Friday, June 25, 2010

review | Grown Ups

UNFUNNY PEOPLE | Do you LOL in movies when people fart or wake up from a crazy night of drinking to find out that they MAYBE had sex with the family dog? Are you like YEAH! OW! HIGH-FIVE! when you gaze upon the bodacious ta-tas of a sexy lady-person? Did you enjoy Couples Retreat? If your answers are "yes!", "yes!", and "a thousand times yes!", then: 1.) you will probably absolutely squee with delight at GROWN UPS; and 2.) you and I will probably absolutely never agree on what constitutes good comedy. Adam Sandler co-produces, co-writes, and stars a rich 40-ish manchild — or, if you prefer, HIMSELF — who goes on an impromptu weekend family getaway with his old buddies following the funeral of their beloved middle-school basketball coach. The old buddies are wispy sitcom archetypes played by Sandler's early-'90s Saturday Night Live compatriots and/or recent film sidekicks — Chris Rock (emasculated husband!), Kevin James (laid-off provider!), Rob Schneider (passive hippie!), and David Spade (inexplicable womanizer!) — so Grown Ups is sort of like art imitating life approximating crap. In other words: They hang out, as they likely do in real life, and you get to watch.

Accompanied by various wives (Salma Hayek Pinault, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Joyce Van Patten: I love you all, but WE NEED TO TALK) and mostly loathsome children, they first hang out in and around a lake house, and then they move on to hanging out at a theme park, and they finally hang out at a July 4th picnic, where so many American-flag T-shirts are on display that I began to wonder if Sandler & Co. were greenscreened in front of a Wal-Mart ad. You get to watch them mug and goof around, you get to watch them stumble face-first into cream pie and animal shit, and you get to watch them accidentally shoot arrows into their own feet. Essentially, Grown Ups is America's Funniest Home Videos: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. It's not a one-joke movie, though. No, if you count the giant bunion and the lactating breast and the septuagenarian intercourse, there are actually about nine jokes here, and they are repeated ad nauseum despite being varying degrees of wheezy. (Also: two O.J. Simpson gags. TWO. And jarringly sentimental passages, like an ├╝ber-earnest climactic speech about adulthood and marital love. Broken up with a crack about transsexuals, of course.) The guys have a credible, easygoing chemistry — making Grown Ups must've required zero effort from the cast, and I mean that as both a compliment and a dismissal — but why would the Schneider character willingly endure his alleged "friends"' incessant cruelty about his much-older spouse (Van Patten, a warm presence the movie desperately needs) and his granola ways? Is vegan food so objectionable that these manly-men dudes would rather eat bacon cooked on a bug zapper? Really? REALLY, FILM? Perhaps fittingly, Grown Ups winds up blander than tofu. D —Jasper

Rating: PG-13. Running time: 102 minutes.

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