Review: Grown Ups 2
PLOT: In the years since the events of the first GROWN UPS, Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) has moved his family back to the small town where he grew up, where he lives close to his pals Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Higgy (David Spade). With his kids enjoying their last day of school, the fellas try to recapture the glory of their youth, and wind up tangling with bullies both old and new.
REVIEW: Want a shock? GROWN UPS 2 is actually a smidge better than the first GROWN UPS, and much better than Sandler last few vehicles, JACK & JILL, JUST GO WITH IT, and THAT'S MY BOY. However, that's not to say it's still not a pretty bad movie. It's just that in the pantheon of Sandler comedies, this is is slightly less painful to sit through than his last couple of movies.
That said, GROWN UPS 2 rarely, if ever, actually comes close to being a decent flick. If anything, it has even less of a story than the first film, being little more than a series of dopey gags connected by the very thin plot of this being the last day of school for Sandler, James, and Rock's brood. GROWN UPS 2 is pretty much just Sandler and his pals goofing around for ninety minutes, which of course we're all supposed to flock to in droves.
Many have wondered why Sandler's movies have suddenly gone into the toilet, and my theory is simply that Sandler's audience has grown up, but the films have not. At least this time, the saccharine goop of the first film has been kept to a minimum, with less of an attempt being made to warm the heart (barf) than simply to make people laugh. Still, I can't say I spent a lot of time laughing, and this is speaking as someone who grew up on a steady diet of his movies, and enjoyed them for what they were (the last time I kind of liked one of his movies was probably YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN, but I've enjoyed his non-Happy Madison films like FUNNY PEOPLE and REIGN OVER ME).
Everyone from the first film is back, with the exception of Rob Schneider, who's been dropped for some reason. I doubt that many of them spent a heck of a lot of time on the set, with Chris Rock in particular not being given much to do. The wives are even less of a presence here than they were in the first film, with only Salma Hayek (who, of course, still looks incredible) getting any significant screen-time. Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph have little more than (slightly) extended cameos.
Now, when I wrote GROWN UPS 2 was better than Sandler' last few movies, you shouldn't take that to mean that it has a lot of laughs. All of the jokes are pretty lame, from the first scene where a CGI deer pees on Sandler, to Kevin James' fart-burps, to many painfully unfunny gags involving Nick Swardson's drug-addled bus driver. The big conflict here resolves around Sandler and his pals dealing simultaneously with their scary childhood bully (Stone Cold Steve Austin) and a bunch of cartoonish frat boys (led by Taylor Lautner- who has little to do- and Milo Ventimiglia, who's probably the only one in the film who comes relatively close to being funny).
But again, at least the schmaltz is mostly toned down and Sandler's big eighties-themed bash at the end of the movie means the soundtrack is peppered with lots of great tunes (there's no party music like eighties party music). So while GROWN UPS 2 is still a bad film, and definitely not a return to form for Sandler, at least it wasn't as excruciating as his last few movies. It's pretty sad that Sandler's sunk so far that a movie being merely bad is somehow a success.
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