By Ann Hornaday
Friday, February 11, 2011; C02
There are two Adam Sandlers in the film world: the brave, edgy Sandler who finds unexpected pathos in such outliers as "Punch Drunk Love," "Spanglish" and "Funny People." And the complacent, lazy Sandler of last summer's "Grown Ups" and, now, "Just Go With It," an egregiously unfunny enterprise that seem less crafted than extruded through the great product-mill that is Hollywood at its most homogenized and soulless.
This time out, Sandler plays a Los Angeles plastic surgeon named Danny Maccabee, whose back story plays out in "Just Go With It's" first few scenes: The victim of a scheming, two-timing bride-to-be, the long-shnozzed Danny flees her clutches at the altar, then finds that his wedding ring and hard-luck story works like catnip with the ladies. Jump cut to a couple of decades later, when a post-nose-job Danny is still working that grift on unsuspecting girls 20 years his junior. (That earlier sequence is surely intended to build sympathy for a protagonist who's otherwise deceitful, selfish, infantile and amoral. But I digress.)
When one of Danny's conquests turns out to be true love, and she finds his decoy wedding ring, the quick-thinking Lothario dragoons his long-suffering assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) and her precocious kids to play his soon-to-be-estranged family, thereby freeing him to marry the woman of his dreams.
That shiksa goddess, by the way, is played by Sports Illustrated supermodel Brooklyn Decker, here in full Bo Derek mode (ask your parents) as an ideal of blond, buxom womanhood who on at least two occasions strikes Venus-like poses against seductive watery backdrops. Making her film debut here, Decker acquits herself with disarming sincerity and sweetness in a movie that, once everyone decamps for an impromptu vacation, seems to have been designed chiefly as a Hawaii getaway for Sandler and his handpicked friends.
Thanks to Danny's profession, "Just Go With It" contains predictable sight gags involving plastic surgery gone horribly wrong, including one unsavory bit in which Sandler and Aniston rub numbing cream on a patient's nipples. In between crass product placements for Pizza Hut and Pepsi, writers Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling cram in as many references to pooping and peepee as possible, all the while making "Just Go With It" sophomoric enough to appeal to kids and raunchy enough to make it inappropriate for them.
To her credit, Aniston, who meets Decker toe-to-toe (except they aren't toes) in a lagoon bikini-off midway through the film, brings little more to "Just Go With It" than her famously taut physique; but blandness is clearly the order of the day for a film that aspires to nothing save padding Sandler's bank account. (To his dubious credit, he's made it a point in his last few films to play obscenely wealthy men, saving us all the discomfort of watching him pretend to be anything but.) Nick Swardson, as Danny's pesty cousin Eddie, does an absolutely spot-on impression of Sacha Baron Cohen doing Bruno in the most ludicrous story line of a film that obeys no narrative rules save those that come as plot points that are preprogrammed into screenwriting software (physical shtick with a comatose sheep, check).
The only A-game in "Just Go With It" comes by way of its least likely player: Nicole Kidman, in a weird piece of stunt casting, tucks into her cameo role with the predatory glee of her "To Die For" days. In fact, just thinking about Kidman traveling from the heights of "To Die For" to the depths of "Just Go With It" inspires an idea: Just don't.
Just Go With It r (110 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and profanity.