Adam Sandler’s summer box office hit Grown Ups offers a few scattered laughs and not much else. Panned mercilessly upon release, this kind of movie is essentially critic-proof. The audience demands little and is rewarded with a breezy hour and forty minutes of fluff. The cast is loaded with well known comic actors. Sandler, who also produced and co-wrote, leads the pack. He’s joined by a few other former Saturday Night Live cast members: Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Colin Quinn. After Sandler the heaviest hitter is Kevin James, the former King Of Queens television actor who has struck box office gold with every movie he has starred or co-starred in.
These guys play childhood buddies, all of whom played for the same grade school basketball team. They are reunited some thirty years after hearing that their beloved coach passes away. The coach guided their team to a championship, teaching them life lessons in the process. Families in tow, the adult friends convene at a lake house for a few days of rest and relaxation following the funeral service. They reminisce, compare and contrast their lives, and try to show their kids how to enjoy the great outdoors. A very tacked on subplot slowly emerges, concerning their rival team who never quite got over losing the championship. These sore losers are looking for a rematch to set the record straight.
Grown Ups is an easygoing family film that passes by fairly painlessly. Never swinging for the fences, these comic actors spar gently with each other. Belly laughs are far and few between, but the chuckles are there depending on your taste for cheap humor. At times, Sandler and co-writer Fred Wolf seem to be digging for something slightly deeper. But rather than burden the movie with anything actually reflective about the aging and maturation process, they settled for pratfalls and featherweight bawdy sight gags. Reduce your expectations to zero, and you’ll very likely find yourself vaguely entertained.
Helping matters somewhat are the actresses cast as the men’s wives. Instead of generic nobodies, a trio of skilled women were brought aboard. Salma Hayek is the fashionista wife of Sandler’s character. Maria Bello is Kevin James’ better half, still breastfeeding her four year old son (who provides the funniest moments of the movie). Former SNL cast member Maya Rudolph plays the ballbusting wife of Chris Rock’s milquetoast househusband. Stealing a few scenes as Rob Schneider’s senior citizen wife is Joyce Van Patten. If the thought of Rob Schneider swapping spit with an elderly woman brings a smile to your face rather than queasiness to your gut, this is your movie.
The inevitable basketball rematch between two groups of out of shape, middle-aged guys is an anticlimax. The movie had been coasting on fumes for awhile by that point, and during the last fifteen minutes or so it completely loses momentum. Grown Ups will probably play best for young teenagers. Super uptight parents may balk at some of the crude humor, but nothing here will scar anyone.
The DVD has a few supplements, all of which are barely worth mentioning. A couple gag reels and a promotional piece featuring some superficial cast interviews all that is included.