Just leave it alone

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2011 - 4:27 PM

Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and a swimsuit model pursue the preposterous in scene after scene.

What odd comedies Adam Sandler makes. They're usually set in a world of sitcom reality, but bristle with in-jokes, surreal gags, absurd relationships and eccentric casting choices. Rather than bidding for our sympathy by playing the underdog, Sandler favors spiky antiheroes, strafing his co-stars with rude machine-gun patter.

These tendencies reach their zenith in "Just Go With It," a romantic comedy in which he plays an opportunistic liar irresistible to gorgeous women. It's as if Sandler is having his midlife crisis onscreen and scripting his own happy ending.

Sandler once again plays a temperamental, overgrown child intent on having his way in all matters. This time he is a bachelor plastic surgeon who has found that wearing a wedding band and sharing sob stories about heinous imaginary wives is the ticket to a wide swath of lovin'. When he falls for a stunning 23-year-old teacher who reciprocates his feelings, he has to produce his phantom wife so he can "divorce" her for his true love. He calls on Jennifer Aniston, his feisty assistant, to play the part of his spoiled spouse. Calamities pile high when the teacher insists that a trip to Hawaii with their extended families would make for a healthy start to their new life together.

As the young object of Sandler's affections, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker is too new to acting to convince us that her character is gaga for Sandler. Heck, Meryl Streep couldn't sell that on her best day. Decker's character is a contradictory mess, a bright woman who doesn't notice that two members of the family entourage visiting Hawaii are speaking in vaudeville foreign accents.

Aniston is safely in her comfort zone as the sassy Girl Friday who warms up to Sandler while impersonating his shrewish ex, but their chemistry is strictly a matter of comedic give-and-take. You never feel there's a spark between them, yet her good-sport professionalism commands your respect. Nick Swardson, as Sandler's lunatic cousin, turns the spigot of stupidity to full blast. His extended scene of sheep abuse (don't ask) is as cruel to the audience as to the lamb.

The film won't have you rolling in the aisles, but several scenes with a surprise co-star will gently tickle your ribs. There's not much to be said about the majority of jokes here because my mother taught me not to poke at dead things. Nothing onscreen is believable, nor is it worth the effort of suspending disbelief. "Just Go With It" is not only the title, but the attitude that viewers must bring to every preposterous scene.

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186

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  • "Just Go With It"

  • JUST GO WITH IT

    ★ 1/2 out of four stars

    Rating: PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language.

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