Reel Shorts | Grown Ups

25 06 2010

This review first appeared in Jet Magazine.com. To read this review at its original source, click here.

Lackluster comedy is mostly an SNL buddy reunion
Five childhood friends relive their glory days with mixed results in the lackluster Saturday Night Live buddy reunion comedy, “Grown Ups.” While the film has few funny moments, this story relies too much on juvenile antics that ultimately undercut its sappy message.

After winning a basketball championship 30 years earlier on a contested last-second shot, life has not been kind for the “fantastic five.” Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is a superstar agent with a beautiful fashion-designer wife, Roxanne (Salma Hayek), and two young boys with entitlement issues. His buddy, Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) has become a house-husband with a penchant for cooking shows that is treated like the woman of the house by his money-earning wife, Deanne (Maya Rudolph) and his bossy live-in mother-in-law.

Unemployed Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) has a hot wife, Sally (Maria Bello) and a pre-kindergarten child who is still literally enjoys his mother’s milk. Perennial immature party animal Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is a borderline alcoholic who would much rather look for a good time than a woman to settle down with. Now on his third marriage and sporting a ridiculous toupee, Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) is trying to reconcile with his three grown daughters and a wife embarrassingly old enough to be his mother.

When their coach dies, the friends assemble “Big Chill” style at a lake house over the Independence Day holiday to honor his memory and commiserate about the mess that their adult lives have become. Together again after all of the years, the friends quickly revert to their youthful form, producing moments that range from laugh-out loud funny to head-scratching peculiar. Full of inside jokes (James’ painful pratfall in the woods, Spade walking around literally butt-naked, urination jokes and a dangerous game of “arrow roulette”) that are clearly funny to Sandler and his crew, many of the routines ultimately add nothing to the story.

In addition, the ensemble comedy directed by Dennis Dugan wastes the talents of Rock, whose character is almost an afterthought when onscreen with his less-funny pals. Sandler’s script features belligerent kids, emasculated men and tasteless characterizations of the elderly all for supposed laughs. He even features a secondary subplot that spotlights a couple of other SNL alums, Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn in a syrupy lesson about “doing the right thing.”

Written by Sandler and Fred Wolf, the film is the first time that Sandler has appeared on film with all of his former cast mates (James steps in for the deceased Chris Farley). “Grown Ups” many times feels like an intimate peek at the sketch comedy mayhem that these close friends enjoyed during their heydays at SNL. Following an earlier SNL summer stink bomb, “MacGruber,” one wonders why the humor that works so well on the small screen fails to translate to the big screen.

Funny as an arrow through the foot, ironically, “Grown Ups,” with its collection of wise-cracking comedians, never reaches the humorous heights handled superbly by the animated classic, “Toy Story 3.” While the concept of smart comedy continues to be an oxymoron in Hollywood, Sandler’s piss-poor excuse to work with his friends may fancy itself as full grown but at its core, the film shows it that has a long way to go to maturity.

Grade: D+

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One response

9 07 2010
ianthecool

Well said. I agree completely. Sandler hasn’t grown out of his immature humour, but at this point we really expect that he should have.

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