Just Go With It – Movie Review

Just Go With It – Movie Review

Review by Stacey Tuttle

Did you know that there are six things which the Lord hates?  Actually the Bible says there are seven that are an “abomination” to Him.  Ouch!  Here is the list:

Proverbs 6:16-19

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
   seven that are detestable to him:
    17 haughty eyes,
      a lying tongue,
      hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
      feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    19 a false witness who pours out lies
      and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Two out of the list of seven have to do with a lack of honesty/truthfulness.  That’s 29% of the list.  Another item has to do with devising wicked schemes.  I am guessing, based on the fact that forms of lying appear twice on the list, that a scheme to deceive someone and/or lie to them (if there is a difference) would fall under the title of “wicked schemes.” 

What does this have to do with Just Go With It?  In a nutshell, the movie is about a plastic surgeon who discovers that women are much quicker to sleep with a married man than a single man.  Danny therefore masters[1] the poor, pathetic husband act.  He wears a wedding ring when he’s on the prowl and tells elaborate lies about his heartless, abusive wife and all her addictions and so on.  He further endears these gullible bar beauties to himself with tales of how he just can’t leave because of how much he just loves all their foster children.  His lies are calculated, elaborate and endless.

So, if we go back to the list of things God hates, I think we can safely say that Danny just knocked off (in a bad way) three of the seven things God hates.  That’s 43%, almost half, in case you think three out of seven doesn’t sound like such a big deal. 

And yet, I did it too.  I found myself sympathizing with him because I saw how it started.  He didn’t begin that way.  He was actually at one point a kind-hearted, honest guy who wanted true love, marriage and a family.  Unfortunately, he found out on the day of his wedding that his bride-to-be didn’t want those same things.  She wanted a wealthy man that she could control…and he was it. 

As he sat in a bar, soaking in the humiliation of all he had just overheard his fiancé confess, and contemplating the near miss of what would have been an awful marriage, a beautiful woman saw his wedding ring and assumed he was “safe”—a committed husband who wasn’t going to come on to her like the other single men had.  They started talking and the lies just started pouring out…and the result?  Her “sympathy” was extended in the form of sex.   How convenient.  This is how it all started.  He didn’t have to proposition women or risk rejection again.  He just let them come to him, the “safe” married man.

We would probably feel sorry enough for him if that is all we knew—his fiancé had been truly cruel. But we also have the benefit of seeing him through his assistant’s eyes.  Katherine (Jennifer Anniston) is a single mom who has worked for him for ages.  She knows all about his schemes but she also has seen his kindness and his goodness.  She believes he’s a “good guy” deep down and helps us to believe the same. 

Conveniently though, we don’t see the reactions of all the girls he has lied to.  We don’t hear about how they feel when he disappears the next morning and leaves only a note on their pillow.  We might not think as generously of his lies if we were more aware of their repercussions.  (However, there is a part of me that thinks that if a girl sleeps with a married man, at least who she believes to be married, then shame on her.  And if she gets hurt in the process, then that’s her bad.) 

But frankly, that is beside the point.  The point isn’t whether or not he hurt anyone with his lies. The point is what God thinks about his lies and his schemes.  And according to Proverbs 6, I think it’s safe to say God hates that kind of behavior.  Hates it. 

Do we understand that?  Do we get it at all that for God to hate something isn’t a good thing? 

I think in the past of Christian culture we generally saw things in very black and white terms.  Things were right or wrong.  But then, so much of life just doesn’t fit into those two categories very well.  It’s complicated.  Things can be very much grey.  So, in response to those ill-fitting categories, the temptation is to go to the other extreme and get rid of them altogether.  Since not all things are black and white, nothing is black and white. 

 Is it possible that where we were once too rigid, we are now too understanding?

We ought to love the things God loves and hate the things he hates.  And yet, I don’t get the sense that we do—at least not fully.  I mean, that’s not to say we don’t have a sense of pleasure in the right things nor of distaste for the wrong things, the things he hates.  I think we have that.  But have we become so understanding, so compassionate, so aware of the grey, complicated issues that we find it hard to call a sin a sin?  Is it hard for us to look at Danny and say that what he’s doing is wrong because we are so sympathetic to the motivations and causes behind it?

You may want to argue that Danny is a good guy.  Certainly, Katherine makes that argument (or excuse) for him in the movie.  But perhaps our idea of good and kind need a little tweak here. 

Danny’s actions are ultimately entirely based out of self-preservation and frankly, weakness.  He doesn’t want to be hurt again, so he lies.  He wants sex, so he lies.  He finally finds a girl he really likes (Brooklyn Decker’s character, Palmer), but doesn’t have the courage to tell her why he has a wedding ring in his pocket—that he uses it to seduce women and get sex without strings attached—so he lies. 

