There were some good parts, some bad parts and some ugly parts to Grown Ups, but first a synopsis. Grown Ups is the typical summer family comedy that you would expect from Blockbuster season, only this time it’s Adam Sandler and he’s all grown up, or is he? Aside from the fact that he is now a father and husband in Grown Ups, not much has changed from his other ‘Happy Madison’ days. Well, he did drop that stupid lisp he used to use in everything.
Adam Sandler plays Lenny Feder, and he and his childhood friends discover that their basketball coach has passed away and after reuniting for the funeral, the group of them spend the Fourth of July weekend in a cabin, just like the old days, plus all the wives and children.
His childhood friends include a cast straight out of Saturday Night Live and just about every movie he ever made: Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn and Tim Meadows.
I had said there were some good, bad and ugly things about the film, we’ll start with the good. It was funny, first and foremost. Although they were mostly jokes you were embarrassed to be seen enjoying, for the most part, the cast had a good pace and great chemistry, which made the jokes all the more enjoyable. It was under two hours, with a run time of 104 minutes, it doesn’t drag on too long and is just enough to let you forget the stresses of life and just laugh. There is a great family atmosphere with no cursing or inappropriate scenes and no animal deaths for humor, although I thought there would be at one point. I laughed the hardest at Steve Buscemi and David Spade. Buscemi as Wiley was part of the other basketball team when they were kids, which lost the championship to Sandler’s team. First, he was deathly pale and skinny and his first scene was in a water park. He attempts a dangerous trick to impress others and gets hurt. Later, he is seen in a full body cast, with his swimming trunks still on by the way. For some strange reason, his cast has his arms straight into the air, as if to start the YMCA moves. There is no reason anyone would do this except to make ridiculous jokes that worked because Buscemi can easily pull off comedy. Second, David Spade played Marcus, the younger, single guy in Sandler’s group. I’ve often thought that Spade is an underused character and can really make a normal situation terribly funny. I also had a stronger connection to his character, as every one else is married with kids and no longer knows how to “get wasted.” It just reminded me of some of my younger friends wanting an epic night, when I’ll settle for a movie night gladly.
The Bad: It was really obvious that Sandler had the cojones to pull off writing a film to get all of his friends paid for the summer. At least he knows that Schneider can’t fill a theater anymore and decided to make him the butt of most jokes and keep his character name as Rob as well. I went in expecting something closer to last year’s Funny People and ended up with something more like last summer’s Couple’s Retreat. By that I mean Funny People had crude humor as well as a lot of depth to the characters. Where as Couple’s Retreat was only cast off as okay because it was shot in Tahiti and therefore was easy on the eyes. Grown Ups was shot in some nice locations and often gave me thoughts of wanting a vacation or getting excited for the Fourth of July and shooting off fireworks, but it lacked much depth for characters. There was only a minor introduction to the lives of each character before they were all forced into the cabin for the long weekend. There was really no surprises, even in the jokes that were pulled. Yes, they were funny, but very predictable.
The Ugly: I have to say the worst part of the film was the gaping plot holes. There were so many stories brought in and just as quickly dropped, it was obvious that most plots only survived on the joke that got them there in the first place. There was jealousy, hotter than natural daughters from Schneider, and four year old breast feeding. We got some great jokes out of each, after that, they hoped you would forget about the plots that developed. There had to be the dramatic ‘lessons learned’ confrontation in the third act that was cheesy and mostly unneeded. Most of the couples had no issues, yet we still had to have a speech from the granny, even though she was actually Rob’s (Schneider) wife about the struggles of marriage and how great it is. The last obvious “bad” for the film was the fact that is was clear as day that this was a film for the fans of those who grew up watching Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison but now they’re all grown up with their own kids, giving them some nostalgia with a dose of family fun that everyone can enjoy.
Overall, the film is not that bad, or ugly compared to other films this year. I was in a full theater that laughed loudly and walked out smiling as well as myself. If you only love the comedies that Sandler has done and not his more serious stuff, this will be filled with just as many fart jokes but a touch more maturity this time around. For those art house lovers, such as myself, just wait until next year and I’m sure that Sandler will have another Spanglish, Reign Over Me or Punch Drunk Love type of film for us.
I give Grown Ups 3 “breast pumps” out of 5
by Angela Davis