“The Big Lie” is a shopworn formula which has been recycled by countless television sitcoms since serving as the premise for almost every episode of I Love Lucy. The age-old theme typically revolves around a morally-compromised protagonist who ends up ensnared in an ever-expanding web of deception after telling a little fib at a moment of weakness.
For the initial fraud is invariably compounded by additional lies needed to prevent the truth from coming out. Unanticipated complications ensue and the tension builds to a crescendo while the guilt-ridden prevaricator agonizes over his predicament until finally deciding to clear his conscience by ‘fessing up. You don’t see “The Big Lie” employed often as a theme in movies simply because it generally proves to be too preposterous a cinematic device to hold an audience’s interest for the duration of a full-length feature.
However, just such a scheme provides the fulcrum for Just Go With It, a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and last year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl, Brooklyn Decker. The picture was directed by longtime Sandler collaborator Dennis Dugan, the brains behind such asinine offerings as Grown-Ups, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy.
This tale unfolds in Beverly Hills where celebrated, plastic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Maccabee (Sandler), is quite intent on remaining single. And to make sure none of his relationships ever gets serious, the confirmed bachelor falsely informs every woman he dates that he’s married once he’s slept with and is finished with her.
That exploitative tactic serves its purpose until the day he falls head-over-heels for Palmer (Decker), a curvaceous, 23 year-old blonde he picks up at a pool party. She spots his wedding ring after they make love, but instead of continuing the canard as usual, Danny says he’s in the midst of a divorce.
Palmer then asks to be introduced to his wife, so he has his office assistant, Katherine (Aniston), pretend to be his soon-to-be ex. But lunch together only escalates matters, since Palmer subsequently insists on meeting their kids, too, which leads to a more elaborate ruse involving Katherine’s children (Griffin Gluck and Bailee Madison). Eventually, the cockamamie plot has Palmer plus the masquerading menagerie vacationing on Hawaii where Danny goes to greater and greater lengths to keep all his assorted lies straight.
If Just Go With It’s storyline sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because the script is a mirthless overhaul of Cactus Flower, the hilarious farce for which Goldie Hawn won her only Oscar back in 1970. Unfortunately, the two films bear only a superficial resemblance to each other given that the latter’s witty repartee has been supplanted here by the vulgar brand of humor demanded by diehard Sandler fans. En route to the pat redemptive resolution, better brace yourself for a flurry of bodily function gags ranging from an adolescent pooping into a sleeping man’s hand to a German guy giving a gagging sheep the Heimlich maneuver.
Just run from it!
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, partial nudity, drug references and pervasive crude humor.
Running time: 110 Minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures