The Comedy of Moral Hazard
No. No, I’m not going to just go with it. The title alone of this latest atrocity in the oeuvre of Adam Sandler, Professional Manchild, is an admission that it is absurd on its face, even grading on the Adam Sandler Curve, and a plea to forgive it anyway. But even worse, it’s perhaps the most egregious example yet — and not only in the oeuvre of Adam Sandler, Professional Manchild — of the New American Dream: Do whatever you want, to whomever you want, no matter how evil, no matter how wrong, and you will not only escape punishment, you will be richly rewarded for your antisocial behavior. If Wall Street can get away with it, it is a thing of nothing for Adam Sandler to do so.
Is it any wonder that is always seems to be Jennifer Aniston, America’s It Girl, who gets screwed by spectacularly selfish men who embody this ideal? (See, for instance, The Switch. Or The Bounty Hunter. Or Management.) Poor Aniston: She is the foreclosure crisis of the modern Hollywood romantic comedy.
Plenty will forgive Sandler (Grown Ups, Funny People) and just go with it, because Just Go with It is full of everything you expect from an Adam Sandler movie, everything that has made him a rich, rich man: ethnic stereotypes, abuse by and of children, toilet humor, comedic crotch injury, some nearly naked tits, and the boob Sandler engaging in the desperate fantasy — intended to be shared by his manchild audience — that supermodel types would so have sex with him at the drop of a hat. As a bonus, we also get terrible jokes about plastic surgery — Sandler here plays the worst doctor you’d never want to go to for help, not the least reason for which is that he makes fun of his patients in their presence — and the (not-at-all) charming portrayal of women as either horrible bitches who are so so mean to poor, poor Sandler, or sentimental, naive, easily manipulated idiots that he can easily take advantage of.
See, Sandler’s unmarried Danny wears a wedding ring and tells awful stories about being abused by his nonexistent wife, which causes all manner of gorgeous women to take pity on him, fuck him, and not expect anything in return (like a second date). This is considered a good thing on Danny’s part, until the scheme backfires when, a few hours and one orgasm after meeting Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), he’s convinced she’s The One. Now, if can just cajole his office manager, Katherine (Aniston), into pretending to be the bitch-on-wheels wife he’s divorcing — because Palmer wants to hear it from her that the “marriage” is over — all can be made right. Katherine herself raises the very obvious objections to such a plan — like, if it works, the girlfriend-later-wife will inevitably find out that Katherine works in Danny’s office — but never mind. Just go with it!
And so commences the supposedly funny shopping montage designed to turn the (not-at-all) frumpy Katherine fabulous enough to be a plastic surgeon’s spouse. (Best-worst bit: A hairdresser insults Aniston’s hair, a shag so famous it’s actually named for her, and then after he performs a “transcendent” “miracle” on her, Katherine looks exactly the same. I wish that was intended as some sort of satirical commentary on obsessions with physical appearance, but it isn’t. Director and cinematic criminal Dennis Dugan [You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry] doesn’t even appear to be aware of the subtext of the scene.) Then it’s off to Hawaii, with single-mother Katherine’s obnoxious kids (Bailee Madison [Brothers] and Griffin Gluck) and Danny’s horny dork pal Eddie (Nick Swardson: Bedtime Stories, Bolt), pretending to be the guy the fake wife is leaving Sandler for. Don’t ask why they’re all going on vacation together. Just go with it!
In the larger scheme of things, however, the trip does offer additional opportunities to humiliate the women while ensuring that Sandler is painted in the best possible light. (Eddie does come in for some degradation, but he at least invites it with his idiocy; the women do not.) Palmer, for one, is supposed to be so very wise, supposedly able to tell when “sensitive” Sandler is lying and when he isn’t, and yet she turns into a complete dimbulb, suddenly unable to recognize the Three Stooges routine that is playing out before her as everyone unconvincingly plays unhappy families. Katherine, for the other, is forced to concede that she is actually in love with Danny, and say such unlikely things as “He’s great — he’s the greatest guy.” (No. No, he isn’t.) Also humiliated are Nicole Kidman (Nine, Australia) and Dave Matthews (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Because of Winn-Dixie) in a hugely suspect joint cameo: they appear to have been imported at great expense from another movie, one that might actually genuinely combine the comedic and the absurd; and interestingly, Matthews’ own degradation does involve an unmanning, in more ways than one. (Note to Matthews: If this is how Hollywood wants to treat you, stick to your day job.)
This is a revolting movie, and yet one that, alas, sings robustly with the tenor of the times. Real men cheat and lie and that’s how they win, and if the rest don’t like it… well, we’ll be forced to. We’ll be made to see that it’s better for us all in the long run anyway.