Just Go With It (2011)

Just Go With ItReleased: February 11, 2011. Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman. Runtime: 117 min.

One can only watch an Adam Sandler flick so many times before it gets worn out. Apparently, one could only watch “Just Go With It” twice before it gets worn out. Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston have a good chemistry that grows better as the movie goes along. They never particularly hate each other, but they have to act like it because the hoax is that they’re divorced after many years of happiness.

The hoax is grown by Sandler’s Danny Maccabee who carries a ring around with him for years. He was left at the alter by the one he loved (his real life wife, Jennifer Sandler), because of his huge nose. He’s never been able to throw the ring away because if he has it, he won’t be hurt again. He meets an extremely attractive young woman, Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), and after she finds his wedding ring in his pocket, he makes up a story about how he is just getting divorced. Of course, she wants to meet her. The successful plastic surgeon Danny enlists the help of his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) to help him out with the cause, and her kids (Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck) get sweeped into the debacle after the kid schemes his way into a Hawaii vacation. There, Danny and Katherine (Aniston) must keep the scheme alive without falling in love in the process.

The movie is watchable, but it isn’t great after multiple viewings. First viewing, it’s okay. By the third viewing, it’s not even good background noise. It’s usually fairly funny, but only if you like predictable humour. And even for a movie like this, it’s too tedious at 117 minutes.

Half of the occurences in the film just happen because they can. Nick Swardson has an irritating German accent, just because he can. He has goofy glasses. There’s no point to it, since Swardson’s character Eddie, Danny’s best friend, wouldn’t have met Palmer prior to the vacation he schemes his way on. Swardson also isn’t very funny, here. One of the only movies he’s been funny in, in all honesty, is “The Benchwarmers.” I also don’t know why Maccabee and Katherine had to tell people they were getting divorced while shopping and preparing for the charade.

Brooklyn Decker certainly isn’t cast for her acting abilities. She’s cast because she fills out a bikini well, but couldn’t we have gotten a young actress with talent and a hot bod? Alice Eve wasn’t available? Decker’s cleavage should have gotten higher billing than Decker herself.

Bailee Madison’s okay. Griffin Gluck’s terrible. His emotionless way about him is seriously depressing. Nicole Kidman has rarely looked less attractive than here. The humour is low-brow and predictable. The only true laugh might only be a “Lord of the Rings” reference. At least after multiple viewings. Even on first viewing, it’s difficult to recommend. This is at least way better than Sandler’s other 2011 release, “Jack and Jill.” But if you’re watching this for Aniston, just watch “Horrible Bosses.”

Score50/100

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We’re the Millers (2013)

We're the MillersReleased: August 7, 2013. Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber. Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter. Runtime: 110 min.

The opening scene of “We’re the Millers” made me anxious for the movie I was about to see. It opens with some of the most popular YouTube videos of the last few years. It’s somewhat lazy and quite random, so I wasn’t sure if I was about to see a haphazardly-edited, lazy movie. The idea of showing some of the funniest/most popular YouTube videos (“Double Rainbow,” “Surprised Kitty”) is clever, and a great way to get the audience laughing early. It’s clever since it’s not done a lot, and one would think an idea so simple would show up more. The movie is more clever than lazy.

The story follows a small-time veteran drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) who finds himself in a tough spot. He gets mugged by three punks who steal his stash (worth $43,000). It’s almost a fool-proof crime. One can’t go to a police officer with a thing like “Some guys stole my weed that’s enough to put me in jail for a long time.” His supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), tells him to go to Mexico to get a smidgeon and a half of weed and smuggle it back across the U.S. border. If he does so, he’ll get some money and they’d be even. This job is out of David’s league, and he can’t do it easily because he looks like a drug dealer.

He hires a stripper (Rose, played by Jennifer Aniston), a virgin (Kenny, played by Will Poulter), and a runaway (Casey, played by Emma Roberts) to be his fake family, because no one expects any funny business from families. Sounds easy, right? They’ll have to deal with a few antagonists along the way, because otherwise, the funny ride would be too short.

All of the members of the Miller “family” get their chance to shine, with Sudeikis being the funniest; Aniston being the sexiest. I’m liking Sudeikis more and more in bigger roles. Aniston’s roles have been getting edgy and vulgar, so I can’t wait to see what she does next, even if she isn’t as funny as she is in “Horrible Bosses.” Sexier, yes, but not as awesome. I’d like to see more of Will Poulter. He steals more than a few scenes – as he’s the one needing a family foundation the most. I love how Emma Roberts seems to be trying to shed her goody-two-shoes reputation, and she has successfully done so with her vulgarity – but it’s mostly thanks to a different, crazy role prior to this film. You’ll know it when you see it. All I know, she’s a great young actress.

There’s a host of funny characters throughout. Ed Helms’ Brad Gurdlinger is that one psychopath is an office building who could snap at any moment. (With a white ass name like Brad Gurlinger, I’d probably snap, too.) But he’s the big-time supplier who runs his business out of a big building that could be a more orthodox corporate business. And oh, he’s a big ole nerdy schmuck who has, indeed, killed people.

We're the Millers1The Millers also meet the Fitzgerald family, who’s actually a legitimate vacationing family, led by the always chuckle-worthy Nick Offerman (TV’s “Parks and Recreation,”) and Kathryn Hahn (“Step Brothers”). They come in for some of the funniest scenes, where director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball”) gets to show some of his great skills and ability to get big laughs out of the audience. The actors also help out a lot by having the great timing that they do. And he directs a glorious stripping scene for Aniston, and what a scene it is. (For a movie that has many scenes set in a strip club, there’s a surprisingly low amount of nudity. Though, not many of us are expecting Aniston to get fully nude.)

