Review: Grown Ups
PLOT: Five childhood friends (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade) reunite for the fourth of July weekend, after their beloved high school basketball coach passes away. With their wives (Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph), and kids in tow, the four try to reignite their friendship, and bond with their families.
REVIEW: THE BIG CHILL this is not. Despite the fact that GROWN UPS reunites Sandler, and four of his most frequent co-stars/pals, any fun that was had on the set is lacking in this tired, overly saccharine comedy that will only please the most die-hard Sandler fans. Oh, yeah, and thirteen year old boys. They should like this too.
My problem with all of Sandler's recent films (excluding FUNNY PEOPLE, SPANGLISH, and REIGN OVER ME, all of which had their problems, but featured excellent performances by Sandler), is that he no longer seems to be trying. Their was a time that Sandler was a truly great comedy star. BILLY MADISON and HAPPY GILMORE are fantastic comedies and THE WEDDING SINGER remains Sandler's most successful film to blend the comedy with a bit of sweetness. Then THE WATERBOY came out, and it's all been downhill from there.
I might have lost a few readers right there, as despite my not caring for it, THE WATERBOY was a smash, as have been most of his other films since then. Odds are, GROWN UPS will be a hit too, but I just find Sandler's doing the same old shtick, and like most of his other recent comedies, this goes way too far in the family values department. More than anything, it displays Sandler's old school, family first conservative values- which is all well and good I suppose. However, he goes a little overboard in this department, with the Chris Rock character being ridiculed repeatedly for being a stay at home father, or Rob Schneider being a complete mess because, GASP, he's been divorced a few times. And pity poor David Spade, who's never been able to settle down and have kids, and thus must be a sad little man. Boo-hoo.
Of course, all these problems aren't anything that can't be solved by a little outdoor fun at a lakeside cottage, right? Heck, one day in the sun is enough to transform Sandler's career obsessed wife (Hayek), into an obedient, highly sexed wifey, and all around perfect mom, so all good, right?
I know, I know...I'm reading too far into this, and maybe I've gone a tad overboard in my comparisons. I truly believe Sandler's heart is in the right place with these films and I have no doubt that in real life he probably makes a great family man. However, on-screen he's gotten boring!!! Also, what's the deal with all of his smoking hot love interests? In the last few years, the forty four year old Sandler has romanced Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Emmanuel Chiriqi, and now Salma Hayek. Lucky guy. Second billed Kevin James has to settle for Maria Bello who's also unbelievably hot, but would probably make a more convincing love interest for Sandler. That said, Hayek is still drop dead gorgeous, and looks exactly the same as she did fifteen years ago in DESPERADO. Alas, the cleavage is kept to a sad minimum.
Along with Sandler, the rest of the guys pretty much phone it in. Rock's yet to have a good film vehicle, and once again he gets nothing to work with. James is James, meaning lots of fat guy/food jokes, while Schneider plays the weird, pathetic one, with the subplot about his septuagenarian wife getting old, fast (I could also do without all of Rock's mother-in-law farting jokes, of which their are at least two dozen). Spade gets all the best lines, although he take a backseat to Sandler and James who get most of the screen time. Meanwhile, a bunch of Sandler's other SNL cronies, including Colin Quinn and Tim Meadows pop up (no Norm McDonald though), as does Steve Buscemi is a quick bit.
One thing that's funny about GROWN UPS (unintentionally), is the way it was shot- in that it goes for a lot of soft focus photography, which makes our stars look a good five years younger than they actually are. Alas, while Sandler's gotten older, along with his audience, his films have stayed exactly the same. Whether GROWN UPS is right for you depends on whether or not you still like his routine comedies. If the answer is no, stay away. However, if you love everything he does, or though PAUL BLART: MALL COP was a stitch, this is the film for you!