Saturday 25 July 2015

Movie Review: Grown Ups (2010)

A low-brow comedy slapped together with nominal effort, Grown Ups is almost condescending in its minimalist attitude and lack of talent application.

A group of five snotty 12 year old friends overachieve and win a school basketball championship. Thirty years later, their beloved coach dies, and they gather for his funeral along with their wives and kids. Lenny (Adam Sandler) is now a successful talent agent and is married to uppity fashion designer Roxanne (Salma Hayek). Eric (Kevin James) has been less successful in his career and is married to Sally (Maria Bello), who is still breastfeeding their four-year-old son. Kurt (Chris Rock) is a stay-at-home-dad, married to the pregnant Deanne (Maya Rudolph) and having to tolerate her loudmouth mother (Ebony Jo-Ann).

The group is rounded out by Higgy (David Spade), who never settled down and is still chasing women, and Rob (Rob Schneider), who always had a thing for older women and is now married to the much older Gloria (Joyce Van Patten). After spreading the coach's ashes, the group settles down for a countryside weekend of fun and adventure, and they learn a few truths and air out some issues related to the past and their relationships.

Purportedly directed by Dennis Dugan and co-written by Sandler, Grown Ups is as vacuous as it sounds. The project smells of a group of comedians gathering for a week of fun, ad-libbing most of the dialogue, cracking a few jokes, and wrapping the whole thing in the flimsiest of premises to pretend that this is a film worth releasing. Somehow the movie reportedly cost $80 million, while what's on the screen resembles a glorified family vacation video. More remarkably, Grown Ups grossed $270 million, testament to the dumb power of the lowest common denominator.

There is undoubted talent involved, and there are some laughs to be had, all of the really silly variety. But the lame pranks outnumber the good moments by a good two to one margin, and all the scenes involving Rock, Spade and Schneider are more awkward than funny. Sandler and James do better, and they are halfway believable as fathers doing their best to deal with middle-age issues. Steve Buscemi shows up late as a member of the local dimwits who challenge Lenny and his friends to a rematch of that famous grade school basketball final.

The ladies have way too much talent to be involved in this project. Hayek, Bello and Rudolph hide their embarrassment, deliver their punchlines with no conviction, and scurry off to cash their cheques.

Despite offering some laughs, Grown Ups is nothing if not juvenile.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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