Things I Learned From Movie X: Just Go With It
By Edwin Davies
November 9, 2011

I think we all know why Sandler made this movie.

Anyone familiar with the Copenhagen Theory of Quantum Mechanics (and, given how intelligent - not to mention attractive - BOP’s user base is, I’m confident that a lot of you are familiar with it) will probably know about the thought experiment devised in 1935 by Erwin Schrödinger. You know the one; you put a cat in a box with a poisonous gas that may or may not be released, seal it, then sit around and wait like a massive sadistic bastard. But you can’t get off on your cat murdering because you if can’t see into the box you don’t know if the cat is dead or not. Therefore the cat can be said to exist in two states at the same time; it is both alive and dead until you open the box.

Schrödinger invented this scenario as a means of illustrating the stupidity of the Copenhagen Theory (and because he really fucking hated cats), since in the real world it is impossible for a cat to be both alive AND dead: it can be one or the other, not both. Yet its origin as a kind of smart-alecky joke doesn’t mean that the idea doesn’t have real world applications. Take, for example, the work of Adam Sandler, which consists largely of films which manage to be both hugely popular and unpopular at the same time. Since 1998 Sandler has headlined 12 films that have grossed over $100 million, displaying a consistency that is rare amongst movie stars these days, yet at the same time, not one of those $100 million earners has achieved a Rotten Tomatoes rating higher than 50%, and you’d be hard pressed to find many non-critics who would say they were any better than middling. In defiance of science and all logic, Sandler’s work exists in two states at the same time.

Just Go With It, Sandler’s latest curiosity, fits the pattern perfectly since it earned $103 million and a 20% RT rating. Yes, it’s terrible and it made a lot of money. These are not new lessons to glean from an Adam Sandler film, but maybe beneath the surface there is something more. No? Oh. Well, here’s a column about it anyway.

Also known as, “Okay everyone, you know the drill, let’s roll up our sleeves and do this”: The Movie

The only possible explanation I have been able to find for Sandler’s success is that sometime in the late ‘90s he made a deal with the denizens of the world; he’d make these dreadful films, and we’d all go and see them, so long as we completely ignored the few good films he put out like Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me and Funny People. I can’t explain why we all agreed to this since it seems like a pretty terrible deal that benefits only Sandler and forces us to watch terrible film after terrible film, but the subsequent 13 years bear out the fact that we did agree to it. Either the power of collective bargaining as a negotiating tool has been grossly overstated or we hired Gil Gunderson to be our negotiator. Regardless, this is the deal we made and we are still living with the consequences.

One small compensation is that, based on Just Go With It, Sandler seems to be getting as tired of this routine as we are. Rarely has a comedy seemed so joyless or workmanlike than this film, whose ethos seems to be summed up by its passive-aggressive title. More or less every plot point in the film is dumb and ridiculous, but the film just expects you to go with it unquestioningly. Let’s give this theory a try; it won’t make the experience any more enjoyable, but it might make it less painful?

So, Adam Sandler starts the film off as an ugly guy with a massive fake nose who discovers that his fiancée is only going to marry him for his money and will divorce him soon afterwards. I can get behind that. After all, anyone who walks around wearing a massive fake nose all the time probably deserves to lose most of his money in alimony payments. Then he goes to a bar and uses the engagement ring to spin a sob story that allows him to bed Minka Kelly.

(“Now hang on a minute,” I exclaim, “that’s creepy as all Hell, and anyway…”
“Shh, just go with it,” the film whispers seductively.
“Oh, all right then.”)

So he keeps doing this for years until he meets a woman half his age (Brooklyn Decker) whose robust breasts he decides he wants to settle down with, except she thinks he’s married and doesn’t want to break up his family!

(“Well, why doesn’t he just tell her the truth, explain the situation and…”
“Shh, just go with it,” the film purrs.
“Fine, but I’m not happy about it.”
“No one ever is,” the film sighs mournfully, “No one ever is.”)

That conversation could be had for every single point in the film, which unfolds at a lackluster pace that suggests everyone involved was having the WORST time making the film and longed to be anywhere else. My personal theory is that every scene was shot in one or two takes so that Sandler and the cast and crew could call it a day and spend as much time as possible hanging out in Hawaii. I mean, I don’t blame them for doing it that way because it’s Hawaii and, smoke monsters aside, Hawaii is pretty awesome, but they could have done what everyone else does at their day job and pretended like they gave half a shit.

There’s suspension of disbelief, then there’s whatever Just Go With It is

For the last six months, people the world over have been struggling to live day-to-day with the knowledge that Jack & Jill, a film in which Adam Sandler plays both himself (I don’t think the character is called "Adam Sandler," but I also don’t think it matters at this point. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say there is a name for his character, even if it is something like Stan Andler) and his own obnoxious twin sister. It hangs above us all like the asteroid in Armageddon, threatening to rain bloody destruction on all of us unless Bruce Willis can stop it. (No, the metaphor doesn’t break down at that point; even as we speak, Bruce Willis and his team are currently working on a plan to blow up the Jack & Jill premiere using, I dunno, drills or something.) The key problem with it is that it’s such a ridiculous idea it gives credence to the theory that I just came up with that Sandler has been replaced by George Simmons, his hack comedian character in Judd Apatow’s Funny People, and that we are only a few years away from MerMan and My Best Friend is a Robot being films that actually exist. Throw in Al Pacino (as himself!) becoming infatuated with Sandler’s sister and you have one of the most distressingly ridiculous things ever created.

Yet in Just Go With It, Sandler expects the audience to believe something truly impossible; that Jennifer Aniston could ever be dowdy and unattractive. I’m no fan of Aniston’s work as an actress, but it’s hard to deny that she is one of the most glamorous women in the world. Yet for the first third of Just Go With It, we are expected to believe that she is Sandler’s plain, unattractive assistant who he only realises is incredibly hot once he pays for a new wardrobe and a makeover so that they can convince Brooklyn Decker’s breasts that Aniston is Sandler’s bitchy ex-wife. The idea that just putting glasses on a beautiful woman and making her put her hair up will make her anything less than stunning is such a played-out cliché at this point that Just Go With It’s laziness in implementing it comes very close to being the best joke in the movie, rather than a sign of astonishing ineptitude. The big reveal, in which Aniston walks into a restaurant looking like a million dollars, has no impact whatsoever since instead of causing the audience to think, “Wow, beneath that plain, dowdy exterior lies a really stunning beauty,” they think, “Wow, I guess beneath that incredibly pretty exterior is another very pretty exterior”.

Faced with the idea of Jennifer Aniston being anything less than gorgeous, the thought of Al Pacino wanting to fuck Adam Sandler in drag doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous anymore.