If there’s a romcom on the horizon, chances are it stars romcom babe Jen Aniston playing her usual tart but loveably dizzy character – not far removed from her Rachel days in fact. So, without knowing much more, the film immediately sparks interest. But Aniston teamed up with manly hunk Gerry Butler in The Bounty Hunter last year, and that stank to high heaven. So, Aniston opposite ‘asexual’ Adam Sandler (sorry, Adam) seems a little far-fetched in the chemistry stakes. Sandler may always want to come across as your average man’s man, the likeable ‘guy next door’ – a comfortable stance to take, but setting the gorgeous Aniston’s heart a flutter in a film seems a long stretch.
Well, Aniston helps by dumbing it down for starters in this, playing Katherine, a single mom with two (irritating) kids who is not only Sandler as plastic surgeon Danny’s office manager/medical assistant, but his best friend, and the one who (surprise, surprise) knows him best. After keeping the ‘downtrodden married man’ routine going when an attempt at getting hitched turns sour, Danny finds the woman of his dreams in Palmer, a stunning blonde maths teacher (played by swimwear model Brooklyn Decker) at least 10 years his junior, and tries to convince her he’s the genuine article. Along comes Katherine as the ‘fake ex’ to save the day, and help spin one big fat lie after another. As you can guess, the Doc sees sense at the last minute, and the rest is history in glorious Hawaii.
Aniston attempting to look dowdy aside – greasy hair, specs and a pashmina is not going to convince anyone, there is a warmly witty banter going on between Aniston and Sandler to enjoy that seems effortless. Naturally, neither offers anything new to their history of romcom appearances – including their bog-standard attire, with Sandler still dressed in his trademark baggy jeans as a plastic surgeon (come on), and Aniston letting those famous tanned pins out for an airing in some of the best footwear of the season.
For us females who often scowl and covet for Aniston’s toned physique, there’s an added secret pleasure. It’s the biggest question of the lot: Who’s the fittest in the itsy, bitsy bikini? Aniston or Decker? There is a Bo Derek 10 moment when bikini babe Palmer comes out of the water like a lost Bond girl who’s just gone for a quick ocean swim, so even before you get to the ‘girl pissing contest’ by the Hawaiian waterfall, Decker’s in the lead for the gong for ‘top totty’. Move over, Jen. And to add to the fortysomething’s woes, Decker is a nice surprise – yes, the model can act, and actually gets to deliver some funny lines, albeit in a goofy manner. It’s no easy feat either, considering whom she plays opposite. The only bile-inducing moment is when they wheel in her real-life hubby, Andy Roddick, for a magical meeting cameo in the Mile High club.
The comedy show stealer by far, though, is Nicole Kidman as the ultra-competitive Devlin Adams, Katherine’s acidic-tongued and insensitive school nemesis who has ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease. Kidman in a part against type is utterly hilarious and has an obvious ball in the process, so this comes across well. Musician Dave Matthews is her equally nauseating husband, Ian Maxtone Jones, supposed iPad inventor, who’s in denial of a different sort. There’s a ‘coconut decider’ that involves Devlin, Ian, Katherine and Danny that’s a real hula howler.
The film also stars Nick Swardson as Danny’s egit cousin Eddie, who comes along for the paradise ride, and pretends to be a sheep exporter and Katherine’s new flame as part of the plan. His appearances turn the film back into a Sandler schoolboy farce, but they detract some of the idiocy away from Sandler who comes across as a wiser being in this.
There are the token kiddies meant to twang the heartstrings, with Bailee Madison as a little Cockney (in the very loosest terms) haggler and Griffin Gluck as her shy brother, Michael, who wants to swim with the dolphins – queue Hawaii. As young actors go, they irritate the hell out of you as they try to be as funny and quirky as their adult counterparts, but are a necessary evil in the plot. The film also has some highly bizarre injects of ‘humorous’ scenarios or set-up shots, like the kid getting Mom with a drink in the car park as Danny’s ‘family’ stride with purpose towards the camera in the background. It’s one of the many slow-mo moments for those who haven’t quite realised how stunning Katherine/Aniston is now she’s all scrubbed up. Plus Palmer does a proper slow-mo Bo moment for sheer titillating purposes, so something for the boys to enjoy.
As the title suggests: just go with it, and take it how you think it will be – you’ll be spot on, either way. You will find some sunshine laughs, though. This isn’t a Devlin by far – you need to see the film to understand this in context, but rest assured there will be plenty using this turn of phrase afterwards, so pity any real Devlins out there. There are far worse romcoms out there at present – not looking at anyone in particular, Kate Hudson…
By Lisa Giles-Keddie
(Follow Lisa on Twitter: @FilmGazer)