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Jun252010

GROWN UPS is full of fart jokes and breast feeding (review)

Rating:  (Mediocre)

I've never been one to let a good fart joke pass unrecognized. I enjoy the kind of lowbrow humor Adam Sandler has been putting up on the big screen for 15 years, but he's running out of gas. Grown Ups continues a downward slide for Sandler, who desperately needs some fresh ideas. I laughed a lot, but the movie feels more like a gag reel. This is an hour and a half of Adam Sandler and his buddies casually goofing off at a cabin.

5 wild and crazy guys

Here's how it works. In 1978, all five of these guys were on a winning school basketball team and now they're all meeting back up to celebrate (mourn) Coach Buzzer's death. Though none of them have seen the coach for decades, he picked them to scatter his ashes. At first, I thought I was watching another Death at a Funeral (which also starred Chris Rock), but that is a far better film. In fact, there's even a scene where an older black woman pushes kids out of the way so she can run up the steps. It's nearly identical to a Loretta Devine scene in Funeral. Is this a thing black women do in times of grieving? I guess so. Grandma wears an Aretha Franklin inauguration hat most of the time and her laughs usually come from fart sounds and bunion jokes. 

I digress. Back to the guys. I won't use their movie names, because, well, who cares.

Adam Sandler is a rich Hollywood agent with a hot wife (Salma Hayek) and spoiled children he's embarrassed about. Oddly, one week in the wild cures their problems, which leads me to ask why Dad never cared enough about his kids to make them drink tap water instead of Fiji water a long time ago. Sandler's also shy about his money. He pretends his nanny (Di Quon) is a foreign exchange student, but instead of privately telling her to act like part of the family, he just gives her books to read. She's very confused.

Kevin James claims he owns a lawn furniture business, but he's actually jobless. His wife is Maria Bello, a mom who still breast feeds their 48 month old son; she loves pumping. Later, we see how easy it is to get the kid drinking regular milk when James hands him a carton and he drinks it (rocket science).

Chris Rock is a stay at home dad who watches the cooking channel, and acts like a girl around his working pregnant wife, Maya Rudolph. No one appreciates the hard work it takes to make dinner. 

Dickie Roberts, err, David Spade never really grew up. He's single, lives in what looks like a decked-out dorm room, and cracks jokes like David Spade.

Finally, Rob Schneider is the overly dramatic one. At the coach's funeral service, he sings while the rest of the gang bets on whether he'll go so far as to get down on one knee and weep. He does. Schneider is dating an older woman (Joyce Van Patten) and they have an avid sex life. Expect a lot of "old people are gross" type jokes. He's also kind of a hippie and into weird stuff like dehydrated foods and herbal remedies consisting mostly of corn, or 'maize' as he likes to call it. 

What now?

And that's about it. The set ups are pretty funny. Kevin James breaks a pool trying to get out and Rob Schneider burns his hand, but their characters never develop because most of their problems are trivial. These guys just want to chill and crack jokes from lawn chairs, and that's mostly what they do. When they get bored of sitting, they play a game where they aim a bow into the sky and try to not get killed by the falling arrow. When that gets old, they go to a water park and crack jokes there. In one montage, all the guys pee in a pool at the same time. 

Eventually, Colin Quinn pops up and wants them to play basketball again. He's from a rival team, I guess. Mostly, he's just annoying. I've never found Quinn funny and on film his humor falls flatter still. The guy can't act. Luckily, funnier people like Steve Buscemi bail him out. I still remember Buscemi's monologue at the beginning of Desperado. You'll never see a scene like that in a Sandler movie.

Big cast, small ideas

Casual is a good word for this film. There are no fights in Grown Ups, and none of these guys have any real problems with one another, though they pretend to--it's a necessity for movies of this kind. You see, going to a cabin with other people is the best way to fix your marriage. Check out Couples Retreat orTyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too if you don't believe me (better yet, don't). 

I'm a fan of Adam Sandler, but he's put out better comedy--a lot better. I laugh when I see people slap one another, milk shoot across a room, or an arrow flies into someone's foot, but a good comedy is more than a string of lowbrow jokes. Grown Ups is full of funny people, but it's screenplay hasn't a clue how to use them. My suggestion: go watch Dan in Real Life or The Great Outdoors. Sandler and his friends seem happy celebrating on their own.

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