is hit or miss – mostly miss with a few off-target hits. Unfortunately, the bits run much longer than they need to, like a Saturday Night Live skit, watering down a gag and mitigating the humor. Consider the scene with a woman who visits Danny to get her crooked eyebrows adjusted. The joke is probably good for 30 seconds, but is heroically drawn out for much longer. Later, a character drones on and on about his fake sheep import company, cracking sheep puns in a fake German accent while the audience shifts uncomfortably in their seats. That’s not to say that the film is humorless – the comedy just works best when the characters aren’t trying to be funny and when the gags are quick.
Thankfully, there will be a point when the film wins the audience over. Like working at a job with no beautiful people, the mediocre-looking person suddenly becomes the hot employee. Such is the way with Just Go With It. Once viewers discover the upper limit of the film, jokes become funnier, characters more endearing and the plot more engaging. To be clear, this is not a great script and watching the actors try to make the material work can sometimes be excruciating. Also, the entire third act is inexplicably handled by exposition. But when love and rivalries finally start blossoming audiences will definitely feel invested.
Just Go With It is a long movie and it definitely feels like it, but then it ends abruptly as if the filmmakers suddenly realized how much time had passed. There are, however, a few pleasant surprises along the way, like some truly funny moments and appearances from music and film personalities that add a bit of star power to the film. The highlights aren’t quite enough to unequivocally recommend this film to everyone, but it’s obvious that there’s something watchable underneath the extraneous veneer.