It was Hollywood in the tropics last spring when not one but two movie comedies were filming simultaneously on location around Maui.
That was coincidental enough. But what were the odds that each film would have a key scene involving unnatural acts with a fake, furry, four-legged animal?
In "Get a Job" - the low-budget, entirely locally made romp that lit up Wailuku recently with screenings at the Historic Iao Theater -it was goat wrestling. In "Just Go With It" -the glossy Hollywood production starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston - it's adminstering CPR to a sheep.
Coconut bra jokes and drinks with umbrellas in them we expect. But cloven-hoof humor as an integral part of island life - who knew?
Granted, the sheep incident is a small blip in the plot that casts Sandler as a successful Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who cajoles his office assistant (Aniston) into pretending to be his soon-to-be divorced wife to help him win the heart of the new young object of his affection (Brooklyn Decker).
It's nearly impossible to suspend belief long enough to summarize the plot, much less, explain it. It was probably easier in the original 1969 version called "Cactus Flower," which won an Oscar for Goldie Hawn and starred Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman as the grown-ups.
Certain truths are self-evident: Midlife happens. In this case, to doctors (well, Matthau was a dentist), causing them to forget their medical training, much less common sense, and think a gorgeous woman half their age is the ticket to happy ever after. And not to notice certain other truths. Like how great Jennifer Aniston looks in a bikini. Or, for that matter in glasses, running your office, or your life.
The new wrinkles this time are that Aniston's character has kids. And that Sandler -who keeps his streak alive for opening movies at the No. 1 spot at the box office - likes to film in Hawaii.
Which is what brought the gigantic Columbia Pictures crew -not to mention co-stars including Nicole Kidman, Nick Swardson and Dave Matthews, and director Dennis Dugan -to the Grand Wailea last April, picking up 500 local extras along the way.
The whole experience put tens of millions of dollars into local coffers, and generated starstruck memories galore for those hundred of extras who got their 15 seconds brushing shoulders - well, staring across a crowded luau scene, at least - at Adam, Jennifer or Nicole. They're nice people, I hear.
And all those gorgeous aerial shots of the Grand Wailea, pools and all, must be looking awfully good to most of the frigid Mainland right about now.
That's the good news.
But wait, there's more. No one is more adorable doing that flinty eyed, quick-witted, good-sport thing than Aniston. The paparazzi who dogged her like hunters chasing a dove during the Maui filming did nothing to diminish her spark on screen.
And Sandler, too, is good at doing what he does -essentially treating life as one big prop for stand-up comedy. I never understood why critics are so willing to forgive guys like Jim Carrey or Ben Stiller for their moments of petulance, but never cut Adam any slack. I'm happy to, myself.
So despite early critical lambasts, I went into "Just Go With It" looking forward to liking it.
Too bad I didn't come out feeling that way.
It's not as though there aren't funny moments -most of them early in the film, involving plastic surgery gone horribly, and hysterically, awry. But everything is so predictable, the set-ups so contrived, you can provide your own drum rolls for the punch lines.
Like Jennifer's son who wants to swim with the dolphins but can't swim. You know where that's headed, even before he puts on the water wings.
Ironically, it was the same impulse that made me forgive the various shortcomings of "Get a Job" that worked in reverse on "Just Go With It."
"Get a Job" was telling our story, at least funny little bits of it. "Just Go With It" wasn't bothering to. Like "Hawaii Five-0," like Daniel Ho and Tia Carrera winning the Hawaiian Music Grammy, it's perfectly happy to perpetrate Los Angeles' version of what Hawaii is all about.
In "Just Go With It," Hawaii is the place to go and drink enough mai-tais not to worry about what a fool you make of yourself in the luau hula show. What's really great is you can buy all your favorite Rodeo Drive brands right in the resort gift shop.
We've long been in the business of selling fantasies here, although it sometimes gets tiring, feeling like you're the one wearing the grass skirt as the little cart goes by in the Small World ride at Disneyland.
The name of the fantasy is Hawaii. That's the name of the place we live, too. Other than the name, they don't have much in common.
* Contact Rick Chatenever at firstname.lastname@example.org.