Movie Review: Grown Ups
Austin360.com | Austin American-Statesman
God bless anyone unlucky enough to be one of Adam Sandler's friends.
The actor can be endearing onscreen. When the stars align, he's even brilliant. But if the Sandler-cowritten screenplay for "Grown Ups" offers a peek into his ideal of male camaraderie (and the presence of longtime Sandler cohorts suggests it does), then the comedian's posse is a nasty, witless clique closely resembling the junior-high locker rooms most adolescents can't wait to escape.
The movie depicts the reunion of five childhood friends whose old basketball coach has just died.
As befits a funeral's solemn mood, the fellas greet each other with immediate insults - the dialogue crudely establishing each character, and each one's cringe-worthy wife, as either a broad stereotype (Chris Rock, the emasculated house-husband) or a freak (Rob Schneider, the pompadour-wearing wuss with a fetish for grandmothers).
The pummeling, ceaseless stream of nastiness continues long after the action has moved from the funeral to the lake house Sandler ("the biggest agent in Hollywood," the script kindly explains) has rented for everyone to share over the July Fourth weekend. It's as if Don Rickles had written the script, then had an intern go through it to edit out the nice parts.
And, for that matter, the wit. With the exception of a left-field zinger referencing Idi Amin, most of the film's put-downs would sound stale even back in the locker room. Making matters worse, director Dennis Dugan keeps panning around to show all the characters laughing at each line - every mirthless chuckle a desperate attempt to prompt some laughter out in the audience.
Like a middle-age man halfway through his second bucket of KFC, the banter finally gets sluggish about an hour into the film. The break allows Sandler to give his characters a moment or two of ostensibly heartfelt connection.
But the movie quickly finds its second wind, and its script is even more annoying once it's trying to teach us life lessons. Its title is obviously intended to be ironic. But even so, the model of adulthood offered in "Grown Ups" is a sad, underdeveloped thing indeed.