REVIEW: “Grown Ups 2”

GROWN UPS POSTERWhy would I subject myself to the torment of watching “Grown Ups 2”? Am I a glutton for punishment? Did I actually think this would be a watchable film? I mean let’s be honest, Adam Sandler hasn’t made a good movie in years and the first “Grown Ups” picture was a laborious exercise in stupidity. So there’s no reason to think this would be a funny and entertaining comedy, right? Or is there? After all it did rake in nearly $250 million at the box office. Oh who am I fooling? “Grown Ups 2” is yet another painfully bad film that I think goes down as one of Sandler’s worst (and that’s saying something).

Where do I begin when a movie is this terrible? How about with the opening scene which clearly tells you what you are in store for. Sandler wakes up one morning to find a huge deer in his bedroom. He scares the deer causing it to urinate all over his face. This sequence is out of the blue, amateurish, and embarrassingly unfunny. Actually that’s a good way to describe this entire movie. I know Sandler has a following and many people subscribe to this brand of humor, but I would rather have my eyeballs dug out with an ice cream scoop than to sit through this torture again.

There are so many egregious problems with this movie. Let’s start with the biggest issue – it’s not the slightest bit funny. I may be wrong but the object of most comedies is to make the audience laugh. If that is a key measurement of success “Grown Ups 2” fails miserably. I sat stone-faced through the majority of the film’s 100 minutes only slightly grinning on a couple of occasions. The humor is ostensibly juvenile and astoundingly idiotic. Sandler and his co-writing compadres seem to have no idea on how to conceive or setup a gag. Instead they wallow in cheap, lazy, and overused nonsense that have become signatures of Adam Sandler movies. For example take Sandler’s infatuation with toilet humor. We get farting, urinating, projectile vomiting, picking and eating from a belly button. All of this lowbrow garbage that serves as a substitute for actual good writing.

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Another glaring flaw is the complete and utter lack of a plot. I’m still stunned at the absence of any cohesive and coherent story. It’s kind of like a series of poorly conceived comedy sketches pasted together to form a storyline. The problem is nothing ever happens. It’s as if Sandler is more interested in creating a playground for him and his buddies. He tosses in several weird and awkward cameos and small roles from the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Adam Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Taylor Lautner, Dan Patrick, and several more. Perhaps the filmmakers thought that drowning us in these appearances would divert our attention away from the absence of a decent narrative. It didn’t work.

I suppose Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, and Kevin James were trying to make another movie about childhood buddies and their middle-aged lives. Yet it’s interesting that these characters have become more childish and imbecilic in the three years since the first film. But I don’t think anyone involved really cares. There’s no sense of shame whatsoever. With an $80 million budget, this was clearly a cash-in for the whole bunch.

Remember I described the first scene of the movie? Well the final scene features a man passing gas on his wife. Do you get the gist of what “Grown Ups 2” is all about? This film incited more facepalms and head-shakes than laughs and the script feels like something Sandler could have scribbled on the palm of his hand. There isn’t an ounce of creativity, originality, or intelligence and if they weren’t making millions of dollars I would be embarrassed for everyone involved. Instead they are laughing all the way to the bank, and I promise you they were laughing a lot more than I was.

VERDICT – 0.5 STARS

“GROWN UPS” – 1 STAR

I kinda knew what I was getting into when I decided to watch Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups”. Sandler hasn’t put out a good movie in years and his films have become cheap, lazy, and formulaic. As I expected, “Grown Ups” is no different. It’s a tedious and unfunny movie that provides more moans and head-shakes than laughs. It’s a lame and juvenile exercise in banality that again proves that Sandler’s once promising career is on the ropes.

Sandler teams up with Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, and Rob Schneider to play five childhood friends who are reunited after the death of their old junior high basketball coach. After attending the funeral, the five take their families to a lake house for the 4th of July weekend in hopes of catching up. Of course none are completely forthcoming about their lives and instead choose to impress their friends by making things seem better than they really are. Each bring along their own quirky baggage including a nagging mother-in-law, maladjusted children, and a 70-year old wife. Each are played for laughs but none are even remotely funny. Of course families come together, friendships are rekindled, and audiences are bludgeoned to death with one stupid, rehashed gag after another.

Sandler co-wrote and co-produced this mess and he doesn’t seem to know what kind of movie he wants to make here. The movie jumps back-and-forth between family friendly and filthy bathroom comedy with neither being effective. He employs so many of the same cheap and overused gags that have become commonplace in Adam Sandler movies. We get fart jokes. We get urine jokes. We even get lowbrow breast milk jokes. “Grown Ups” pulls out all the stops to try to cover up its appallingly poor writing. You name the gimmick and you’ll probably find it here.

I was also taken back by Sandler’s sometimes shameless uses of the children in the film. In the movie, one boy is 4-years old but still breast feeds. There are several scenes involving breastfeeding with the child present and numerous lines of dialogue that calls for the boy to say all sorts of crude things about it. I’m not trying to say I’m the end-all, be-all when it comes to determining what’s proper for a child or even for what passes as funny. But this really felt wrong and it certainly wasn’t funny. Sandler doesn’t show much more respect for the other child actors but at least they are older and don’t feel quit as exploited.

There is absolutely nothing genuine about “Grown Ups”. The characters feel fake. The relationships feel fake. The attempts at humor certainly feel fake. Even when the movie tries to drum up some emotion and sentiment it feels completely forced and fabricated.  None of the actors really sell their character. Kevin James comes the closest but even he is a mixture of numerous characters we have seen before. Even the wives are shallow and one-dimensional and contribute their fair share of cringe-worthy scenes. The material is so bad that it’s impossible to invest in anyone or believe in anything you’re seeing on-screen.

When it comes down to it “Grown Ups” is yet another sloppy, adolescent “comedy” and another red mark on Adam Sandler’s resume. There’s absolutely nothing to take away from the movie and I could think of a thousand things I would rather do than sit through it again. This begs the question, how on earth did this monstrosity gross over $270 million worldwide? Is this really the best Hollywood can do? Do people really find this stuff funny? Who knows, maybe I’m the one who is out of the loop on this one.