Grown Ups: Terrible, Bland, or Charming?


Grown Ups
(2010)
Full confession: I hadn’t watched this movie until this month to review it just for the heck of it, and I went into it expecting it to be pretty stupid. I was…sort of right?

Adam Sandler and the Happy Gilmore film company have a track record of making films in the 200s that were usually filled with overly crass humor matched with no substance or likability. Grown Ups certainly isn’t as bad as other installments such as Jack and Jill – there’s actually a bit of charm to be found here! – but is it worth it?

SUMMARY
Five friends learn that their school basketball coach from 30 years ago passed away, and they all bring their families to honor him at their funeral. They all spend the weekend at a lodge to revel in their childhood nostalgia while learning that times have definitely changed since they were kids. Sandler covers up parts of his wealth and success, such as his nanny and his disdain for how spoiled the children have become. Rock is a housewife who doesn’t feel respected by his wife or family. James’ 4-year-old son won’t stop breastfeeding…oh, and he’s fat. Spade…is a drunken, lonely wiseguy hiding behind jokes. And Ron Schneider is married to his new wife: a vegan old bag.

WHAT WORKS

  1. Interaction with the Kids – The scene where the kids made cup phones was the first truly touching moment in the movie, for obvious reasons. It was like something out of a commercial for “take our product so you can live a longer life and be around for your children” and I mean that in the nicest way. It was kind of neat to see a few spoiled, bratty kids turn into a few appreciative, brave, “let’s experience life a little” kids. – and this, ladies and gentlemen, was where the true charm of Grown Ups truly took place.
  2. Kevin James’ Breastfeeding Son– You know, it’s weird…I didn’t expect this kid to grow on me. For the longest in this movie, he creeped me out like no other. Yet somehow, his cute kid delivery of lines like “mommy, can I try her milk?” eventually won me over. It’s messed up, I know, but what can I say? Kids get away with the darnedest things.
  3. Steve Buscemi – Okay, I have NO idea what Steve was doing here, but boy, was he such a delight. Sometimes it’s actually pretty fun to have that one random character who’s only there to be a different type of goof than the main characters. I almost want a “Wiley’s Playhouse” series. In other news, it was nice (but almost equally random) to see Tim Meadows baldly shouting “boo-yah!” (yes, ‘baldly.’)
  4. Rob Schneider – I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to like Rob Schneider’s character. I had the mentality of “here come Rob Schendier playing another eccentric weirdo for laughs but it won’t be very funny” when the reality was, we all knew (and may have been friends with) this person in school. And yes, the person I knew like this in high school may very easily marry an older woman and make questionable performance choices at a funeral. Plus, it helps that this feels like a more understated Rob Schneider character (even with that nearly offensive Ave Maria performance).

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Action – The biggest problem, really, is just that the movie isn’t that interesting. I can barely remember the few times when I actually laughed or even came close. At least at some point, the kids became charming. There wasn’t as much shock humor as you would see in a typical 2000s Adam Sandler movie (yes, even with an arrow going through Rob Schneider’s foot), so nothing really stuck out in either a good or bad way. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to grow immune to much more memorable shenanigans in these Sandler films, but it really just felt like a lot of it was “there.” Oh hey, Rob Schneider has two oblivious attractive, daughters and one sweet, Meg Griffin-looking one. Okay. Oh look, David Spade’s naked behind. Cool. Even the breastfeeding mom accidentally hitting Maya Rudolph didn’t do much for me. (Though, don’t let me be around if this happens in real life.)
  2. Kevin James Fat Jokes – You know, Kevin James really isn’t all that big of a guy. It’s pretty lame that all of the jokes directed at this guy (who doesn’t seem to be doing that bad in life other than having a family that’s kind of…off) are simply reduced to a bunch of “oh he’s a big fat guy and he eats, see its funny” jokes. Not even the first one with him breaking the family pool was funny. It gets worse when he starts making fun of himself as if that’s all he can use to make pleasant conversation. “Let’s order 17 hamburgers and 17 fries…that’s all for me, what about the rest of you?”
  3. Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph & Suga Mama – Here’s my problem with this generally “normal” family of characters: they aren’t funny. And I know that’s subjective, but come on – you have Chris Rock, one of the funniest comedians on the planet, as a main character in a movie in which 85% of his jokes run out the door as soon as he says them. And why doesn’t the guy have a job??? And Maya Rudolph is usually either an over-the-top character for laughs (remember her Whitney Houston?) or a little more understated (Bridesmaids) but still funny. Here, a lot of her jokes don’t quite hit either. And Suga Mama (yes, that’s what I’ve named her) is more annoying than funny. It’s like Sandler took what he thought was a funny stereotype of an old black woman, gave it some bunions & farts and said it’ll work. At least she didn’t sing a negro spiritual (this is the only time I’ll ever say that.)
  4. The Jokes – Yeah, a lot of these don’t necessarily work. Or, they do, but they’re not funny enough to be memorable past a few seconds. The result is, I don’t really remember much of what I’m writing about, to be honest. It’s just sad how many genuinely funny people are involved in the main cast and how little comedy actually happened. Many of the passing one-liners felt like cutting-room floor material for a forgettable SNL sketch – not a movie.
  5. Characters – Sadly, as much as I started wanting to know these characters a little better, they either aren’t that memorable or the actors are just playing themselves. Adam Sandler is just playing Adam Sandler, but a “yeah, I’m a dad now and I’m starting to get old, but I can still have a little fun” Adam Sandler. Chris Rock is very obviously Chris Rock, but watered down and given lame jokes that should have been saved for the guy opening for his standup show. Otherwise, Sandler’s wife (Salma Hayek) isn’t very memorable, Kevin James wife is based in one joke…I was about to tell you which characters they actually want you to remember, but this movie is so forgettable, that I forgot right after I started typing that sentence.

CONCLUSION
It’s strange, because this isn’t as bad of a movie as I thought it would be. It’s also not that great or memorable. Originally, my complaint halfway through the movie was that I felt more like I was watching other people joke around and have a good time from the sides, not being in on the joke, rather than enjoying the good times with them. But then the move the kids and the family started to connect, the charm of the characters started to come through and I slowly started to care about what happens to them. But other than a couple of eventually charming moments, it’s a story we’ve seen before watered down with some nuances and jokes you’ll forget about pretty soon. I do like that it was simple enough in its’ premise; I just wish that the execution would have taken things a little further. What else is there to say? It wasn’t a movie trying to be as edgy as possible; it’s just a little 90-minute thing for you to laugh at for a bit (except you might not laugh that much).

BLACKOMETER: 5/10

Let me know what you think!
-BB2

(And NO. I DO NOT feel like reviewing the unwarranted Grown Ups 2.)