Romcom formula comes up lacking in 'With It'

Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unfortunately, you are not going to like “Just Go With It.”

Oops, sorry, that is not quite right. Unfortunately, you are not going to like “Just Go With It” as much as the lady sitting in the row in front of me Sunday afternoon. She laughed enthusiastically and consistently throughout the movie’s two-hour running time. Even when Dennis Dugan’s formulaic comedy took the required two minutes to get “serious” and make its stars — Adam Sander and Jennifer Aniston żż— pretend they were as well. (This moment always comes a little after the three-quarters mark of a rom-com. It’s that moment when the guy and girl realize that they love – wait for it – each other! Oh, man! And they were right in front of one another the whole time!) The lady in front of me laughed through it all. Hard.

She laughed until she was wiping her eyes. It was so ridiculous that a couple sitting a few seats away started laughing, too. That got me going, and I pretty much missed the “serious” part.

You won’t like “Just Go With It” as much as that lady did. Maybe, though, you’ll like it more than you might think based on the previews. Besides “Little Nicky,” Sandler has proven he can be counted on for harmless fun and the occasional laugh. Even if you’re laughing at how much someone else is laughing, that counts!

Sandler really deserves a genre all to himself. Yes, “Just Go With It” is a rom-com (a guilty pleasure of mine). More importantly, though, it is a Sandler rom-com. A Sandrom-com. Admittedly, the title needs work. The point is that when it is Sandler’s name leading the way, when it is his production company (Happy Madison) behind the scenes, there are expectations.

A Sandrom-com should be safe. It should be familiar. Dugan, for example, has directed his share of Sandrom-coms already (“Grown Ups,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” “Big Daddy”). We should know several of the cast, or at least recognize them. That goes for the other stars (Aniston and Nicole Kidman. Check and check.), as well as Sandler’s pals (Nick Swardson, Kevin Nealon, Dan Patrick. Check, check, and check.). Finally, we should laugh from time to time and we should never, ever have to think too hard.

It is settled, then. “Just Go With It” is a standard Sandrom-com.

In case it really matters to you, the gist of “Just Go With It” definitely requires just going with it. Sandler is Danny the successful, womanizing plastic surgeon. His method is sneaky; he wears a wedding ring and then in the bar talks about how awful his ex is. Works like a charm. You will never guess what happens next! He decides he actually likes (like, really likes) a girl. This girl (the blessed, and I don’t mean her acting skills, Brooklyn Decker) finds the fake wedding ring and before Danny has time to think about it, the lies begin.

The lies continue. The lies pile up. They tend to do that. Soon Danny has his assistant (Aniston) pretending to be his fake-ex-wife and her kids are pretending to be their fake kids. His pal (Swardson) gets in on it, too, pretending to be Aniston’s fake new boyfriend. All of this because Danny likes Brooklyn Decker (and no man in the audience will blame him) and the truth gets harder and harder to tell.

I hear you. You are wondering, “Yes, but does he end up with Brooklyn or Jennifer?!” And if you are actually wondering that, then I take it back.

You actually might like “Just Go With It” as much as Ms. Laughs A Lot.

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