Theatrical Review: GROWN UPS
Director: Dennis Dugan
Writers: Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Rob Schneider
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Summer is my second favorite season for movies. Yes, due to my indie sensibilities, I do prefer the somber films of winter. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t store my favorite cardigans and embrace the wonders of the big-budget summer comedy. We all need a break from the romantic tragedy, thankfully summer provides us one.
I walked into this week’s newest comedy release, GROWN UPS, just knowing two hours of belly laughs were in store. The cast ranges from the hilarious Adam Sandler (yes, I still think he’s hilarious, don’t judge) to the extremely versatile Maya Rudolph and Steve Buscemi, which should guarantee comedy success. And then the first ten minutes passed, and I realized this comedy was just the opposite of funny.
The group is brought back together after 30 years to attend the funeral of their pee-wee basketball coach. Sandler plays high-powered Hollywood agent Lenny Feder who is the glue that continues to hold this group together, even if it’s just through wedding appearances and Christmas cards. He is a family man concerned about the lifestyle that he has provided his children, and believes a humbling trip to New England will be the perfect opportunity to show his children a simpler life. After the funeral, Lenny, Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James), Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock), Marcus Higgins (David Spade), and Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) and their respective families head off to their rented lake house for a weekend of memory reliving and bonding.
Director Dennis Dugan takes Sandler’s script and tries his best to make it as translatable as possible to the screen. The movie has many great opportunities to embrace the funny, however it often takes a joke too far. In an introductory scene Kurt’s wife, Deanne (Rudolph) comes home from work to find Kurt cooking dinner for the family. She riles on him about his cooking and sensitivity, just as a bullish husband would do to his wife in earlier comedies. Apparently, switching gender roles for this couple is Sandler’s way of getting the laughs. Kurt is the househusband who is emasculated by his harsh wife, instead of the other way around. Rock plays Kurt as overly sensitive and even gets told that it “must be his time of the month” when he gets upset over his treatment. Cheap shots and sophomoric jokes like that continue throughout, peaking at two rape jokes later in the movie. I expect more from a father of two daughters, but clearly Sandler forgot that he was one.
Instead of enjoying a great cast and hilarious writing, I spent the majority of the movie just waiting for it to end. These talented actors and actresses have spent too much time in their careers to have their names attached to something this—quite frankly—insulting. In the end, the joke was on them.
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