It’s hard to escape the feeling that the script for Grown Ups was left in someone’s desk drawer for about the past fifteen years. We’re talking about a script that contains not one, but multiple O.J. Simpson jokes. Given the cast, made up mostly of 90’s SNL veterans, one would hope this flim-flam of a story could be saved, but no such luck. This is as flat, lazy, and uninspired of a comedy as any in years.
Back in the late 70’s, Lenny (Sandler), Eric (James), Kurt (Rock), Marcus (Spade), and Rob (Schneider) were all on a youth basketball team that won the championship. They celebrated at a lake house with their parents and the coach they idolized, Coach Buzzer (Blake Clark). Fast forward to the present day and Buzzer has just passed away. The funeral serves as a reunion of sorts for the guy, and they wind up spending several days at the old lake house. It’s mainly a filmed vacation that the audience cannot possibly enjoy as much as the cast.
With the razor-thin plot with no conflict to speak of, aside from some ticky-tacky family issues, and scripted jokes that amount to highly hit-and-miss one-liners, Grown Ups never gets off the ground. It’s almost as if screenwriters Sandler and Fred Wolf knew scenes were duds and their solution was just to add more characters. There’s at least a Baker’s Dozen of core characters, none of which have anything interesting to do or say.
Gross-out humor is interspersed as a diversion, most of it standard-issue stuff (characters land in cakes and get their faces pressed into feces), some just nasty (grandma’s bunions are hideous, not mention a few tired gags involving breast milk). All said, this is mostly a nice vacation for all involved, much like Couples Retreat last year. For a cast of this caliber, even with Kevin James clearly filling in for the late Chris Farley, to be wasted like this should result in some kind of charges being filed.
As bad as the film is, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the days of Tommy Boy, Happy Gilmore, and all the other 90’s comedies with these guys that got the job done. It may be time to acknowledge that this team doesn’t have much left in the tank and at the very least have very little interest in putting forth much effort any more. This is a mailed-in production, but at least the cast got a nice vacation. Us, we’re not quite as fortunate.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 102 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity.
Theatrical Release: June 25, 2010
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Written by: Adam Sandler & Fred Wolf.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider