Andy Bockelman: ‘Just Go With It’ just doesn’t come together

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Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.

If you go

2 out of 4 stars

117 minutes

Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker and Nick Swardson.

Now playing at the West Theatre and Steamboat Springs’ Carmike Chief Plaza 4.

Looking for a movie that isn’t too challenging and gets gradually more ridiculous as it goes? You might be tempted to turn your nose up at it because of the far-fetched premise, but hey, “Just Go With It.”

Whether it’s uneven eyebrows, breast augmentations or facelifts, L.A. plastic surgeon Danny Maccabee (Adam Sandler) can do it all.

But, his real specialty is his alteration on the truth — the carefree bachelor sports a wedding ring and regularly picks up women by giving them a sob story about how horrible his non-existent wife is.

It’s a system that has worked well for years, earning him the admiration of all his male friends who are in on the lie and the disgust of his assistant, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston). However, everything changes when he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a much younger schoolteacher with whom he feels he can be himself, not even relying on the old standby of telling her about his “abusive” wife — that is, until she finds the golden band and jumps to her own conclusions.

In a desperate move, Danny assures her that he is days from divorce, recruiting Katherine to play his spouse so Palmer can be assured that she is not a home-wrecker. But, what should be a simple deceit gets more and more complicated as single mom Katherine’s kids (Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck) are dragged into the lie, leading to a lavish, faux family vacation in Hawaii to keep up appearances.

Even though he’s previously played a veterinarian and a dentist, it never gets any easier to buy Sandler as a doctor, but in a movie that’s full of elaborate, incredible falsehoods it seems pretty fitting.

What’s really laughable is the idea that a woman half his age would flock to him so uncontrollably, but there’s no accounting for taste, with Decker doing as best as anybody could in such an ill-defined role.

Aniston tells it best when she compares the pairing as “Barbie and Grandpa Ken.” The former “Friends” star does well even if she doesn’t exactly fit the bill as mousy Katherine, for whom the only difference between office worker and glamorous L.A. wife is the removal of her glasses and hair scrunchie.

While playing the part of Danny’s castrating, soon-to-be ex, she also takes on the moniker Devlin, the name of a reviled sorority sister, whose name is used by her kids Maggie and Michael as a bathroom euphemism.

Nicole Kidman is surprisingly funny in a supporting function as the real Devlin, the snotty wife of a millionaire (Dave Matthews), whom Katherine runs across in the islands, leading to yet another set of fabrications.

The title of the movie comes from the cardinal rule of improvisational acting, as explained by aspiring thespian Maggie, that when you’re pretending, you can’t negate something said by one of your fellow actors. Therefore, when a lie starts snowballing, the best thing you can do is let it keep going rather than break character.

And, as the story gets continually compounded with Maggie feigning a British accent and Danny’s tagalong cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson) posing as Katherine’s German lover, it gets increasingly harder to believe that anybody could be dumb enough to not even question all the weirdness going on around them with Palmer gliding through everything in blissful ignorance.

Decker’s main contribution to these madcap proceedings is her scenes in a bikini, hence the Hawaiian setting, although even in the swimsuit competition Aniston gives her a run for her money.

Even if you’ve never seen the 1960s romantic comedy “Cactus Flower,” upon which the basic plot is based, you know where everything is headed, though the love triangle here can’t top Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn.

This is particularly apparent in the back story of Sandler’s character, whose unfortunate experience with marriage elicits more sympathy as opposed to Matthau’s portrayal of the male lead as a thoughtless womanizer.

“Just Go With It” goes for the predictable laughs and lands them about as well as you would expect. Where it falters is that all the conflict comes early on leading to no tension when it’s needed and a story that gets needlessly stretched out.

For all its use of improv techniques, the most useful comedy staple seems to have been forgotten: Blackout.

Now playing at the West Theatre and Steamboat Springs’ Carmike Chief Plaza 4.

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