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'Grown Ups' Movie Review

Sandler Gathers His Friends for a New Comedy That Feels Like Old-School Sandler

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By

Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and Adam Sandler Grown Ups photo

Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and Adam Sandler in 'Grown Ups.'

© Columbia Pictures
Grown Ups isn't smart, snappy or meant for grown ups with a mature sense of humor. It's not particularly well-written (I'm not sure how much of the script actually wound up on screen as this group prefers ad-libbing). Grown Ups is juvenile and sloppy, but for families looking for a leave-your-brain-at-the-door popcorn film, it fits the bill. It's a goofy summer movie, quickly forgotten but fun enough while it lasts.
If you could grab four friends, head out to a movie set, screw around for a month and get paid pretty well to act like a kid again, you'd probably jump at the opportunity - and that's what Adam Sandler did with Grown Ups. Sandler gathered his old Saturday Night Live gang, and his I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry co-star Kevin James, set his friend and frequent collaborator Dennis Dugan behind the camera, and made a throw-back Sandler-ish comedy (meaning childish but with heart and an 'important lesson' somewhere in the mix). Sandler returns to the brand of comedy that made him a powerhouse on the big screen in the late '90s/early 2000s, and while Grown Ups doesn't live up to Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer or even Billy Madison, it generates enough laughs to entertain kids looking for an alternative to animated family fare.

Grown Ups - The Story

In 1978 an inspirational coach nicknamed Buzzer led four talented young basketball players and one completely un-athletic kid (Chris Rock's character, aged 12) to the championship. It would be the only team to win the championship in the coach's long career, and the boys who played on it respected their coach and remained friends long after that championship season was over. When word comes the coach has passed away, the now 40+ year olds gather at their old stomping grounds - a beach house in New England - for the funeral and to spread Buzzer's ashes.

David Spade, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock and Kevin James in Grown Ups photo

David Spade, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock and Kevin James in 'Grown Ups.'

© Columbia Pictures
Now grown up, the five-some lead very different lives. As a kid, Eric was the fit guy who played enforcer. As an adult, Eric (Kevin James) has gotten soft in the middle and is now the father of a 48 month old who still breastfeeds from mom, Sally (Maria Bello). Kurt (Chris Rock) is a stay-at-home dad whose pregnant wife (Maya Rudolph) takes him for granted, makes fun of his cooking, and has planted her mom in the household just to annoy him. Marcus (David Spade) is a 40 year old horndog, and Rob (Rob Schneider) has become this granola-loving, New Age sensitive man married to a woman 30+ years his senior (Joyce Van Patten). And Lenny (Sandler) is a big-shot Hollywood agent married to a gorgeous fashion designer (Salma Hayek Pinault) with two video-game loving sons so spoiled they text their nanny to order drinks and food so they don't have to leave the couch, and a cute daughter who seems more in touch with the real world than all the other kids and the adults combined.

Getting back together for a weekend brings out the kid in each of the guys. And as they get in touch with their inner child, each learns to appreciate what they have and to cherish their relationships. Awww, how sweet.

Grown Ups - The Bottom Line

Grown Ups hits on the staples of Sandler's early comedies, covering well the three Ps of his joke repertoire: poop, pee, and penis. Throw in a running gag about a four year old still breastfeeding, a dog that sounds like a turkey, and Schneider's ridiculous toupee, and it's a typical Sandler comedy aiming for cheap, easy laughs. Grown Ups knows its target audience and blows through one-liner after one-liner hoping for more hits than misses. Does it work? Yes, if you like Sandler, aren't looking for smart comedy, and can handle the film's low-brow humor. The preview audience I saw it with was made up of all ages, and they gave it a solid round of applause at the end.

David Spade, Kevin James, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in Grown Ups photo

David Spade, Kevin James, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in 'Grown Ups.'

© Columbia Pictures
You know, it's all a matter of taste. I find Sandler funny (even the totally juvenile Sandler), and quite a few of the one-liners made me actually laugh out loud. It's a good summer comedy - nothing more. The plot's incredibly simple, the jokes aim for the lowest common denominator, and there are so many characters, there's absolutely no time for any actual development of any of them. Still, I laughed, and that was all I was looking to get out of Grown Ups.

GRADE: B-

Grown Ups was directed by Dennis Dugan and is rated PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity.

Theatrical Release: June 25, 2010

Disclosure: This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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