Monthly Archives: March 2011

My Ten Cents On: Just Go with It

Adam Sandler. We all know the guy and what he does. Whether you liked him before or you like him now, I’m pretty sure that somehwere along his career you found him funny. If not from 50 First Dates or Grown Ups, then maybe from Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, or at the very least from his stint with the then-all-star cast of Saturday Night Live.  (note that there is no mention of You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, which though having one of the funniest introductory sequences of all time, crashed and burned quicker than the Hindenburg)

While I know tons of people who have found his comedic style to be growing stale, which may be true for many since he’s practically been playing the same character for the past 15+ years, but you can’t doubt that he is one of the highest grossing comedy stars today, and you don’t get there without being pretty damned funny, or in Sandler’s case recently, surrounding yourself with other funny people.

Just Go with It is one of those movies. Having flown under the radar here in the Philippines, with practically no marketing, this movie suddenly popped into theaters, with most of its audience being people who walk by the cinemas, stare at the list of what’s showing and go: “Huh Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston have a movie together? Okay, we’ve got nothing better to do.” Admittedly that was going through my mind after having watched all the other movies showing at the time. I ended up watching it with a friend, and I have to say, it was a pleasant experience.

The movie’s a romantic comedy about a plastic surgeon who pretends to be married in order to bag women. When he meets this hot, younger girl who falls for him without the whole phony marriage shtick, he thinks he’s found his soul mate. But when she stumbles upon his wedding ring, he is forced to create a story about getting divorced. She insists on meeting the family, so he asks his assistant and her kids to play his family. As you can imagine, the ruse doesn’t go all to plan, and things end up getting a bit out of hand.

Sigh. The problem with trying to be spoiler-free is that I have to be so abrupt with the endings of my synopses. In any case, here’s what I thought of the movie.

The cast is by far the best thing about this movie, as it usually is with most comedies.  I mean, action stars have guns, bullets and explosions to accentuate the action feel of a movie. On the other hand, good comedians can make guns, bullets and explosions pretty funny (Hot Fuzz and Tropic Thunder). And this movie is not lacking in that respect at all. The cast had such strong points with me that I had split it into three categories: great and funny child-actors, beautiful women, the other guys.

+ The Children

The kids definitely stole the show, especially the performance of eleven year-old Bailee Madison (the irony of the name isn’t lost upon me). I’ve seen her in a previous role, as the child version of Hilary Swank’s character in Conviction. The fact that she could turn around from such a dramatic role there to a hilarious performance as a wannabe actress (who for some reason sports a Cockney-British accent) leads me to think that this girl has a bright future ahead (at least as far as child stars go.)

Griffin Gluck, who portrays the younger brother, plays a rather expressionless kid. At first, it did seem like a lack of acting skill, but when they ties it to some mafia humor, it fit the character and it became pretty funny in itself.

Successful comedy walks the fine line between the expected and unexpected. Veer off too far into one side, and it falls flat. I have a lot of respect for comedians, in many ways, its much more difficult to make a good comedy movie over a good drama (which is why I find it unfair that comedies rarely win Best Picture awards, mostly because its the “lower form” of entertainment). Anyway, to illustrate my point about expectations, lets not even start by talking about movies, let’s start with something much simpler. Let’s look at the joke.

A joke is made up, essentially, of two parts: the set-up and the punchline. The set-up plants the expectation, it leads the listener to drawing up conclusions, and the punch-line twists the expectation. If the joke isn’t unexpected enough, its corny, old or lame, if its too unexpected, then no one would get it.

Expected Joke that we’ve all heard before:

Set up: What did one wall say to the other wall?
Punch line: “Meet you at the corner.”

Weird Joke that most of us won’t get:

Set up: You’re Momma’s so dumb…
punch line: she thinks a sunburned zebra is a newspaper!
(from the riddle: what is black, white and read/red all over)

Funny Joke (for me at least):

Set up: A husband and wife were trying to set up a new password to their computer.  The husband says: “Put ‘MY_P***S’  and the wife fell on the ground laughing.
Punch line: on screen, it said:  “Error. Not long enough.”

Okay, sorry, I didn’t give myself a lot of time to find examples. Anyway, going back, it plays with expectations. “Error. Not long enough.” is something you would really see on a computer, so it makes sense, yet is somewhat unexpected in how it would relate to “MY_P***S”. *Sigh* breaking down jokes just isn’t as funny as actually making them.

So after this seqgue, my final point is that, in this movie, they set up the kids well enough to the point that the unexpected behavior made sense, which made them pretty fun to watch.

