Just Go With It

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under CineStrays

Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker
Directed by: Dennis Dugan (“Grown Ups”)
Written by: Allan Loeb (“The Dilemma”) and Timothy Dowling (“Role Models”)

Although it isn’t as unpleasant to watch as other Dennis Dugan-directed Adam Sandler comedies of the last few years (“Grown Ups,” “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”), there’s not much in “Just Go with It” to make you believe Sandler has any intention to give audiences anything more than the bare minimum. A remake of the 1969 comedy “Cactus Flower,” which landed Goldie Hawn an Academy Award,” “JGWI” goes for the cheap jokes and comes up with punch lines to match. Model/actress Brooklyn Decker might be the rom com’s selling point, but there aren’t enough slow-motion walks on the beach that can remedy the Sandler mediocrity.

The Dilemma

January 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder
Directed by: Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”)
Written by: Allan Loeb (“The Switch”)
Academy award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) has given us some exceptional films over the course of his nearly 25-year career as a director. Despite making a couple of memorable comedies during that time (“Splash” and “Parenthood”), the genre isn’t one you’d consider his forte. With “The Dilemma,” it’s safe to say he still doesn’t have it quite figured out.
In “The Dilemma,” Vince Vaughn and Kevin James deliver their usual buffoonery as best friends and business partners Ronny Valentine and Nick Brannen. When Ronny (Vaughn) discovers Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) is cheating on Nick, he can’t decide whether or not to break the news to him while he is under a critical deadline for work.
Without much chemistry between Vaughn and James, “The Dilemma” allows its two stars to take turns in the spotlight. Vaughn does his usual nonsensical rambling (sometimes it works, here it doesn’t) while James grumps it up and even finds time to have a conniption fit on the dance floor (when will James learn he’s not Chris Farley?).
Where “The Dilemma” truly fails, however, is in its awkward tone. Howard has no idea what type of film he wants to create. While there is definitely a darker side to the comedy, it never feels like a true dark comedy. When it goes for the lowbrow humor, “The Dilemma” proves it has a major identity crisis that is impossible to remedy with such a weak and misguided script.

The Switch

August 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by: Josh Gordon (“Blades of Glory”) and Will Speck (“Blades of Glory”)
Written by: Allan Loeb (“Things We Lost in the Fire”)
While any pitch that starts off with the words, “By the two guys who directed ‘Blades of Glory’” isn’t necessarily an effective selling point, “The Switch” finds a way to avoid becoming the sitcom-type movie it sets itself up to be by delivering some surprising sentimentality and an honest script by screenwriter Allan Loeb (“Things We Lost in the Fire”). Despite a lack of hearty laughs, this is the kind of dramedy where it feels just as good to smile.

In “The Switch,” originally titled “The Baster,” Hollywood sweetheart Jennifer Aniston (“The Break Up”) stars as Kassie Larson, a TV producer who can’t ignore the thumping of her biological clock any longer. She wants a baby, but without any potential relationships lined up Kassie decides that all she really needs is a suitable sperm donor to make her a mommy.

Jason Bateman (“Juno”) plays Wally Mars, Kassie’s cynical analyst best friend who isn’t keen on her plans to conceive artificially. During her sperm donor party (what, you’ve never been to one?), Wally replaces the sperm sample of Kassie’s preferred donor Roland (Patrick Wilson) with his own, although he was under the influence when he made the, er, deposit.

After Kassie moves away from New York City and back again in the span of seven years, Wally finally meets his son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson in a scene-stealing role) who he doesn’t really know is his offspring until he starts noticing peculiar little similarities they share while he spends time with him. Not only does Sebastian have some of his quirks, he’s also quite neurotic for a kid his age.

But how does Wally bring up a secret he’s never been aware of until recently? Things get even messier when Kassie begins to date the original sperm donor, who has always thought he contributed to her happiness.

Despite a fairly predictable screenplay, directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck and screenwriter Loeb aren’t tied down to any lowbrow humor a film like “The Switch” could have easily relied on. Instead, there are some genuine, heartfelt moments especially during the scenes Bateman and young Robinson share together. It’s through these tender moments when “The Switch” wears its heart on its sleeve and becomes a sweet film that explores the complications of parenthood and friendship.