Grown Ups

Directed By: Dennis Dugan

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph

Adam Sandler's career is one big mystery to me.  How does a guy who makes consistently awful movies continue to flourish as a box office champ?  I just don't understand why people still go to see his movies.  It's a true mystery to me.  That being said, an even greater mystery to me is why other stars sign up to join him in his shenanigans on the big screen.  Studios must pay really well for Adam Sandler movies because his movies aren't the greatest thing to add to one's résumé.  With a bunch of middle-aged men acting like 12 year-olds, Grown Ups easily proves this to be true.

In 1978, five childhood friends win the junior basketball championship in their district under the tutelage of Coach Buzzer (Blake Clark).  Celebrating their victory, Buzzer encourages the boys to live their lives so that they have no regrets when the buzzer of life sounds and it's all over.  Decades later, these five friends have moved on with their lives, started families of their own, and built careers.  They're all brought back together when the buzzer sounds for the coach.  They all decide to attend his funeral and then subsequently go spend the weekend at the lake house they frequented in their youth.  These old friends may murder each other over the course of the weekend though.

Lenny Feder (Sandler) is Hollywood.  This big agent and his wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek) are being magnanimous by gracing everyone with their presence in a brief pit stop at the lake house but are really getting ready to take their kids to Milan where a big fashion show is taking place.  Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) is pretending to be the co-owner of a successful lawn furniture company.  His social standing amongst the group is undermined by the fact that his wife Sally (Maria Bello) is breastfeeding their 48 month-old son.  With his pregnant wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph) and elderly mother-in-law (Ebony Jo-Ann) constantly on his case, stay-at-home dad Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is in a really bad mood.  It doesn't help that it's his time of the month.  Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) is married to Gloria (Joyce Van Patten), a woman thirty years his senior.  Enough said.  Finally, we have Marcus Higgins (David Spade), a guy who's still chasing the ladies.

I get that Grown Ups is some sort of pathetic SNL reunion, but I still don't understand why some of the bigger stars chose to participate in this mess.  A world-class comedian like Chris Rock does not need to be in this nonsense.  Neither do talented actresses like Maya Rudolph and Maria Bello.  It just doesn't make sense for them and seems like a very poor career move regardless of the paycheck.  On the other hand, Grown Ups does make sense for Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Kevin James.  They're not doing anything better.  That's crystal clear.

Grown Ups is just a dumb affair.  I don't call this movie dumb lightly.  There's no better word to describe it.  I write this firmly believing that any film where middle-aged men have fun by shooting an arrow in the air and seeing where it lands should be called dumb.  There's no way to get around that.  Their arrow roulette is a big part of the film and an even bigger comedic gamble that moviegoers sponsored with their ticket purchases.  I'm here to tell you that all those moviegoers lost out.  As usual, we're offered silly, often grotesque slapstick that Sandler and his director Dennis Dugan try to serve up as comedy.  Ultimately, it’s just not funny.  Grown Ups fails on all levels.

The worse thing about Grown Ups is that Dugan tries to make a terrible family comedy feel like this wonderful experience that leaves moviegoers with a warm and fuzzy feeling.  Cuing cheesy, saccharine music and giving a rosy view of these five families, the movie just rings hollow.  If you bother with this film, you're going to need some mystery shots.  Grown Ups gets a wasted rating.