Just Go With It
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Just Go With It

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Remakes, or to use the politically correct term, ‘reimagining’, have always been around but seemingly recent years have experienced a noticeable increase in their number. This trend naturally enough has extended to the venerable genre of the romantic comedy. Since there is a rather strict set of guidelines for this film the repetition in structure of stories may be less noticeable than other genres. Another reason remake of romantic comedies is better tolerated by fans and critics are these films are highly dependent on the current set of ethical values and moral constraints of the time and place of the film’s origins. As times change as inevitably they do a remake can be useful to relate the same basic themes against the background of a different set of moral imperatives. This is not to say the results are going to match, let alone surpass the original. The purpose in this case is to be different by filtering it through the sensibilities of a new generation. In the case of the recent movie, ‘Just Go with It’ it is as decent guess that not many film fans of this generation would readily remember the 1968 classic film ‘Cactus Flower’ not to mention the Broadway play by the same name that opened way back in 1965.the story is dependent of the societal views of fidelity, marriage, lust and misdirection. Over the last forty six years there have been a significant number of changes in our cultural views but the underlying aspects of human nature have remained fairly consistent offering a fairly interesting historical perspective. Although this particular flick falls far short of the incredible craftsmanship displayed by the original treatment of the story it does seem fit for today’s generation. The original was a farce; a type of humor that required finesse and a dry wit. Now this delicate dance of dialogue and circumstances has been supplanted by crash sensationalism and overt sexuality. It is only fitting that the original film stared comic geniuses as Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn while the current version offers the sledge hammer approach to humor that is typical of any flick featuring the efforts of Adam Sandler. I have been known to have a few laughs watching Me. Sandler but I have yet found any feature length film of his that has managed to hold my attention for the duration of the movie.

In a set of circumstances that are becoming increasingly commonplace this movie is trying to take on one of the classics that helped defined the genre. It is not that the flick is really that bad; it is an amusing date flick of sorts albeit overly ridiculous. The problem I encountered with ‘Just Go with It’ is that it follows one on my favorite movies in the farce genre. ‘Cactus Flower’ had a screenplay written by the man who redefined the farce for film; I. A. L. Diamond. This comic genius crafted his scripts for a series of farces back when overly explicit sexual humor was not acceptable. He not only was able to play with the language taking it far beyond the double entendre but was able to sell the highly unlikely situations that define the farce in a way that the audience would readily suspend disbelief. While Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling are both talented script writers with eclectic resumes they are not in the same league as Mr. Diamond. As the director Dennis Dugan had to work within the constraints of delivering a family friendly PG-13 rating for his opus. In the pre-MPAA sixties this was not an issue and more was done with a few hints and innuendo. It is just this flick has to compete with the more overt R rated movies yet still be able to pander to the fan base of Sandler which typically reads a bit younger. In the overall evaluation of the movie it just makes it as a pop corn flick but if you have been watching films for a few decades you already know the story and have seen better treatments of it. Since this variation is supposed to be light hearted the screen writers have exorcized the plot thread concerning a suicide attempt leaving the main theme of pretending to be in a failed marriage as a subterfuge to pick up unsuspecting but sympathetic women.

The scoundrel perpetrating this self serving deception is Danny Maccabee (Adam Sandler). As a successful plastic surgeon the idea that he requires a ruse of this sort to get women is outrageous but the back story attempts to mitigate this sizable plot void by having him emotionally devastated by being left at the altar some twenty year ago. As my late wife would say; too bad, so sad… move along already’. Now he4 keeps a wedding ring handy to make the female du jour think he is in a crumbling marriage; ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’ bromide. The only one in one the scheme is his office manager, Katherine Murphy (Jennifer Aniston), a divorced mother of two. While at a friendly gathering Danny meets a beautiful young woman, Danny meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a well grounded sixth grade teacher. The immediately hit it off but when they get to the point of exchanging numbers she reaches into his pocket for his card only to pull out the fake ring. He has to back pedal a lot but he falls back on the getting a divorce ruse almost instinctually. Palmer wants to hear this directly from the soon to be ex forcing Danny to get Katherine to play the role. When she inadvertently mentions her kids her real children, Maggie (Bailee Madison) and Michael (Griffin Gluck) are inducted into the growing deception. The film tries to hold up to the situational mayhem indicative of a farce but without the finesse of the classic presentation the circumstance come off as just plain idiotic. For example the daughter uses a phony English accent to blackmail a trip to Hawaii where they run into Danny’s cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson) who is posing as an Austrian sheep salesman named Dolph Lundgren. To make matters worse Katherine’s ex claims his money came from inventing the iPod when actually it was from a lawsuit over getting hit in the face by a foul baseball. Diamond might have been able to make this mess work but that was why he will remain the undisputed master of the genre. if anything can be said about this flick is it gives solid evidence to the saying; ‘they don’t make then like they used to.’

Posted 06/04/11

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