With comedies, one must ask, “Is it funny?” Hell yeah, “We’re the Millers” is hilarious, with its amusing references and great homages. (The TLC homage to “Waterfalls” gets big laughs.) Another question that will probably weigh on peoples’ minds is, “How original is it?” This movie doesn’t strive on originality. It’s familiar and a lot like every other road trip movie. It’s also the most predictable movie of the summer, outside of “The Heat.” But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good time. The comedy has a fine comedic momentum. There’s one part in the third act where there wasn’t a big laugh for ten minutes (which comes around the 90-minute mark), but it finds its funny way about it again sooner than later. And the fact that it does have consistent laughs for the first 90 minutes is pretty damn good.

There’s a scene at the beginning where one of David’s old college buddies shows up (Thomas Lennon, who seems to be everywhere), and admits his envy for David’s bachelor, drug dealing life, since he has a wife and kids. In a predictable movie like this, I don’t think I have to tell you the purpose of this nice scene.

There are sentimental and nice scenes (sort-of like that) throughout the movie, between lots of dick jokes, but unlike “Identity Thief,” most ring true. And also unlike “Identity Thief,” you care about these characters. (This almost makes me sad that I gave “Identity Thief” such a high score – 72, to be exact; I watched it once more and it felt more like a 63.) “We’re the Millers” utilizes its simple road trip premise much better than most would think, and produces a hilarious ride.

Score75/100

Wanderlust (2012)

WanderlustWanderlust

Release Date: February 24, 2012

Director: David Wain

Stars: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Malin Åkerman

Runtime: 98 min

Tagline: Leave your baggage behind

George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a Manhattan couple suddenly stricken with unemployment. They must relocate to George’s brother’s place in Atlanta to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. Along the way, they stop at Elysium Bed and Breakfast, a small commune away from society where hippies get high and play instruments. George starts to enjoy this place, and when he actually gets to his brother’s place – he realizes he doesn’t want to be bossed around in what may be his last days on earth, he wants it to be filled with love and enjoyment. The couple agree to a trial-run of two weeks at Elysium, a place where free love rules. At first Linda is skeptical, but eventually, she starts to enjoy it a little more than he does.

As far as strange mainstream comedies go, Wanderlust is pretty high up on the list. There’s a running theme of peace and love throughout the feature; but basically, it’s about the relationship and struggles between George and Linda. George has more of a conservative attitude, and Linda’s attitude changes over time to match that of Elysium. George, as a man, says he’s okay with the free love attitude – but he really isn’t. This brings rise to some very poor communication problems, but it also brings rise to the funniest scene of the film where George wants to put his diack in Eva (Malin Åkerman). Really and truly, that’s the only scene that could get me to laugh my ass off in any way, thanks to the comedic talent of Paul Rudd. Other than that, there is usually just some chuckles and little laughs along the way. The only sort-of good characters are George, Linda (if you can dismiss her irritating behaviour and Anniston’s traditional rom-com humour), and Eva (but it really helps that Åkerman is really sexy). Though, the characters portrayed by Jordan Peele and Joe Lo Truglio are pretty funny. Alan Alda’s character is good at first, but he soon gets irritating. The most annoying character is Kathy, a character whose jokes don’t make you laugh, they make you uncomfortable. She is unbearably irritating and frustrating.

There’s a message of leave the real world behind and see what life is like without all the technology and the influence of the media. This is a pleasant message because it is never shoved down the audience’s throat, and it is only subtly evident.

Wanderlust falls victim to some romantic comedy cliches, but not enough to make the film unbearable. It’s fairly predictable, sometimes dull, sometimes obnoxious, and it has a lot of hit-and-miss characters and jokes. It’s usually fun and entertaining, too, though.The purpose isn’t too evident, but Rudd, Aniston and Åkerman carry it well. The worst thing about this film is probably the nudity: there is a lot of nudity, but the ones taking off their clothes aren’t the ones you’d want to see nude (and when Aniston is, she’s censored).

65/100

Celebrity Birthdays: October 15 – 21

Sorry for the delay, I got my days mixed up.

Bailee Madison (October 15)

Happy 13th birthday to Bailee Madison. She is a great young actress. At only the age of 13, she has worked with Robert Patrick (in Bridge to Terabithia); Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire (all in Brothers); Hilary Swank (in Conviction); Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston (in Just Go With It); and Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, and the writer Guillermo Del Toro (in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark).

Jon Favreau (October 19)

Happy 46th birthday to Jon Favreau, director of the Iron Man films and the (apparently) disappointing Cowboys & Aliens. I’m not a really big fan, but his films seem good for those super hero fans.

Viggo Mortensen (October 20)

Happy 54th birthday to Viggo Mortensen. He is best known for performing in A History of Violence, and playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings series. He frequently works with director David Cronenberg, their collaborations include: A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method.

Danny Boyle (October 20)

Happy 56th birthday to Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, 28 Days Later… and Trainspotting. He looks a bit like a tall version of Golum from the LOTR films, doesn’t he? (I say jokingly.) I liked Slumdog Millionaire, but not really 127 Hours.

Other Birthdays: Oct. 15, Larry Miller (59). Oct. 16, Tim Robbins (54); Brea Grant (31). Oct. 18, Zac Efron (25); Freida Pinto (28). Oct. 21, Carrie Fisher (56).

Who is your favourite actor/actress on this list?

My reviews of films they have starred in: 

Bailee Madison: Bridge to Terabithia (2007)