February 11, 2011, - 5:17 pm

Wknd Box Office: Just Go With It, Barney’s Version, The Eagle

By Debbie Schlussel

Once again, there’s nothing great at the movies, this weekend.  But the relative best of the bunch is a lite–very, very lite–version of “300.”

*  “Just Go With It“:  More like, Just Avoid It (Like the Plague).  Four words:  Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston.  When either is in a movie, you know to run the other way.  When both are in it, run like hell.  Whenever I see the “Happy Madison” production company (Sandler’s company) logo at the beginning of a movie, it’s like the Chinese symbol for, “Garbage Ahead.”  Everything Sandler touches turns to dreck, but, for him, turns into gold.  So, I guess I should call him “RumpelSandlerkin.”  I just wish he wouldn’t push the “I’m a Jew” thing in our face in his awful movies, as some sort of kosher seal of approval for crap.  Please, Adam, we don’t wanna claim ya.

This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it was very, very close. I laughed less than a handful of times during this “comedy,” in which the jokes are mostly disgusting bathroom humor–literally fecal material stuff, getting hit in the penis, and falling on a ladder on the penis.  Oh, and some plastic surgery accidents.  Yeah, that’s funny . . . if you’re a pothead frat-boy slacker. I mean, really, a kid going to the bathroom and defecating on a guy’s arm because he’s asleep in the bathtub and has his arm in the toilet–this is funny? Yuck.

The story: a Jewish plastic surgeon who used to have a nose that looked like a sausage discovers that wearing a wedding ring, even though he’s not married, helps him attract women at bars, etc.  But, eventually, Sandler meets the girl of his dreams (or so he thinks), swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker (terrible actress and real-life wife of tennis player Andy Roddick, who has a cameo in the movie).  He has sex with her after a party, and when they wake up the next morning, she discovers his wedding ring, which she thinks is real.  He can’t tell her it’s just a tactic to pick up women, so he makes up a story that his medical assistant, Jennifer Aniston is his wife, but that they are getting divorced.  For the rest of the movie, Aniston and her kids pretend to be Sandler’s family, and they are all on vacation in Hawaii.  Nicole Kidman (so much botox my face froze looking at her close-ups) plays Aniston’s enemy from her college sorority. Dave Matthews plays her husband.

Believe me, I’m making it sound better–much better–than it is.  It’s simply awful.  And gross.  Not to mention, predictable.  Typical Sandler silver screen sludge (say that five times fast). Skipworthy to the max.

FOUR MARXES
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* “The Eagle“: This is the best of this weekend’s new movie releases, but all things are relative. I found this movie a little too long and drawn out. And I question the casting of the very hot–but way too ghetto–Channing Tatum as a Roman warrior general in a “300 Lite,” which is basically what this movie is.  He just didn’t seem right for the role.  Too hayseed-esque.

The movie takes place when the Romans occupied and ruled England.  Tatum is the son of a Roman warrior general who died in a botched battle, or so the story goes.  Tatum thinks his father was far more noble than legend has it, and he, himself, is now a young general with many of doubters even among his closest top officers.  He is seeking to regain the eagle, a talisman/emblem of his father’s legion of soldiers, and willing to fight to the death to get it.  But while his bravery in battle regains him the confidence of his men, Tatum is injured and retired from the battlefield, recovering at his uncle, Donald Sutherland’s house.  Soon, Tatum and his servant are planning an incursion to regain the eagle from enemy warring tribes and have infiltrated.

This is a guy’s movie.  There are many extended fighting scenes and, for the women who tag along, there are gratuitous shots galore of Tatum’s well-toned naked chest and most of the rest of his body.  But, like I said, the movie was slow and long-ish.  And it lacked that spark or special something.  Who fights and gets men killed for a tiny statue?  Seems kinda dumb to me.  Not heroic.  On the other hand, there was nothing objectionable in this and it shows men and masculinity in a positive, worthy light.

ONE AND A HALF REAGANS
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*  “Barney’s Version“:  I’m not sure what the point of this extremely long, and boring movie was, other than to mimic Adam Sandler’s plan to make Jews look bad and coarse.  It was clearly made by either self-hating Jews or anti-Semites or both.  If I were an author of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” transported in a time machine to this century, this is the kind of film I’d be making. Based on a novel by the late Canadian Jewish writer, Mordecai Richler, Paul Giamatti plays Barney Panofsky, a hippie-turned-PBS-television-exec-turned-producer-of-low-budget-TV-shows.  His father, a very low-class Montreal cop, is played by Dustin Hoffman.

