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Just Go With It Blu-ray Review

Just Go With It (2011) movie poster Just Go With It

Theatrical Release: February 11, 2011 / Running Time: 116 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: Dennis Dugan / Writers: Allan Loeb, Timothy Dowling (screenplay); I.A.L. Diamond (Cactus Flower screenplay); Abe Burrows (Cactus Flower stage play); Pierre Barillet, Jean-Pierre Grιdy (French play)

Cast: Adam Sandler (Danny Maccabee), Jennifer Aniston (Katherine Murphy/Devlin Maccabee), Nicole Kidman (Devlin Adams), Nick Swardson (Eddie Simms/Dolph Lundgren), Brooklyn Decker (Palmer Dodge), Bailee Madison (Maggie Murphy/Kiki Dee Maccabee), Griffin Gluck (Michael Murphy/Barto Maccabee), Dave Matthews (Ian Maxtone Jones), Kevin Nealon (Adon), Rachel Dratch (Kirsten Brant), Allen Covert (Brian/Soul Patch), Dan Patrick (Tanner Patrick, Jr.), Minka Kelly (Joanna Damon), Jackie Sandler (Veruca), Jonathan Loughran (Pick Up Guy #1), Peter Dante (Pick Up Guy #2), Michael Laskin (Mr. Maccabee), Carol Ann Susi (Mrs. Maccabee), Gene Pompa (Simon the Delivery Guy), Mario Joyner (Henderson), Keegan Michael Key (Ernesto), Heidi Montag (Glenette - Adon's Wife), Andy Roddick (Good Looking Guy on Plane), Lilian Tapia (Rosa)

Buy Just Go With It from Amazon.com: DVD • Blu-ray • Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack • Instant Video


No actor has been more reliable at the box office over the past thirteen years than Adam Sandler. After a prominent five-season run on "Saturday Night Live" and some supporting movie roles, Sandler became a leading man with 1995's Billy Madison. That film wasn't a blockbuster, nor was the following year's Happy Gilmore. But television and home video would earn them fervent followings.
They would in turn establish Sandler's bread and butter, PG-13 comedies he'd often write with friends that featured underdog heroes and an appealing mix of silliness and subversion. Critics weren't crazy about his shtick (even after his buffoonery was dialed down), but the public enjoyed it and by the time Sandler's producing debut, The Waterboy, was released in the fall of 1998 to over $160 million in domestic earnings, he was a bona fide draw.

Look over the career numbers of any modern movie star and you'll notice that Sandler's degree of success is tough to sustain for extended periods of time. "SNL" contemporary Mike Myers struck gold with two franchises after Wayne's World, but has otherwise been scarce. Jim Carrey burst upon the cinema scene shortly before Sandler and has enjoyed some very high highs, but also some underperformers. The same is true of uncredited Gilmore co-star Ben Stiller. Since The Waterboy, all but one of Sandler's signature PG-13 vehicles has surpassed the $100 M mark domestically (2000's hellspawn Little Nicky being the one striking anomaly). In that time, Sandler has proven his chops in acclaimed limited release dramas (Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me), tried his hand at animation (Eight Crazy Nights) and family films (Bedtime Stories), and reteamed with his old pal and former roommate Judd Apatow (Funny People). All of these things, however, have been brief diversions from Sandler's raison d'κtre, which, without fail, have grossed between $100 and $165 million apiece.

The performances have gotten some help from inflation; the same earnings that used to rank among the year's Top 10 now place Sandler's typical summer offering between 15th and 30th. Meanwhile, the budgets have risen. And this November's Jack and Jill, co-starring Katie Holmes and Al Pacino and featuring Sandler as the titular twins (one in drag), sounds like it could pose a genuine threat to the streak (with its timing and daringness eerily reminiscent of Little Nicky). But whether or not you enjoy Sandler's brand of comedy, you can't deny that his niche has been wildly lucrative and highly impressive from a business view.

For reasons too complicated to explain here, plastic surgeon Danny Maccabee (Adam Sandler) and his assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) pose as an unhappily married couple about to divorce but civil enough to share a Hawaiian vacation in the 2011 romantic comedy "Just Go With It."

Sandler's latest film is Just Go With It, which places the romantic fulfillment angle of his nearly every movie in the foreground, earning him his clearest romantic comedy classification since Mr. Deeds and his two popular outings with Drew Barrymore. Just Go With It gives "based on" credit to the 1969 Walter Matthau/Ingrid Bergman/Goldie Hawn comedy Cactus Flower, the 1965 Broadway play from which it was adapted, and the French play by Barillet and Gredy that inspired it.

