June 27, 2010

Movie Review: Grown Ups

grownups1_largeOn paper, this looks like a movie that should be a lot of fun and that even factors int he presence of the comedic void known as Rob Schneider. It is a film littered with comedy stars of the 1990s (with the exception of Kevin James, whom I like but seems to be filling Chris Farley's spot). I approached this movie with the hopes of a good time. The trailer looked like fun and with the names involved I really had no reason not to expect a few laughs. What I was not expecting was anything great or even all that memorable. It turns out I was right on one count, that it is a forgettable experience.



As I walked down the theater's long hallways after the movie, I wondered just exactly the purpose was for this movie. It offered no insights into the nature of long lasting friendship or balancing family and friends, or even about correcting the mistakes of the past for the children of the future. Granted, I never really expected anything nearly so lofty in the first place. I wondered where the laughs were. Aside from a couple of chuckles I did not find this to be all that funny. Much of the humor was mean spirited, humorless, and ultimately took us nowhere.

Seriously, Grown Ups feels like it was made by a bunch of stars, many of who have not box office success of late, got together to hang out. they decided to take a vacation, took some cameras along and decided to film it, see if they could turn it into a quick buck. I am probably wrong, but that is how it feels. This is  meandering movie that is devoid of plot, purpose, and character.


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The setup shows five kids winning a youth basketball championship and celebrating the win at a lake house. Fast forward thirty-years, the boys are all grown up and scattered to the winds. Their beloved coach has died, so the five, with families in tow, attend the funeral and then spend the weekend at the same house they celebrated their win so many years before.

Once the gang is together, including Adam Sandler, wife Salma Hayek, their three kids, Kevin James, wife Maria Bello, their two kids, Chris Rock, wife Maya Rudolph, mother-in-law, and two kids, Rob Schneider, wife Joyce van Patten, Davide Spade, and the other of Sandler's cast of pals like Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, Dan Patrick, among others, there is scarcely any room to build up any sort of plot.

Sandler is the central character, apparently a big time Hollywood agent who is embarrassed of having a nanny, embarrassed by his spoiled bratty children, and always seems to want to be the nice guy. Here he is incessantly the "nice guy" left to react to what is going on around him, while never being all that interesting. The on conflict he has with is wife is resolved in a manner of minutes. Kevin James is left with fat jokes and a son who is 4 and still breast feeds. Chris Rock is a stay at home dad and is made fun of for his stereotypical female role. Rob Schneider has is short and new agey and has a wife in her 70's. Finally David Spade is the single guy still chasing the ladies, which comes into play later on.


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The women get stuck with even less to do. Salma Hayek plays the clothing designer snob who doesn't want to be around the common folk. Maria Bello, who I failed to recognize at first, is left to spray breast milk around while May Rudolph makes fun of her husband while patting her pregnant belly. Not to be outdone is Ebony Jo-Anne as Rudolph's mother who comes complete with farts, bunions, and attitude that push her perilously close to being an offensive stereotype. Also, let us not forget the ladies who show up later on as Schneider's supermodel daughters.

Yes, there are a couple of minor chuckles to be had, but when it ends it is terribly inconsequential. I kept waiting for a story to emerge from the laid back vacationing that was going on. The climax turns out to be a basketball game thrown by Sandler in a great moment of hubris meant to be a moralistic victory. I guess we are meant to believe that if you win as a child you will continue to win and if you lose you will continue to lose, unless said winner shows up to allow you a moment of victory. Gee, thanks. That goes down real nice.

Bottomline. This does not live up to the talents of the cast. The movie is just not funny, has no story, and no characters. The takeaway lesson is not one worth learning. These guys are better than this, there is no doubt about it. Hopefully they will have gotten the vacation bug out of their systems and can get back to work.

Not Recommended.


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