In order to keep up the lies he told to Palmer (because he likes her and wants to keep this thing going) he gets Katherine to lie and pretend to be his soon-to-be-ex-wife.  And then, Katherine’s two children also get pulled into it as they too lie and pretend to be his children. 

Where is the kindness in this?  What about this is good, I ask you?  Danny wasn’t doing this for anyone’s good but his own.  He didn’t care how it might be teaching the children bad lessons, or affecting his assistant/best friend.  Even when they ask him to stop he just begs them to keep on, because it would be inconvenient, awkward and potentially damaging (to him) for Palmer to learn the truth. 

Not only is this not showing goodness toward Katherine and her children, but what about Palmer?  He says he loves her, but it’s not a real sort of love.  Real love seeks to be loved in truth.  He can’t be loved in truth for there is no truth in his relationship with Palmer.   And she is falling in love with him, so much so that she agrees to marry him.  If he loved her at all, or if he had any true good will toward her, or even brotherly affection toward her, you would expect him to want what was best for her…and that would not include being lied to by the one she loved. 

It’s so easy to feel such repulsion to Danny’s hideous fiancé in the beginning of the film.  But why should we feel any different toward her than we do toward Danny?  Are they really so different?  Didn’t they both lie to their girlfriend/boyfriend?

Let me just suggest that a truly good man puts others before himself.  He does what is best, not just for himself, but for others.  In fact, he will sacrifice what is most convenient for himself when it interferes with what is best for another[2].  Additionally, a truly good man has courage—especially the courage to tell the truth.

You may or may not think that Danny is a good guy, after all.  But the reality is he is doing really bad things.  Whether or not the consequences are bad, they, the actions themselves, are bad, because God says they are bad.  And while we think it’s all about the heart, the effort and the intent, sometimes all of that can’t make up for doing something that is bad.  Sometimes not meaning to do bad[3] can’t erase the fact that you did do bad.[4] 

I ask you this.  If Katherine (whom he ends up with in the end) was your friend, and you knew Danny and his schemes, could you honestly encourage her to date and marry this guy?  In real life? I mean, I know that the movie says she was the one person he had never lied to, but still, would you really think that he could be trusted in the future to always tell her the truth?  He does, after all have a habit of lying whenever it is convenient for him.  Do we really not think that a time would come in their relationship when it would become convenient for him to lie?  Or are we supposed to believe that their relationship is going to be so extraordinary that he will never have any reason or situation in which lying would again prove expedient?  Personally, I doubt it.

“But,” you say, “this is a movie, it’s not real life.”  I realize that.  But I also fear that what we get comfortable with, what we accept, what we make allowances for in fantasy is simply a precursor for how we will respond in reality.  We begin to accept a lying man on screen, and before long we accept a lying man in real life, or in ourselves. 

If we really have the heart of God, then shouldn’t we feel the same about lies whether they are on-screen or in reality?

I think it’s hard for us to do that because we feel like if we hate his lies, we have to hate him.  But part of loving what God loves and hating what he hates means we have to love the person—because God LOVES people—and still hate the sin.  It’s such a hard distinction to navigate.  I find that I love the person so much I make allowances for the sin and think it’s no big deal.  Or, if I’m being honest, I have to admit that sometimes I find that I so associate the sin with the person that I detest both.

“But don’t people change?” you ask me.  Yes, they can and they do.  But the Bible calls for repentance when you recognize your sin.  Danny seems to me to be a weak man who follows the path of least resistance.  He lies because it is convenient and because he is a coward.  In the end, he falls for Katherine, who, conveniently he has never lied to.  That is great.  A relationship should be built on truthfulness. 

However, what concerns me is that we never see any repentance.  He doesn’t suddenly realize his lies have been wrong, he only realizes they are no longer convenient

The movie makers seem as driven by convenience as Danny is—they conveniently leave out Danny’s interaction with Palmer when he calls off the wedding.  Does he tell the truth or does he just weasel out of it and say he and his “wife” (as Katherine has pretended to be) are going to work things out after all?  I lean toward the latter.  Either way, viewers don’t see Palmer’s pain as her marriage is broken off the day of.  In fact, the movie makers make it even more palatable with three key little scenes.  Right before the wedding, she admits to Katherine she feels that Katherine is probably better for Danny than she is.  So, of course, she wasn’t hurt to find they were going to get back together, right?  That is what we are supposed to assume.  During what was to be her wedding, we are told she is eating ice cream with the kids, significantly not off crying or calling home, etc.  And, to make sure we don’t feel sorry for Palmer, or feel bad about any pain she might be feeling after being jilted at the altar, we see a pain-free Palmer on the flight back home flirting with, who we are to assume, is her Mr. Right, or at least her next Mr. Right Now.  