The movie follows Panofsky from his marriage to a drugged out nutty Jewish woman to his marriage to a spoiled Jewish woman, to his leaving her on their wedding night to pick  up another woman, who becomes his third wife and, then, ex-wife.  Oh, and then there’s the matter of whether Barney killed his best friend, something of which he’s accused in the media and by the investigating police detective.  And, finally, Barney gets Alzheimer’s disease and dies.  And this is entertaining because .  . . ?

Not only was this extremely sad and depressing (and a pointless waste of time), but it also throws in every anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews in the book.  One scene shows Barney’s uncle telling him how to cheat people out of money by claiming it’s to support Israel and that it will be the only place to go because the Holocaust will happen again.  Oy vey.  Even the dish I hate most, gefilte fish, is infinitely more palatable than this trash.

They’re showing this mostly in arthouse theaters, where liberal-lefty Jews who voted for Barack Obama will actually think this is a great movie because it’s about Jews.  Who needs Bin Laden Studios, when you have the people who made this movie doing a far better job at the assignment?

Paul Giamatti is a great actor, but he belongs in far better stuff than this.  And I wonder how he’d feel about a Jewish actor playing the worst stereotypes of Italians in a movie.

FOUR MARXES PLUS A BIN LADEN
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17 Responses

Just how many more “romans can’t survive north of the wall” movies do we really need? They release at least one or two every year, in theaters or direct to video. Please, just come up with something original.

How about doing one about the “Lost Legion”. A whole roman legion is tricked in to the German forest and completely wiped out. To Rome they just disappeared. Signs of their final battle weren’t discovered until the 1980′s.

ender on February 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

“I wonder how he’d feel about a Jewish actor playing the worst stereotypes of Italians in a movie.”

Um, I believe James Caan did that in “The Godfather.”

I: I knew, as I wrote that, that someone would bring up Caan in “The Godfather,” but that was far different. Even as they were criminals in the movie, they were mobsters and weren’t in any way “stereotypes” of Italian-Americans, just stereotypes of mobsters. Plus, they acted with some sort of honor and decorum. This was just a walking Jew-hate-fest by Jews. Much worse. DS

Irving on February 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Darling Debbie, I usually agree with your movie reviews.

While most Sandlers movies are indeed junk, not EVERY one is bad.

I loved “Wedding Singer.” It’s one of my favorite movies. Funny and romantic and very sweet.

Not as great, but “Waterboy” was kind of entertaining.

I’m tired of the gladiator movies, and even though I’ve never seen a Jennifer Aniston movie, she’s so ridiculously hot. I’d take her over Angelina Jolie any day, even though both must be nuts.

Jeff W. on February 11, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Ender, your idea of doing a movie about the “lost legion” is exactly what The Eagle is all about. It’s based on the mysteriously lost Roman ninth legion, put into fiction by Rosemary Sutcliff in 1954.

Debbie, I agree with all your criticisms of The Eagle, but still liked it a little more than you. Like you, I appreciated that it presented good, decent, strong role models for men (there were no women). Production values were good, also. It was disappointing that Tatum Channing lacked anything special in the way of nuance or charisma, but there was still plenty in the film to keep me interested, such as the overall conservative message (the main one being that square values like honor and loyalty are more important than hip values like being cool) and also all the historical notes of the period. A “period piece” from Hollywood might involve going back to the 1970s; that’s about as much history as we audiences demand and Hollywood provides. So this was a nice change going back nineteen centuries.

As for Just Go With It, it was no Wedding Singer, nor was it Waterboy. It was, though, a lot better than three recent Sandler movies Click, Chuck and Larry, and Grownups which were low points in cinema. There were in this film, I thought, genuinely funny chuckles mixed in with the lame jokes about boobs, butts, crotches, mud in face, blows to the nuts and poop on the arm. The funny bits helped get me through the other parts.

Burke on February 12, 2011 at 1:42 am

Not that you reviewed it, but on-the-ground feedback about Gnomeo and Juliet has been largely positive.

As for Justin Bieber’s flick- some of the mothers dragged along for the show have said that it was reasonably okay, which is about as good as any parent could possibly have hoped for 2 hours of Bieber Fever.

