Just Go With It

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Dennis Dugan
Writers: Allan Loeb & Timothy Dowling;
    earlier incarnations: I.A.L. Diamond; Abe Burrows;
    Pierre Barillet & Jean-Pierre Gredy


  • Adam Sandler — Danny Maccabee
  • Jennifer Aniston — Katherine Murphy / "Mrs. Devlin Maccabee"
  • Brooklyn Decker — Palmer Dodge
  • Nick Swardson — Eddie Simms / "Dolph Lundgren"
  • Nicole Kidman — Devlin Adams
  • Dave Matthews — Ian Maxtone Jones
  • Bailee Madison — Maggie Murphy / "Kiki Dee Maccabee"
  • Griffin Gluck — Michael Murphy / "Bart Maccabee"

Columbia: 2011

117 minutes August 2012

"The two basic plots":
boy meets girl
& the man who learned better

Just Go With It is a fast-paced romantic comedy, with the comedy quite as strong as the romance. A determined bachelor, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon, Danny (played by Adam Sandler), has guarded his singleness by telling casual girlfriends that he's married. Danny is surprised to be smitten by a young woman teacher, Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), and it seems mutual. So now he has to pretend to get divorced, but to do that believably he has to acquire a pretend-wife: so he drafts his long-time medical-office assistant, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston). We also have Nick Swardson, who as the doctor's cousin Eddie gives an over-the-top performance, coming into the pretend-divorce charade as the pretend-German-boyfriend of the pretend-wife Katherine. So now there are two couples, sort of, none of them actually married. The course of true love is not made more straight or smooth by detouring into a semi-accidental, let's-all-get-along trip to Hawaii.

Nicole Kidman as Katherine's old sorority nemesis Devlin, in Hawaii with her husband Ian (Dave Matthews), contribute to the happily mendacious confusion as Katherine doesn't want to admit that she's a divorced mother of two, the report of true love being much better served by showing off her supposed doctor husband.

As is frequent in comedy but less so in romance, there also are children with roles vital to the plot, the divorced Katherine's girl and boy, Maggie and Michael (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck). Naturally, as part of the charade they must pretend to be Danny's children as well, inventing their own artificial personae. Their presence adds a dimension to both the romance and the comedy, a real-world texture which helps the whole outrageous shebang seem plausible. They are hilarious speed bumps along the course of true (or pretend) love, whether in Los Angeles or Hawaii or anywhere. (Parents with young children may want to screen the movie before sharing: it is good-natured but much of the humor is adult, more or less allusively.)

This pretendful menage and their piling-it-higher scenario is plausible, you ask? In the context of too-fast-to-stop-now romantic-comedy plots, sure. Just go with it, okay?

Way better than Cactus Flower

The Dugan-directed Sandler-Aniston Just Go With It, with its well-knit and snappy screenplay by Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, is approximately the fourth incarnation of its basic plot-line:

  1. French stage play Fleur de cactus
  2. Broadway stage play Cactus Flower
  3. film Cactus Flower (1969)
      and finally — getting it right at last —
  4. Just Go With It

Cactus Flower stars Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergmann, and Goldie Hawn, and was a major hit in 1970. I find it heavy and dull, laboring at romance and humor and wit, but — despite a strong cast — failing across the board. Critics sneered at Just Go With It as a poor remake of a "classic", but they have it backwards.

I am in general no fan of remakes of truly classic films: see my reviews of Harlan Ellison's Watching and especially of Connie Willis' novel Remake. Usually the bygone and even black-and-white best is the inescapable judgment against the contemporary and colorful but unimaginatively remade new.

Fortunately Just Go With It is better in every way, and in the sweetness of time will come to be rated the "classic", and its predecessors mere tentative antecedents. There were five stories of Romeo and Juliet before Shakespeare got it overwhelmingly right with his Romeo and Juliet.

I've watched Just Go With It several times already, and it remains nicely romantic, funny, and witty: often all at once. Excellent screenplay, and the cast embodies it wonderfully. I think you'll like it.


© 2012 Robert Wilfred Franson

Just Go With It official website

Romance at Troynovant
dating, romantic love, marriage

Note:  Around 2001 I had the pleasure of rebuilding Dotschi Schloh's website for her — Hawaii Travel Experts. One of the hotels featured was the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa on Maui, but I had no grasp of how spectacular the Grand Wailea is until I saw Just Go With It. The movie's DVD includes among its bonus material the resort's own visual tour of its lovely grounds. — RWF


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