Five friends who were basketball team mates at the age of 12, reunite to honour the passing of their childhood basketball coach. With their wives and kids in tow, they spend the Fourth of July holiday weekend at the lakehouse where they celebrated their championship all those years ago.
Review by Louise Keller:
Puerile humour and slapstick is the language of Adam Sandler's lowbrow comedy in which bad taste, cheap laughs and predictability pass batons. Did you hear about the person who slipped on the banana skin? Well, in this case, it's more about did you see who was slapped by the dehydrated banana. (In case you're interested, it is Rob Schneider.) There's a face falling in a cream cake, an arrow that finds a passing foot, umpteen breast feeding jokes, toupee gags, age jokes and men who look as though they are swallowing flies with mouths ajar watching leggy, shapely babes. Everything is offensive - in an innocent kind of way - and judging by the continual stream of laughter at the screening, there is a market for this asinine film that is basically as harmless as it is moronic.
I don't mind lowbrow as long as there is a bit of wit or fun in the proceedings; for my money, there's neither here, but there is no accounting for tastes. The film's main appeal is the obvious camaraderie when you put five real-life friends together on screen and fabricated nonsense that follows. Sandler wrote the script with Saturday Night Live writer Fred Wolf and to be fair, it does look as though everyone is having fun. The pretext of putting together old school buddies with the families they had never met is fine, although director Dennis Dugan (who directed Sandler in You Don't Mess With the Zohan, another underwhelming comedy) lacks finesse. He never manages to set the tone on any level that is credible, which means that there is never anything at stake. The funeral scene in which Rob Schneider sings Ave Maria irreverently during the service is anything but funny.
Sandler basically plays himself in the guise of a successful Hollywood agent with a gorgeous, fashion designer wife (Salma Hayek, looking fabulous) and brat kids who have everything, including a Chinese nanny Rita (Di Quon, sweet), who is instructed to say she is an exchange student. His pals (Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider) play his pals and each of their families (or quirks) are milked for all they're worth. Especially James' onscreen wife (Maria Bellow) who is still breast feeding their 4 year old son.
I did laugh at Schneider's obvious 'Elvis toupee' flapping in the breeze and his onscreen older wife Gloria (Joyce Van Patten, terrific), who is a bit of a nature-lover. Ebony Jo-Ann as Mama Ronzoni is good value as the larger-than-life black mama about whom bunion jokes and farts fly far more readily than an unfortunate Steve Buscemi, whose screen moments are, well, unfortunate. Chris Rock is thrown away (his pregnant onscreen wife Maya Rudolph gets more comedic opportunities) and David Spade (as the only bachelor) spends the night in a cupboard with an attractive labradoodle that sounds like a turkey. Yes, the film's a turkey, but there is obviously a market for it.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Fart jokes, pratfalls involving flat-face into cow pats and cream cakes, breast feeding gags, hot babes in scanty panties and a dozen versions of slipping on a banana peel make up much of the comedic material on which Team Adam Sandler rely for the laughs. If I had you at 'fart jokes' you're the target market and while I love a good fart joke myself, I'm less excited by lame ones. But above all, I love a good story, no matter how juvenile the dressing. Grown Ups elicits groans from me mostly because there's no story. Instead, there is a thin and unoriginal premise which provides the skeleton for the alleged comedy.
There are laughs to be had, but the less demanding you are the more you'll chuckle. Inherent in the comedic concept is the notion that these five friends re-visit their childhood - with varying degrees of satisfaction. The title is intended as ironic comment on how their behaviour is far from grown up. Hmmm, hilarious.
We meet them on the basketball court where they fluke their championship and give their coach his moment in the sun. Jumping 30 years, we rejoin them - and they team up again supposedly never having met up since that day - all wearing the baggage of adulthood. Most have partners, and all have problems, although not much exploration of those here.
What little reality seeps into the film is quickly squashed and we're encouraged to enjoy them poking fun at each other and having a childish time. It's the kind of humour you find at school, where being different is a total embarrassment. This would all work if there was a point to it, but I can't find it.
Even so, watching the performances helps to pass the time: Adam Sandler is his shambling good natured self, irritatingly able to be sincere in the same moment as he's being devious. Salma Hayek as his wife is a gorgeous breath of fresh air, and Maya Rudolph as Kurt's (Chris Rock) pregnant wife Sally is wonderfully real. Roy Schneider plays a freakish Rob, whose interest in older women is played to the hilt in a running gag that inevitably ends in a schmaltzy scene, to make up for her being the butt of so many bad jokes.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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GROWN UPS (PG)
CAST: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Steve Buscemi
PRODUCER: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo
DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan
SCRIPT: Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Theo van de Sande
EDITOR: Tom Costain
MUSIC: Rupert Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Perry Andelin Blake
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 24, 2010