The film opens in 1988, with Sandler playing Danny Maccabee, a young groom with a grotesquely large nose who has his heart broken. On the night of what was to be his wedding day, Danny finds the secret to enticing the opposite sex: wearing a wedding ring. Instead of coming clean about his derailed ceremony, Danny attracts interest and sympathy from a lady who won't give the time of day to anyone else in the bar. Thus begins Danny's life of lies, in which he plays the part of the wounded husband to uncomplicated hook-ups with beautiful women.

Twenty-three years and a severe nose reduction later, Danny is still playing the field this way, now as a wealthy Los Angeles plastic surgeon. At a party, though, he falls for nubile 23-year-old math teacher Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) and she for him, or so they tell us unconvincingly. Believing she could be the one to settle down for, Danny fumbles for an explanation when she finds his wedding ring in his pocket. With help from his trusted, frumpy, divorced workplace assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), he comes up with a story. He was married and is in the process of getting a divorce. To sell this tale, Katherine gets a pricey makeover with designer clothes, a new hairstyle, and $1,700 shoes. But just when she and Danny seem to have pulled off the ruse, Katherine's two kids get roped into the storyline, turning Danny's fake ex into a fake family.

The preteen kids, improvisational aspiring actress Maggie (Bailee Madison, often adopting an explained British accent) and opportunist Michael (Griffin Gluck) pose as Danny's, and, for a price, take steps to paint him as a caring dad. Michael also arranges for one big extended fake family vacation to Hawaii, where he dreams of swimming with the dolphins. Can Danny, Katherine, and the kids stay in character long enough for Palmer to buy it? Also along for the trip, for unclear reasons, is Danny's cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson), posing as Katherine's, er, "Devlin's" fiancι Dolph Lundgren, an Austrian sheep salesman.

Danny has some explainin' to do when Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) catches the fake wedding band he's used to attract women for over two decades. Maggie (Bailee Madison) and Michael (Griffin Gluck) negotiate the terms of their participation in Danny's fake family ruse over oddly untouched Pizza Hut.

The film's farcical French origins are unmistakable even when run through the tried and true Happy Madison Productions filter. The plot digs itself deeply into holes, while its ending is never in doubt. Reprising the affable everyman he's played often in the past ten years or so, Sandler keeps things fairly entertaining, effortlessly transforming a character we should despise into someone we're always cheering for.
Aniston, who it's surprising took this long to play a Sandler love interest, gives her usual reliable effort as well, generating enough good chemistry between them to pave the path towards the inevitable resolution that on paper seems challenging.

Just Go With It is a fairly mediocre entry into the Sandler canon and by the declining standards of the class, not the more celebrated entirety. I say this as an unabashed Sandler fan who has cut him far more slack than most critics. Just like last summer's Grown Ups, Sandler's biggest hit in over a decade, this film feels more like a fun time than an artistic endeavor. Again, the fun belongs more to Sandler and his crew than us. Does anyone have it as good as Sandler? Spend two months making this film, more than half of it in Hawaii (a location he's clearly become fond of, having shot two earlier movies there). Have half-your-age Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Brooklyn Decker play your girlfriend. Collect $25 million salary. And still come out ahead, as the movie grosses $103 M stateside and an even more impressive $111 M overseas, becoming the #1 movie of the winter 2011 season.

It helps that Sandler seems like a genuinely nice guy. He really has every reason in the world to be, but there is nothing to cast doubt on the goofy, genial nature of his roles and public appearances. Who can begrudge his success, clearly earned by his comedic voice and maintained in his steady stream of unchallenging, tailor-made projects? In an industry where audiences seem to tire of and turn on successful entertainers after a few years of either complacency or venturesomeness, Sandler's enduring appeal is nothing short of extraordinary. Even when his movies aren't great, I enjoy him and them enough to appreciate the predictable public appraisal that always follows critical dismissal.

Ordinarily entertaining Nick Swardson discovers the difficulties of broad comedy as his character cousin Eddie spends most of the film in character as Austrian sheep salesman Dolph Lundgren. Showing up picture perfect married couple, iPod inventor Ian Maxton Jones (a John Cusacky Dave Matthews) and high school frienemy Devlin Adams (a similarly game Nicole Kidman), gives Katherine and Danny incentive to play nice.

