Mark Reviews Movies

GROWN UPS (2010)

1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Dennis Dugan

Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek Pinault, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Joyce Van Patten, Ebony Jo-Ann, Di Quon, Jake Goldberg, Cameron Boyce, Alexys Nycole Sanchez, Colin Quinn

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity)

Running Time: 1:42

Release Date: 6/25/10

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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 24, 2010

It's impossible to pinpoint a central through line for Grown Ups, primarily because there isn't one. The movie is not about a quintet of man-boys recapturing their youthful spirit, because from the time they were kids until the point they gather together again, they haven't changed (and never do over the course of the movie). They pick up right where they left off, ripping into each other with the cruelty and insight of a kid.

It's not about passing on their childhood traditions to their children, even though such things as skipping stones and going to a water park are here, because everyone is too self-centered to take that into account.

What Grown Ups amounts to is nothing more than assembling Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider to make some lame puns, fall down, injure themselves, and watch others get hurt. The five must have had fun making this, because they giggle, chuckle, or guffaw at just about every one-liner any of them tosses out. There aren't exactly rules set in stone for comedy, but someone should break out a chisel for the topic of laughing at your movie's own jokes while the camera's running.

The movie opens with the five-some as children, playing for their grade school basketball championship and telling us everything screenwriters Sandler and Fred Wolf care to expound upon in the area of character development.

Sandler's Lenny is the leader, and as an adult, he works as a Hollywood agent, with a beautiful, fashion designer wife (Salma Hayek Pinault), two bratty, spoiled sons (Jake Goldberg and Cameron Boyce), and a maid/nanny/assistant (Di Quon), who caters to their every need.

James is Eric, the brawns of their team, who now also has a beautiful wife (Maria Bello) and two spoiled kids, one of whom is four and still has to be nursed.

Rock's Kurt was terrible at basketball and is now terrible at cooking. His wife is played by Maya Rudolph, who's pregnant, and his mother-in-law (Ebony Jo-Ann) yells, farts, and is made the butt of many jokes over her bunions.

Spade is Marcus, who winks at cheerleaders as a kid and sleeps with random women now, while Schneider's Rob winks at a mom in the crowd at the game and is now married to the older Gloria (Joyce Van Patten), who is made fun of because she's old.

Their coach has died, bringing them all together for the funeral and a weekend stay at a cabin.

The gags are predictable and executed with blunt force. After watching their kids begin to go outside and play instead of sitting in front of video games all day, the friends decide to play their favorite childhood game of arrow roulette, which entails someone shooting an arrow straight up in the air. Whoever stays in the circle the longest win, but, uh-oh, they can't see the arrow anymore, they all start shouting with a knowing smile on their faces. Time to run. One falls down from a cramp, another trips over a tree stump into a face-full of animal excrement, another runs right into a tree branch, and Rob has the arrow come straight down into his foot.

Eric decides to take a swing on an old rope tied to a tree branch but, whoops, forgets to let go. He hits a tree, and the onlookers make that familiar call of feigned shock, "Oh!" He falls down the side of the hill, and director Dennis Dugan cuts back to the spectators for another round of contrived surprise. On and on it goes.

The rest of the jokes are puns about feet and toes, a couple of farts, peeing in a pool with a chemical that turns the water blue when there's urine, Lenny's wife pelting her son in the chest with a rock, and Steve Buscemi appearing to take a zip-line ride into a pool by use of his feet.

Except for the last one, none of it funny, although the movie's sense of emotional depth—which it actually attempts—is laughable, especially when Lenny's wife's makes a slip of the tongue about the truth of the tooth fairy, because she's on an important phone call. Also dishonest is a truth-telling session, where they all reveal their problems, which are resolved quickly as they were brought up.

It's all the women's fault in the movie's view. They exist in the story to hold their husbands back with their own career ambitions, cause their children to have obnoxious personality problems, serve their every need, accept that everything is indeed their fault, and, of course, be ogled.

Casual misogyny aside, Grown Ups offers nothing more than lowest common denominator humor and a chance for Sandler and his buddies to play at comedy.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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