Review by Jack Foley
ADAM Sandler remains one of the most infuriating actor-comedians working today. When he puts his mind to it, he can be brilliant as performances in Punch Drunk Love and Funny People show.
But all too often he resorts to comfort comedy, with the help of his friends… films that rely on cheap, unfunny laughs and lazy plot scenarios. Grown-Ups, his latest, falls into the latter category and is a painfully self-indulgent effort that squanders a potentially brilliant cast.
To say the plot is simple is bestowing too much praise – it’s virtually non-existent. When their high school basketball coach does, five friends – played by Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider – head to the country for a weekend of relaxation and nostalgia with their wives and girlfriends – including Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Joyce Van Patten – in tow.
The ensuing film finds them hanging out, cracking jokes at each other’s expense, squaring up to their former high school rivals (still aggrieved after all these years) and generally regressing to their childhoods.
But while undoubtedly great fun for Sandler and co to shoot, the ensuing comedy lacks any dramatic impetus, or any really funny jokes. It’s almost as though this collective ensemble – with director Dennis Dugan and co-writer Fred Wolf included – forgot to make a film!
The jokes rely on the obvious or low-brow, with humour being derived from Kevin James’ weight or his character’s fondness for pee-ing where he’s not supposed to (in lakes or public pools), Schneider making out with an older woman repeatedly or Bello breast-feeding her four-year-old kid.
Sandler – as both co-writer and star – must take the lion’s share of the blame, apparently having learned nothing from his experience with Judd Apatow [on Funny People] and resorting to lame scenarios and self-indulgent buddy posturing.
Attempts to comment on male camaraderie, middle-age crisis and parent-child relationships in the modern age merely feel half-hearted and are never fully explored.
The overall impression, therefore, is that Grown Ups is an extremely juvenile experience that shouldn’t be indulged by audiences.
Running time: 103mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 17, 2011