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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Just Go With It

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker star in "Just Go With It."
Take a sophisticated classic farce—set it in Hawaii—then trash the piece, and you have "Just Go With It" (Columbia).

In this very loose—and sloppy—remake of 1969's "Cactus Flower," director Dennis Dugan and screenwriters Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling supply Adam Sandler with the overload of potty humor on which nearly all of Sandler's films seem to depend, along with stale dialogue that quickly depletes audience sympathy for Sandler and the other stars.

What was originally a sweet adult romance involving an escalating series of funny complications and a modest message about being true to one's self thus becomes comatose almost from the start.

The latest version has been badly unmoored from the plot lines of the earlier film—which featured Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn—the Broadway staging that preceded it, and its French source play. In those, a philandering dentist tells his many girlfriends he's trapped in a bad marriage, a claim that not only earns him sympathy and physical affection, but also provides an easy escape hatch from commitment.

Once the playboy finally decides to settle down, however, he needs to produce a "wife" he can ostensibly divorce, an effort in which he enlists his spinster nurse, who, it turns out, is secretly in love with him.

Here, Sandler plays Danny, a plastic surgeon, with Jennifer Aniston as his assistant Katherine. No lovelorn old maid is she; instead, she's a sensible divorced mom raising precocious kids Maggie (Bailee Madison) and Michael (Griffin Gluck). The young woman Danny decides to marry is schoolteacher Palmer (Brooklyn Decker, most famous as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model).

Palmer, who remembers the pain of her parents' split, decides she wants to meet and befriend Danny's spouse, and is even more delighted to learn there are children involved. This launches a series of deceptions, including a "lover" for Katherine—a role into which Danny drags in his cousin Eddie (Nick Swardson)—and a "family" vacation in the Aloha State that gives Decker an excuse to don a bikini.

Within this misguided updating, the available outlets for comedy involve a long series of bathroom references, sight gags of botched plastic surgery, and the appearance of Katherine's old "frenemy" Devlin (Nicole Kidman), who gets caught in some lies of her own.

The original story may be redolent of snap-brim fedoras, Vitalis and cigarettes, but at least it had a warm heart this version distinctly lacks.

The film contains an implied premarital situation, considerable scatological humor, sexual banter and fleeting crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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