Just Go With It isn't great. Decker is uncomfortable with the modest acting she's asked to do. The ordinarily funny Nick Swardson discovers the perils of broad comedy with his thick accent and thicker glasses. The comedy is a mixed bag, ranging from reasonably diverting gags to overly familiar ones, with some crude ones divided into the two classes. A scene awkwardly set in Pizza Hut probably ranks among the most shameless bit of product placement in the actor's extensive history (it's at least somewhat tempered by the invention of J.D. McFunnigan's, a fake Chuck E. Cheese's-type establishment). The direction by Dennis Dugan, helming his sixth Sandler signature comedy (an arrangement regularly reinforced in recent years), is static and unremarkable. The screenplay by busy bee Allan Loeb (The Dilemma, The Switch, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Role Models' Timothy Dowling has little bite and plays out a bit more slowly than it needs to (at 116 minutes, the film runs a tad longer than most of Sandler's 21st century films). Logic is forced, stretched, and dizzying. And yet it goes down smooth, with your opinion of the star/producer almost certainly where it was beforehand.

How many actors besides Adam Sandler can claim they are making the same kinds of movies they were fifteen years ago? That isn't a slam and it's even up to debate; compare Billy Madison to this, for instance, and some stark differences emerge. But not that many. You've got Sandler's voice in the comedy (though he receives no writing credit here), his taste in the extensively-licensed soundtrack (which shows much love for Sting and The Police, one of the '70s/'80s acts Sandler hasn't previously paid homage to), and his friends in the cast. Included in that latter group are cameos by the actor's entourage (Allen Covert, Jonathan Loughran, and Peter Dante), wife Jackie Sandler, old friend Kevin Nealon, repeat support (Dan Patrick, Rachel Dratch), a slightly random mix of celebrities (Minka Kelly, Heidi Montag, Andy Roddick), and, in unadvertised but mildly significant parts, Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman as Aniston's "frienemy" and singer Dave Matthews as her iPod inventor husband. It's good to be the Sandman.

It's also good to be Sony, whose Columbia Pictures has distributed twelve of Sandler's last seventeen movies as lead actor. They'll also be handling his next three movies: this summer's Happy Madison-produced MGM Kevin James talking animal flick Zookeeper (in which Sandler voices Donald the Monkey), the aforementioned Jack and Jill in the fall, and next June's wedding comedy I Hate You, Dad, casting Sandler (against his age) as Andy Samberg's father. Video arm Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Just Go With It to DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack on Tuesday. We look at the middle of those here.

Just Go With It Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English, French),
Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English and Spanish
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $34.95)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($28.95 $14.99 SRP), in Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack ($38.96 $26.99 SRP),
and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The 1.85:1 widescreen presentation is about as good as Blu-ray gets. You don't expect picturesque visuals in a Dennis Dugan/Adam Sandler comedy, but shoot in Hawaii and things change. The picture is immaculate and razor-sharp, boasting vibrant natural colors and tremendous detail. The vitality also extends to the DTS-HD 5.1 master audio soundtrack, which comes to life primarily with the frequent flow of mash-ups and other sampled music (full list at the bottom of the review) but also delivers flawless crispness and clarity in the dialogue that drives the movie. I'm sure the standard DVD will be good enough for the majority of the public, but the Blu-ray does kindly take advantage of the format's higher resolution and bandwidth.

Pimply Nick Swardson and large-nosed Adam Sandler crack up while shooting their 1988-set opening scene in the blooper reel "Laughter is Contagious." The Sprouse Brothers and fans of "Big Daddy" may enjoy seeing "Kangaroo Song" performed by J.D. McFunnigan's animatronic animal band in this deleted scene.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Adam Sandler movies are always good for a fair amount of bonus features, but the Just Go With It Blu-ray seems to set a record with its full supply of supplements. The extras begin with a Sandler movie rarity: not one but two audio commentaries.

The first commentary comes from Sandler, Nick Swardson, and executive producers Tim Herlihy and Allen Covert. It is predictably an amusing listen. The screen-specific comments offer a nice mix of real information, sarcastic remarks, and humorous observations, as the group tackles such topics as the child actors, terms for feces, Gary Busey's supposed set visit,
NYU, locations, CGI additions, filming conditions, and extras, with the occasional funny voice and impression.

The second and less exciting commentary, recorded two weeks into the film's theatrical run, lets director Dennis Dugan fly solo. He doesn't have much to add beyond the jokier group session, but he takes the duty seriously and speaks candidly, employing humorous deadpan at times (as when he explains how filmmakers can substitute sunset for sunrise or how water bottle handling divides people), and going silent for long stretches elsewhere.

The blooper reel "Laughter is Contagious" (4:38) consists largely of takes blown by laughter and fumbled lines leading to laughter along with bleeped profanity. It's routine but mildly entertaining.

A substantial Deleted Scenes section (16:57) consists of sixteen cut scenes. Most of these are extensions of existing bits or inconsequential exchanges building up Danny and Katherine's rapport. More notable are a animatronic performance of Big Daddy's "Kangaroo Song", another Kevin Nealon appearance, a scene of lies amusingly inspired by Harry Potter, more of Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews, and a variation on real-life couple Decker and Roddick's airplane scene.

This unidentified prop guy gets a real kick of placing a fake spider on his fellow crew members' shoulders. Brooklyn Decker turns to the free version of iPhone app BaconFarts to (unsuccessfully) prank the Sandman in "Decker's Got Gas." In the make-up chair, Kevin Nealon gets creepily transformed into Adon, "The Plastic Man."

The majority of the remaining extras are short making-of featurettes.

"Adon: Living Plastic" (2:30) follows Kevin Nealon around in his heavy character make-up as beauticians and ordinary folk have their reactions recorded by a hidden camera. It's less funny than you'd hope. "Along Came a Prop Guy" (2:53) captures a prop guy's attempts to upset his fellow crew members with the old rubber spider on a wire trick, to mixed response. Compensating for the movie's lack of fart jokes, "Decker's Got Gas" (2:18) documents Brooklyn Decker's attempt to prank Sandler with a BaconFarts app. It flops and is followed by some less artificial flatulence. "Dolph-Not the One from Rocky IV" (6:10) centers on Nick Swardson, collecting thoughts from the comedian and his adoring castmates. Though outtakes show them cracking up, the character doesn't get any funnier here.

"Kevin Nealon: The Plastic Man" (5:30) covers the actor's multiple hour make-up transformation to play his overly surgically enhanced role in the film with some witticisms and B-roll footage. "What's a Dugan?" (5:25) shows us footage of director Dennis Dugan at work and gathers positive comments on him from his actors. "Look Who Else is in the Movie" (2:40) turns our attentions to recognizable supporting cast members Rachel Dratch, Heidi Montag, and Dan Patrick with B-roll of their work and set behavior. "Sneaky Kiki & Bart the Water Fart" (1:30) celebrates child actors Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck.

It will take more than ocean waves to get Dennis Dugan not to direct an Adam Sandler comedy. Rachel Dratch shows off the uneven eyebrows she wears in her brief appearance as a plastic surgery patient. Illustrating they're "The Perfect Couple" even out of character, Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler give a goofy joint interview.

"The Perfect Couple: Jen and Adam" (5:50) deals with the leads, who speak fondly of one another and have their co-stars testify to their chemistry as well. "The Not So Perfect Couple" (3:51) considers the characters played by Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews with heavy doses of sarcasm addressing the unlikely pairing they make as Adam Sandler movie support.
"Decker's First Role" (4:20) puts a happy face on Decker's unsmooth transition from bikini model to actress, with more outtakes, behind-the-scenes clips, and remarks. "Shooting Hawaii" (5:30) is perhaps the closest to a general making-of featurette, but as its title suggests, it deals mostly with extolling the virtues of the exotic filming location.

"Grand Wailea Promo" (7:08) is no satirical spoof; it is an extended advertisement for the Maui resort at which much of the film is set and was filmed. I wonder what kind of discounts and swag including this netted the filmmakers. Wondering if there's any reason to watch this? There isn't.

A "Previews" section lets you play full trailers one at a time for the following movies: Battle: Los Angeles, The Green Hornet, Elektra Luxx, Beastly, Barney's Version, Grown Ups, 50 First Dates, and Click. I'm not sure why Just Go With It's own trailer couldn't have been included here too, for posterity's sake. After a new Sony 3D promo, the first two trailers play automatically when the disc is inserted.

Like most new Sony movies' Blu-rays, this one is equipped with the BD-Live feature movieIQ+sync, which adds actor and song identifications and sporadic fun facts to feature film playback in an overlay or a computer/portable device's synched-up Internet browser. Much of the information is disposable, but there is some value if you have an urge to consult it on a repeat viewing.

Just Go With It's trailer is available among the streaming Sony promos of the BD-Live section, where it takes about twice as long to load as it does to watch, even counting the freezing it does parts of the way in. I've yet to see a BD-Live section that isn't a joke.

In the name of comedy, Adam Sandler takes one in the coconuts as part of the Blu-ray's menu montage of "Just Go With It" film clips.

