“Grown Ups” brings together Adam Sandler and his four buddies, guys who owe their movie careers in some way to him, except poor Chris Rock who just can’t seem to register. Sandler always come off a nice guy, and Dod knows I’ve grown up with the guy and have had my share of likes (“Wedding Singer,” “Happy Gilmore”) and dislikes (“Little Nicky,” “Longest Yard,” “Mr. Deeds”). I also liked the new career turn in last year’s great “Funny People” and was hoping he was planning on building on that. Just he remains largely inconsistent. Forgettable garbage like this ruins all his goodwill.
Sandler, Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider play friends reunited at the funeral of their beloved youth basketball coach. Their reunion offers the movies best gags as they riff on each other. How Rock looks like a “bulimic Michael Vick”; Schneider’s toupee makes him look like an “Elvis Oompah loompah.” The five comedians set themselves up as friends nicely and the comedy is strong, but once they and their families visit a rented lake house for the Independence Day weekend, things get lazy.
Sandler and co-writer Fred Wolf go off in random directions looking for cheap laughs, while making any real conflict background to contrived male bonding and family togetherness. There are a few gags that score, surrounded by a mess of dumb ones that elicit a small chuckle if anything. Sandler gets some of the funniest stuff as a Hollywood producer embarrassed by his spoiled family. Rock is wasted as an emasculated house-husband who comes up with cheesy jokes about his mother-in-law’s bunion (which makes for a gross-out gag itself). Spade, playing a wild guy still in love with partying with twenty-something girls (he just continues to stretch as an actor doesn’t he?), tells one or two barbed jokes but makes no impression.
Schneider doesn’t so much tell jokes as become one, playing a New Age vegan wearing an Elvis toupee. He’s married to an older woman (a joke that gets increasingly more mean and unfunny as it’s repeated) and has two smoking hot daughters and one goofy-looking one (also not that funny). And James, the constant butt of fat jokes, plays a father whose four-year old still enjoys breast-feeding (another tiresomely repeated gag). What else passes for laughs? A character getting an arrow in the foot. One pees in the pool. Characters slamming into things and getting hurt. One going face-first into some crap. It might be called “Grown-Ups,” but Sandler’s attempts are mainly childish.