+ The Ladies

Whether its Brooklyn Decker, Jennifer Aniston, or Nicole Kidman, you will find a hot woman in this movie. I mean, do I really need to say anything else about it? Here. Look at this.

Double Whammy

I think she deserves a Double Whammy of her own.

Yeah. ‘Nuff Said.

+ The Other Guys

Nick Swardson and awesome vocalist Dave Matthews are in this movie, and they are hilarious! Nick Swardson has played peripheral comedy characters in the past, and his over-the-top character as Dolph Lundgren, is worth seeing. Dave Matthews does the singularly most awesome stunt/trick/joke in the entire movie, you’ll know it when you see it, and it is FUUUUNNNYYYYY! I wish he would do more movies.

+ The Soundtrack

If there is anything I will credit to Adam Sandler, its that his movies have great, great soundtracks. This movie was no exception. From the moment Jennifer Aniston walked in to a mash-up of  Tragedy by the Bee Gees and Roxanne by The Police, I was hooked to the music. I don’t think there’s much more for me to say about it, than to get the soundtrack and prepare to be amazed.

This movie isn’t all awesome though, like any Adam Sandler movie, it does have its downside.

– Adam Sandler

Okay, I’ll admit, he’s not my favorite comedian anymore. And he himself is getting pretty stale for my tastes. That being said, he’s a minor minus in this one for me, simply because of the fact that the other people in the movie stood out more than he did, everyone was either funnier, or hotter.

I guess one could argue that Adam Sandler’s like the Snow White/Bella of this movie. Allow me to explain a bit.

Walt Disney, when he came out with Snow White, came up with a really interesting way of telling the story. He made a bland character, with practically nothing going for her, not much personality, and practically doing nothing in the story, and populated the plot with events that just happened to her, because of the colorful characters surrounding the otherwise Empty Shell Character (is there a trope name for this already? coz I’m not sure. Please let me know if it is, or if you don’t, could you tell me how to get it up and get credited for it on tvtropes.org?). Dramatically, this allows people to put themselves in the shoes of the character, and imbibe the events more. Example: Since Bella is so blank with practically no back story, all the teens and soccer moms who read Twilight can easily pretend that Edward and Jacob are falling in love with them instead, it allows them to fill a fantasy. I can see this working on a male perspective, since I wouldn’t mind having Brooklyn Decker and Jennifer Aniston showing interest in me.

It works comically too. A lot of sitcoms have those “normal” people who ground the series and make it easier for audiences to relate. You have, for example, Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother, and Phil Wenneck, Bradley Cooper’s character in The Hangover. They’re generally not as funny on their own, but they are funny insofar as they interact with the crazy people with whom they’re surrounded.

I would give that argument that Sandler is playing that. Except he seemed to resist it. They still had him doing some mediocre jokes, the very beginning is a sad joke that would turn off most people, and is a clear example of what I’m talking about. Basically, Adam Sandler became a plastic surgeon because he has a specific genetic condition, which was the whole joke for the first five minutes of the film, and it fell flat.

There were a few more instances of this, but not so bad as with the movie’s level of…

– CHEESE

The dialogue on the comedy side is funny, but the romance made me squirm in my seat. It was just awkward and cheesy. “I love that… you are the only person I trust completely, that you’re the only person I’ve never lied to.” Dramatic much? I mean, I know we have those sentimental moments, with our best friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, significant others, etc… But they didn’t build the romance element well enough so that you feel like you’re one of them, instead you feel like the third wheel watching the couple whisper sweet nothings while you’re across the table as embarrassed as hell.

It did not help that Adam Sandler was the one saying those things. I mean the romantic stuff was passable in 50 First Dates, if only because the cheese was supplemented by the fact that he stuck with a girl who would forget he existed every morning. You felt for the guy. But here he is, getting his best friend to pretend to be his about-to-be ex-wife and her kids to play his kids, all to get a very hot girl to become his girlfriend. Not quite the hero sandwich to go along with the cheese.

All in all though, the comedy far out-shined the romance, and there was enough funny to go around.

My Cent’s Worth: 8/10

Its a fun movie, one you should check out with your barkada. I don’t think it’ll be good for a 1st, 2nd or even 3rd date though. I’d suggest going for something else for that specific case. But it is a very entertaining movie, and as much as the romance was making me slap my own face, I didn’t see too many other problems with it as a whole. Its just a really funny movie, and I do hope you check it out! :D