This weekend, “Just Go With It” recovered some of its $80 million budget, opening number one at the box offices. The film, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, even out-sold Justin Bieber’s highly anticipated 3D concert-movie. While this box-office showdown has me confused, no doubt, it proves how lastingly bankable certain celebrities can be. Certainly the film itself is not the draw, but its talent. As A.O. Scott states in his New York Times review of the film:
I should start by confessing that I spent a lot of time before the screening of “Just Go With It” — and a few stretches while it was actually going on — trying to remember what the darn thing was called. I may have to look up the title a few more times before this review is done, and the movie is likely to live on in my memory (to the extent that it will) as “that one with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in Hawaii.” Which pretty much sums up both the appeal and the limitations of this passive-aggressive, naughty but nice, sometimes obnoxious and occasionally quite funny late-winter romantic comedy.
Not a rave, to say the least. But the success of this movie got me thinking about the original funny-men. Before Seth Rogan or Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler, the original funny-man, Buster Keaton, was building the foundation for slapstick.
“The Great Stone Face,” as Keaton (1895-1966) was affectionately known, created a comedic style before the advent of talkies. Born into a vaudeville family, he spent his youth on stage. Skeptical of motion pictures (as most theater-people were), Keaton took it upon himself to dissemble and reassemble a camera. With a newfound understanding and respect for the medium, Keaton began his career as a screen-actor and filmmaker. Without dialogue, Keaton’s comedies required a highly exaggerated physicality. Through creative editing and – what was essentially – mime, the comedic genre was born. Buster Keaton will forever be regarded as the father of comedic acting and has been recognized innumerably for his achievements.
That Just Go With It (2011) is the 11th consecutive Adam Sandler movie to open first at the box office proves, most certainly, that audiences haven’t tired of the funny-man.