Grown Ups (2010)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

            

Starring:  Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Joyce Van Patten, Ebony-Jo Ann, Di Quon, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Madison Riley, Jamie Chung, Ashley Loren, Blake Clark.
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Director:  Dennis Dugan
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 102 Mins.
Release Date:  June 25, 2010
DVD Release Date: TBD
Box Office: $TBD
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Happy Madison Productions, Relativity Media and Columbia Pictures.

Written By:  Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf.

“What was your favorite thing to do when you were 12?” – Roxanne (Salma Hayek)I will readily admit that I have shared many a heartfelt laugh over the years watching the comedic exploits of the five stars of “Grown Ups”.  Through their beginnings on Saturday Night Live, stand up routines, television series, or their previous films, the names Sandler, Rock, James, Spade, and Schneider (yes, even Schneider)have provided many quotable, laugh out loud moments for me and my friends and family as well.  So it pains me somewhat to report that even though I had tempered down my expectations for “Grown Ups”, the film is a large disappointment and it may simply be time for Adam Sandler to try something different.The plot begins in 1978 with some pretty remarkable child lookalikes playing the lead characters.  The five friends apparently comprised the starting lineup of the only local community basketball team to win a championship.  During an extravagant celebratory dinner for the five players and their families, beloved Coach Buzzer (Blake Clark) gives an inspirational speech that stays with the players their whole lives.

Moving ahead 30 years, we find Lenny (Adam Sandler) is now a mega-rich Hollywood agent, with three kids, a nanny he likes but is ashamed of having, and a gorgeous, fashion designer wife (Salma Hayek).  Eric (Kevin James) is a hard-working, devoted husband with two kids and a wife (Maria Bello) who still breastfeeds their youngest child – now age 4.  Domesticated Marcus (Chris Rock) takes care of the house while his wife (Maya Rudolph) works long hours.  He is essentially a “househusband”, not only assuming homemaker duties but also dealing with his cranky and uncouth mother-in-law.  Rounding out the cast, Rob (Rob Schneider) is happily married to Gloria (Joyce Van Patten), 30 years his senior, and together they share a New-Age and organic lifestyle.  David Spade’s Marcus is the only single member of the group, who is naturally irresponsible, carefree and has never (ahem) grown up from his younger days.

When the news of Coach Buzzer’s death brings the five friends and their families together again, Lenny has rented out the lakehouse for the weekend and everyone gets together to relive old memories and catch up on life in the years which have gone by.  Add in the fact that the opposing basketball team happens to still live in the community and the stage is set for wacky hijinks, slapstick adventures, and the time honored tradition of comedic redemption.

And those hijinks, adventures, and redemptive moments could not be more flat, unfunny, or boring.

The potential of a movie like this certainly wets the appetite for those who love comedy.  All of these actors have been great on screen in the past and it is readily apparent that everyone associated with “Grown Ups” had a blast making the film.  Sadly, the potential of sharing in that fun is one we observe and never take part in.  Watching “Grown Ups” is similar to being invited to a friend-of-a-friend’s big summer party, having that friend bail on you and leave you alone, having no one to really interact with, and forcing you to sit alone, listening and laughing at stories you have absolutely no connection to.  When faced with those moments, don’t we all wish we were somewhere else?  Yeah, me too.

Certainly, it is easy to point the blame for the film’s failures at the sophomoric and underwhelming script by Sandler and his long-time collaborator, Fred Wolf.  Sandler’s productions, those branded with his Happy Madison Productions name, are largely hit and miss efforts; films which go for the cheap and easy rather than the considered and thought out approach of comedy.  Are there amusing moments here?  Absolutely.  That this film, with that cast and this premise, only attains a mediocrity of amusing moments, renders the whole effort rather pointless.

Dennis Dugan’s direction and the shoddy editing by Tom Costain is just too distracting this time around.  Scenes end abruptly, at odd times, with no cohesiveness whatsoever.  Attempts at anything heartfelt seems like a placemarker for the next goofy circumstance to come down the pike and serves to be disingenuous at best.  Then again, watching anything from the outside looking in, leaves you ultimately indifferent and disengaged…and bored…and again, wishing you were somewhere else.

While I wholeheartedly believe Salma Hayek when she states that making “Grown Ups” was the most fun she has ever had on a movie set, I cannot say that I enjoyed watching her or the others having all that fun.  Because sadly, no matter how much slack you give “Grown Ups” or how much you try to stay with it, you eventually get left behind, left out, and shunned to the outside.

Should I See It?

YES

Fans of all the big name stars will be wanting to see this and the excitement is understandable.

At times, the movie retains a certain charm in seeing these five friends improvise and riff with one another in scenes largely unscripted.

I would imagine that a large number of the people who love Adam Sandler’s goofier Happy Madison productions will find this movie irresistible at times.

Although it misfired with me, this is pure shut your mind off escapist comedy.

NO

The few genuine laughs are in the beginning and after watching the trailer, this would be a “Best Moments Are In The Trailer” kinda movie.

The jokes have all been done before and there are too many characters involved which render the flimsy premise almost transparent in its finality.

Technically, the film is edited and shot so poorly, those lingering shots of Fruity Pebbles and KFC buckets (both crispy and grilled no less!), amongst other things, make you wonder if product placement is more important to Sandler than telling a story.