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Marshall Fine

Marshall Fine

Posted: June 23, 2010 07:33 AM

HuffPost Review: Grown Ups

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It's been a long time since I saw a movie as lazy -- in both its writing and its execution -- as Grown Ups.

A reunion of Saturday Night Live alumni from the 1990s -- also known as the lost years -- the film is little more than an excuse for buddies Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider (and Kevin James, filling the fat-guy role that would have gone to Chris Farley, if he hadn't eaten and drugged himself to death) to hang out and cash in.

Because, boy, they sure don't do much else. This film has only the suggestion of a script, credited to Sandler and Fred Wolf (whose screenwriting credits include such noteworthy titles as Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star). It becomes obvious very quickly that the five of them got together, riffed on scenes for the film, then worked from only the most bare-bones sketch of a story.

This film is like Jason Miller's That Championship Season, except with douchebags who think they're funny. Rather than offer actual punchlines, the film seems to consist of ad-lib wisecracks and insults, to which director Dennis Dugan and the cast repeatedly said, "That's good enough." Not by half.

The story, such as it is, focuses on five friends, one-time teammates on a championship middle-school basketball squad, who went their separate ways. But they reunite for the funeral of the coach who guided them to that championship when they were adolescents, gathering at a church in "New England."

Yes, that's what it says on the screen: "New England." In other words, this is a movie so lazy that the title card can't even be bothered to specify a single state for its location, let alone a city. Why say "New England"? Why not "The Northeast"? Or perhaps: "The East Coast"? You don't want to have to think too much, right?

To celebrate the reunion, Lenny (Sandler), the team's leader -- and its richest guy -- rents a fabulous lakefront house in their old hometown (somewhere in "New England") big enough for all five guys and their wives and children to spend the week leading up to July 4. But Lenny, a hotshot Hollywood agent, doesn't plan to stick around; he and his wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek), a fashion designer, have to leave right after the funeral for Fashion Week in Milan, where her work is showing.

Lenny, however, has other plans. His kids are so spoiled that they don't even yell for the nanny -- they text her. He wants to skip Milan so his kids can experience an old-fashioned, video-game-free, outdoors childhood the way he did, before he became a high-paid Hollywood scumbag with the means to turn them into the spoiled brats that they are.

(And in what universe would Adam Sandler be married to Salma Hayek? The same one, apparently, where Kevin James is married to Maria Bello.)

And that's it. Each guy comes with his own family and set of foibles (except for Spade, once again playing the horny single guy), which his friends make fun of. Yet there is very little that the five sluggish comics do that's actually funny. You get the feeling that, between takes, they were cracking each other up on the set -- but that certainly doesn't translate to what wound up on the screen.

Indeed, the only real laughs in the film belong to other cast members, whether it's Maria Bello as a mother whose 4-year-old is still breastfeeding or Maya Rudolph as Rock's domineering wife. On the other hand, the numerous jokes about Rob Schneider being married to a woman old enough to be his mother (played by a very game Joyce Van Patten) go nowhere.

What's alarming is that there is an entire generation who consider these guys the comedy touchstones of their era. This is why Generation X is doomed.

Grown Ups is a scam on the audience -- a paid vacation for its stars masquerading as a movie that people will actually pay to watch. There are more laughs in any 10 minutes of Toy Story 3 than in this entire flimsy piece of garbage.

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