Tag Archives: Bailee Madison

Movie Review: Just Go With It (2011)

It seems like it was so long ago that I was an Adam Sandler fan.  I loved his crazy, stupid movies.  No matter what anyone says about them, they were (for the most part) hilarious and unique in that Sandler-esque kind of way.

These days, frankly, Sandler’s movies suck.  They’ve become predictable, formulaic, and not very funny.  I feel like he is undergoing some kind of mid-life crisis, for some reason always trying to make his films have a proper storyline and some kind of message about life.  That’s not his forte.

And so it was with reservations that I went to see Just Go With It, a ‘romantic comedy’ about a plastic surgeon who pretends he is married to lure chicks, kind of like that episode of Seinfeld where George gave it a go.  And just like George in that episode, the scheme backfires when he meets the woman of his dreams (Andy Roddick’s SI model wife Brooklyn Decker), and must now continue to pretend he is temporarily ‘married’ by getting his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) to act as his wife.

You don’t need me to tell you where this movie heads and how it ends up.

As I mentioned above, Sandler doesn’t make good movies anymore (his best efforts these days are, I would say, ‘average’ at best).  Jennifer Aniston almost never makes watchable movies.  Throw the two together and it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Fortunately for them, there were a few good moments in Just Go With It, but none of them involved Sandler or Aniston.  The real stars of the film were Bailee Madison (who plays Aniston’s quirky daughter) and Nick Swardson (who is more hit and miss but has some good moments as Sandler’s cousin).  And Brooklyn Decker was surprisingly adequate as the fake love interest, demonstrating not only that she can act but also that she possesses decent comedic timing.  There’s also a supporting role with Nicole Kidman that I didn’t know about, but she wasn’t as funny as she could or should have been.

But ultimately, Just Go With It is probably exactly what you’d expect it to be — two big stars, an initially interesting premise, a predictable plot and a few good jokes, but far too many bad ones.  Potentially worthy as a DVD rental on a rainy night if you are in the right mood, but otherwise don’t waste your money.

2.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Brothers (2009)

Brothers is an emotionally charged war/family drama that really surprised me.  I didn’t think it would be this good.

Based on the 2004 Danish film Brødre, it stars Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal, and is directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father).  It tells the story of the Cahill family, focusing on the relationships between the brothers Sam (Maguire), a US soldier, and Tommy (Gyllenhaal), his ex-con brother, and Sam’s wife Grace (Portman).  Of course, the less known about the plot the better.

When I first came across the trailer, a few thoughts raced through my head.  One, this is one heck of a stellar cast.  Two, the story looks kind of interesting.  Three, Natalie Portman looks so pretty.  But then…four, this looks like a blatant rip off of Pearl Harbor, except with no special effects and proper actors!

Well, I was wrong.  The first half of the film went pretty much according to script (it was essentially revealed by the trailer anyway — another reason I hate them), and it had me worried.  The sequence of events was predictable and the characters felt a little too scripted.

But somehow, the second half of the film took off, and the story went in a direction that caught me off guard completely.  I was so glad they didn’t go down the traditional route, which would have been very tempting.  Instead, they focused on other, more compelling issues, and added little twists to what I thought would have been stock-standard dramatic scenes.  Yes, it’s essentially just a family melodrama, but by the end, I was totally captivated and emotionally engaged.

Some fantastic performances anchor the film.  Of course, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman are superb as always, but it’s Tobey Maguire that stands out most amongst the three, even if it’s primarily because of his character.  He’s had some very impressive performances in his career, but I think this might be the best I’ve seen him.  His physical transformation was very unsettling, and most of all he created a believable and sympathetic character.

If there is a complaint it’s that the film felt longer than it’s 105-minute running time, and there’s something about the oldest daughter, played by Bailee Madison, that didn’t quite feel authentic to me, as terrific an actress as she is.  But notwithstanding that, I found Brothers to be a very worthwhile experience.

4 out of 5 stars!