I love movies where the characters grow.  It helps us, as an audience grow with them.  But I’m not sure that Just Go With It has any real character growth.  It seems to me the right path just becomes the easier and more attractive path.  Palmer gets a younger, more attractive love interest.  Katherine gets a husband, her kids get a father.  Danny finds a love that truly loves and respects him.  Every one wins without ever having to grow or change.  I sound like a broken record, but again, I have to say it’s very convenient.

People do change.  But they don’t fix what’s not broken, or what they don’t realize is broken.  Change requires that a person recognize that something is wrong or broken in the first place.  And then change is hard.  It’s inconvenient; it’s humbling; and it’s work.  

I don’t think we see any evidence of this in Danny.  I grant you, he may stop lying for a little while, because lying isn’t expedient at the moment.  He doesn’t need to lie, at least right now, with Katherine.  But Danny’s lies were always just a matter of convenience.  Viewers are given no evidence that Danny’s tendencies toward cowardice and convenience have changed.  We don’t see brokenness, confession, or humility.  He simply shifts to a better suited relationship which is frankly a whole lot easier at the moment since it doesn’t require such complicated scheming.

We don’t see him contrite and sincere before Palmer, apologizing for his lies and deception, confessing that she is a wonderful person who deserves better.  Neither do we see him broken before Katherine, realizing how wrong he’s been, how he’s used her and her children for his own selfish ends and promising to change.  We are simply supposed to believe in his goodness and in the power of love to keep him honest.  In this case I think we’d be better off to realize the power of convenience.

I know, those of you who loved this movie will think I’m just “hating” on it.  Well, I am and I’m not.  To be honest, I kind of enjoyed the ride—at least, the main characters were endearing[5].  But this is the very thing which I liked the least about it—its very likeability.   As I search to have a heart like God’s I am concerned about things which I know are opposed to the heart and ideals of God but which nonetheless appeal to me in some way or another.  I am concerned about the fact that we are willing to make such allowances for Danny’s reprehensible behavior (and frankly, Katherine’s too).  I am concerned about the fact that we, that I, kind of like this movie.  Shouldn’t it break my heart?  Shouldn’t it make me angry to see a man treating women this way?  (And I’m not just talking about the lies and sex, but also about how he used even his best friend—there is not one woman in the movie whom he treated as he ought.)   Shouldn’t I discover that I hate the lies, rather than discovering that I find the lies funny?  The movie’s very likeability is the single most dangerous thing about it. 

I was about to say that I don’t want to be “hating” on anything.  But that’s not entirely true.  There are things that God hates, and if I want to have a heart like His, then I do want to hate.  I want to hate the right things. 

As God would have it, I read Psalm 101 the day after I watched the movie.  Read this, and I ask you think honestly, prayerfully, about what it has to say, especially in light of Just Go With It. 

Psalm 101—Of David. A psalm.

1 I will sing of your love and justice;
   to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
   when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
   with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
   on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
   I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
   I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
   I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
   I will not tolerate.

6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
   that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
   will minister to me.

7 No one who practices deceit
   will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
   will stand in my presence.

8 Every morning I will put to silence
   all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
   from the city of the LORD.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What would you think if your friend or your sister was dating Danny?  Would you respond to that in reality any differently than you did in the movie?
  • Did you know that there is a list of things God hates in the Bible?  Does that surprise you?  Do the contents of the list surprise you?
  • Do you think your heart loves what God loves and hates what God hates?  What comes easier for you, the loving or the hating?
  • How much do you think actions themselves matter?  Or do you think all that matters is what a person meant, their effort and their intention?
  • What do you think about Psalm 101?  Which parts do you find most convicting?  How do you think it applies to the movie, Just Go With It?
  • Is there sin in your life that you need to confess and repent of?


[1] Actually, I say “masters” loosely.  His lies are usually ridiculous and completely unbelievable.  The fact that women seem to buy it in the movie can be attributed to one of three things, as I see it:  1. Pure comedic silliness; 2. An insulting perception/statement about women’s intelligence or gullibility; or 3. Sad testament that the writers feel women choose to believe whatever is convenient.

[2] We need look no further than Jesus for example and proof of this.

[3] Which in this case you have to admit, he clearly meant to do it, whether or not he meant it to be bad.

[4] Ugh – can I get off on a little tangent here???  I think it SO important that children in school aren’t just encouraged.  No matter how hard they tried on that math problem, 2+2 isn’t 5.  It’s 4.  And the sooner kids learn that good effort doesn’t make up for wrong answers the more they are prepared for this lesson on greater issues in life – like the ones we are talking about here…in Just Go With It.  There is a standard.  There is a right and wrong.  And you can mess up and recover from it, but you can only improve when you recognize that there is a standard to adhere to.  OK – sorry for the soap box.  Can you imagine what a favorite I was with my education department when I was in college??? 

[5] I should admit though, I found the beginning terribly uncomfortable and I didn’t like Eddie–when he wasn’t being vulgar he was being stupid, each as unpleasant as the last.