Robert on February 12, 2011 at 3:40 am

I can tell that Debbie is no fan of Mordechai Richler, and that’s very understandable considering that he loves to make fun of everything and everyone.

When I was in grade 10, I had to dissect “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” as well as watch the movie adaptation starring Richard Dreyfuss in the title role. The book was sharp, mean spirited and presented Kravitz as a heartless schmuck. The move was more than meh and presented Kravitz as just slightly misunderstood.

The disconnect in perception that occurs in adapting novels to screenplays is why I avoid movie adaptations (especially Hollywood-bankrolled) for the most part. I prefer to enjoy the book instead.

As for Richler, he must be in a better place saying, “Nu. Whatever.”

As for your Sandler review, I guess it’s just a case of “It’s not who you know but who you… y’know.”

The Reverend Jacques on February 12, 2011 at 8:38 am

A slight comment about the “Eagles.” The honor of a Legion was wrapped up in its Eagles, like the Colors of a Civil war regiment. I’m looking forward to your review of Gnomeo and Juliet.

Occam's Tool on February 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I’m tired of these Romans North of the Wall movies potraying the worst aspects of early Britons.

Seriously, why do they make these sword and sandals movies with no star power? Even the ones with stars under performed and are forgettable (TROY). “Gladiator” was a fluke and a decade old one now at that. They seem like guaranteed money losers. (Not saying it’s a bad movie, though Channig Tatum points to it being a stinker.)

Roman Holidaze on February 12, 2011 at 6:38 pm

the CBC was showing trailers of “Barnie’s Version” — even from the trailers, it was obvious. But the CBC movie reviewer thought it was a “successful” adaptation and loved it (that figures; just another self-hating Jew.)

J.S. on February 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I really loved some of Sandler’s early movies (waterboy, happy gilmore). They had some charm mixed in with the juvenile aspects but almost everything since Big Daddy has sucked, or worse been a parody of itself. I can’t believe people go to these movies. To think Sandler can shine in something like Punch Drunk Love or be down to earth in Funny People.. but man he is a crap train most of the time… and Aniston.. heck, she wasn’t even good in Office Space…

david koblentz on February 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm

He can’t tell her it’s just a tactic to pick up women, so he makes up a story that his medical assistant, Jennifer Aniston is his wife, but that they are getting divorced.

Remember CACTUS FLOWER?

Miranda Rose Smith on February 13, 2011 at 4:21 am

Even the dish I hate most, gefilte fish, is infinitely more palatable than this trash.

I LOVE gefilte fish. Shavuah Tov!

Miranda Rose Smith on February 13, 2011 at 4:22 am

If I could capture the rage of today’s youth and bottle it
Crush the glass from my bare hands and swallow it
Then spit it back in the faces of you racists
and hypocrites who think the same shit but don’t say shit
You Liberace’s, Versace’s, and you nazis
Watch me, cause you thinkin you got me in this hot seat
You motherfuckers wanna JUDGE me cause you’re NOT me
You’ll never STOP me, I’m TOP speed as you POP me
I came to save these new generations of babies
from parents who failed to raise ‘em cause they’re lazy
to grow to praise me I’m makin ‘em go crazy
That’s how I got this whole nation to embrace me
And you fugazi if you think I’ma admit wrong
I cripple any hypocritic critic I’m sic’d on
And this song is for any kid who gets picked on
A sick song to retaliate to, and it’s called..

SLIMSHADY on February 14, 2011 at 12:12 am

Debbie,
I gotta protest vehemently!!
“Who fights and gets men killed for a tiny statue?”
The “EAGLE”, to a Roman soldier, was the embodiment of his legion. The guy who carried it dressed in bearskin, had many special privleges, and was to defend it to the death. Kind of like the Holy Grail of the Legionary. There really isn’t a modern equivlent to its role.
Being a Roman History nut, I take these aspersions you cast personally!!!!!

Dennis P. Skea on February 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

To J.S. and those who are still wondering who Arcade Fire are – there are 2 cultures in Canada: Canadian culture, and CBC culture. They are not one-and-the-same. They are not to be confused with one another.

Just saying.

The Reverend Jacques on February 15, 2011 at 8:35 am

just saw Barney’s Version and completely agree with what you said. The depiction of every Jew in the film was ugly, obnoxious and disgusting. It was too long, melodramatic and unfunny.
Next.

shelley piser on March 6, 2011 at 1:05 am

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