If you're among the part of the population that thinks standard DVD is a perfectly suitable medium for renting or buying an Adam Sandler movie, do know that you'll be missing out on many of the bonus features described here. The DVD only includes the commentaries, the blooper reel, deleted scenes (11 minutes fewer than the Blu-ray), and the featurettes "The Perfect Couple", "Shooting Hawaii", and "Dolph". (I'd wager that the Grand Wailea promo is there along with the same trailers.)

The Blu-ray's menu evokes the film's Hawaiian motif with silent clips and thematic objects rotating to score. The disc supports bookmarks and usually resumes playback of the menu or movie.

An insert further promotes 3D and Sony's make.believe philosophy, while the inside/reverse of the cover art shows through the translucent blue case with a photo of the film's six vacationing "family" members.

One big old happy family? Two couples and two kids with two fake ties between them enjoy a nature walk on their unusual Hawaiian vacation (fake-cation).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Adam Sandler continues to fall short of the high entertainment levels his movies of the '90s and early 2000s regularly supplied. But like many of his more recent comedies, Just Go With It still manages to divert on regular basis. If you're a fan of Sandler or of romantic comedies, you probably need little encouragement to see this (if you haven't already). If those are your plans, I approve proceeding with them, but just don't go with them expecting hilarity or something you'll frequently return to.

One viewing might be enough for the time being, but Sony has loaded the movie's Blu-ray with more extras than you'll be able to get through in a reasonable rental period. The short making-of featurettes could (and maybe should) have easily been combined into a tidy 50-minute documentary, since they are very consistent in tone and content. Standard DVD consumers aren't missing anything huge by having them kept off their preferred format, which even so remains far from barebones.

Buy Just Go With It from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Starring Adam Sandler: Blended • Grown Ups • Bedtime Stories • Grown Ups 2 • Jack and Jill • That's My Boy • Funny People
Starring Jennifer Aniston: We're the Millers • The Switch • The Bounty Hunter • He's Just Not That Into You • Marley & Me
Nick Swardson: Blades of Glory | Dave Matthews: Where the Red Fern Grows | French Comedy Remake: Dinner for Schmucks
2011 Movies: No Strings Attached • Gnomeo & Juliet • The Green Hornet • The Roommate

Just Go With It Songs List (in order of use): The Police - "So Lonely", Peter "Peas" McEvilley - "Blue Glass", Sean Kingston - "Fire Burning", Peas featuring Daddy Roots - "Can't Catch My Breath", B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars - "Nothin' On You", Mike Posner - "Cooler Than Me", Rihanna featuring JAY-Z and General Public - "Umbrella/Tenderness (Party Ben Mash-Up)", Ron Ermini and Friends - "When You've Had Enough", The Police and Bee Gees - "Roxanne/You Should Be Dancing (DJ Lobsterdust Mash-Up)", The After After Hours - "Incomplete Without You", The Police - "Driven to Tears", Geoff Spencer - "Wally's Waltz", The Beach Boys - "Hawaii", Nick Swardson and Adam Sandler - "Piano Man", Soft Cell and Bob Marley & The Wailers - "Tainted Love/Is This Love (DJ Lobsterdust Mash-Up)", Tihati Productions, Ltd. - "Le O Le Tapalau Mo Le Siva Afi", Tihati Productions, Ltd. - "Bibi Na Se Ni Do/Tevovo Tevovo", Ledward Kaapana - "My Sweetheart", The Police - "Canary in a Coalmine", Jake Shimabukuro - "Angel", Madcon and The Police - "Beggin'/Can't Stand Losing You (DJ Y alias JY Mash-Up)", The Hawaiian Beach Band - "Fishing for Love", HAPA - "Stars in the Morning Sky", Sting - "Love is the Seventh Wave", *NSYNC - "Bye Bye Bye", HAPA - "He'eia", Peas featuring Daddy Roots - "Duppy Can't Frighten Me", Ledward Kaapana - "Aloha ia o Waianae", Figuralchor Frankfurt, Frankfurter Singakadamie and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic of Antwerpen - "'O Fortuna' from Carmina Burana", Ekolu - "The Dancefloor", Herb Otha, Jr. - "Kaulana O Hilo Hanakahi", HAPA and Ledward Kaapana - "Lovely Hula Hands", The All-Star Hawaiian Band - "Lovely Hula Hands", B.o.B. - "Lovelier Than You", The Police and Snow Patrol - "Every Breath You Take/Chasing Cars (Party Ben Mash-Up)", Sting - "You Still Touch Me", Annie Lennox - "Waiting in Vain", Jake Shimabukuro - "Every Breath You Take", Chuck & The Jam Band - "It Must Be Love", The Police - "Next to You"

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Reviewed June 4, 2011.



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