Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Watered Down GROWN UPS
Grown Ups is neither a good movie nor a terrible movie. It just sort of lingers between an SNL reunion show and a scripted home video. There isn’t much plot going on: Old school friends gather together when their favourite basketball coach dies and they bond again with their families at the cottage. They mock each other. There are fart jokes. Old Grandma bunyons the size of a toddler’s head, and breast milk squirting across a kitchen table. I could go on, but you get the idea.
The film reunites the SNL gang of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, and Kevin James takes the spot that would have been occupied by the late Chris Farley. This movie probably could have used Farley and his larger than life screen presence. The guys are sort of bland in this, retreading old jokes and pretty much playing themselves. The wives, played by Selma Hayek, Rudolph, Maria Bello and Joyce Van Patten fair better. The pickings must be slim in Hollywood for gorgeous, talented oscar nominees like Selma if she's playing second fiddle to Sandler. Although, she brings depth to a character who could have been quite one dimensional.
The script is co-written by Sandler, an Adam Sandler who has lost his edge (if he ever really had any,) and it’s obvious how nostalgic he has become now that he is a father (his daughters have cameos in the film, along with his wife). The script doesn’t feel fully developed despite what I believe to be genuine attempts at trying to create a theme and capturing a bit of old school magic. However, I can't pinpoint a true climax. A half-assed basketball rematch is lukewarm and is weak. The one good thing about it is that it reveals a nice side to Sandler's character, which we get in that moment, but then that gets ruined when in the following scene he has to explain his actions to his wife, which of course is a benefit to the audience. Is the audience that dumb that we can't pick it up on visuals? The exposition isn't needed. Then again, some moviegoers are indeed dumb, and this movie is the kind of experience where the brain is definitely left at the door.
It's also obvious that the actors were ad-libbing and trying to one up one another. And therein lies the biggest problem with this movie: it comes off as self-indulgent and about the actors amusing one another rather than amusing an audience.
There's nothing new in this film. The physical comedy is lacking: a waterpark sequence is mainly a waste of time and the one funny part (the grown ups peeing in the pool) is shown in the trailers. Blink and you miss the cameo of Norm MacDonald's ass. Also, can someone tell me why Steve Buscemi is in this film? Apart from him showing off his translucent body for some laughs, I really have no idea why such a talented actor is here at all.
The film runs about an hour and forty-five minutes, but it felt longer. It's not worth seeing in the theatres. Save your money, or use it to rent some "best of SNL" dvds featuring Chris Farley.