While watching Grown Ups, starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider and David Spade, I realized two things. First, I learned about the fallacy of composition – the theory that says the whole will equal the sum of its parts. Second, I learned that sometimes you have to look past what’s wrong with a film and see it for what it is.
The new comedy from director Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess With The Zohan) stars a whole slew of funny people (pun intended). Alongside Sandler we get Rock, James, Schneider, Spade and of course, the obligatory Steve Buscemi cameo. The fallacy of composition will lead you to believe that this would be a great film. We have some great comedians and a director who has had some decent experience within the comedy genre, specifically with Mr. Sandler as his leading man.
Instead though, we get a film that doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts. If you go in expecting a well thought-out film with a strong script, well-rounded characters and smart comedy, you will be disappointed. That said, if you look past the film’s flaws, you just may enjoy it.
Look at the film this way: you have 5 comedians who haven’t totally grown up, making a film called Grown Ups. You’d be foolish not to know exactly what you’re getting into. The expected fart, boob, racist, fat and old people jokes that go along with immaturity are found here in abundance. In fact, the whole thing is built on childish and immature humor. They even try to make a funeral scene humorous.
The story is as thin as they come. In fact, it’s almost non-existent. Yet, as thin as the story is, the conflicts that arise within the story are even thinner.
Grown Ups tells the story of five childhood friends who are now, wait for it, grown up. One day the news that their former basketball coach has died reaches them and they all show up for the funeral. At the funeral (which is turned into a mockery), the guys and their families all decide to go up to a cabin on the lake for the Fourth Of July weekend. This is about as deep as the plot gets and is the premise for an onslaught of crude and childish humor that fills most of the film.
Of course, the obligatory hodgepodge of cliches that are found in this type of film rear their ugly head. Somehow, by re-uniting at the cabin, people start to realize the error of their ways, secrets come out, people get in fights, all is forgiven, conflicts arise and are solved within the same scene etc. You know right from the get go exactly where this film is going.
The five leads work fairly well together and do produce some genuinely funny moments. However, there are a few odd casting choices that can’t be ignored. For one, Salma Hayek is incredibly out-of-place and has no business being here, playing Sandler’s wife. Another odd decision is the criminal mis-usage of Chris Rock. This man is one of the funniest people working in Hollywood and yet his part is underwritten to the point of invisibility. He has the smallest part out of the five main leads and really doesn’t get a chance to showcase his talents. His job is primarily just to laugh at the jokes others make and looks almost embarrassed to be in the film.
Aside from these issues, the cast all provided the performances you’d expect, for better or worse. Sandler is the strongest of course, while Spade offers a very funny and unexpectedly hilarious performance. The group successfully sells that they are best friends. It’s clear that they had a great time making the film. The chemistry of the couples, on the other hand, is much harder to swallow: I couldn’t buy into the fact that Sandler was married to Hayek and James was married to Maria Bello. In what world would that happen?
The characters are all predictable: James is the target of the fat jokes, Schneider is the walking punch line, Spade is the insult machine and Sandler never lets himself becomes the butt of the jokes. You get exactly what you’d expect from this type of film. It’s essentially just five good friends hanging out, scene after scene, trying to top each other.
Despite what you may think, I will say that I did find the film funny at parts. There were some very funny scenes and the movie had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions. Sure it’s stupid and childish humour but it was entertaining. A lot of the humor was clearly improv and you could tell they made it up as they went along for most scenes. Surprisingly though, some of it works pretty well.
Not all the jokes and gags worked though. A couple are taken too far, constantly recycled and reused throughout the film. These get old, especially when considering some of them aren’t funny to begin with.
The laziness of the writing and direction shines through at these parts and the flimsiness of the film is apparent. The poor filmmaking also comes through as we see act after act go by and none of it is really tied together. Things don’t really happen for a reason here, it’s all just random, the degree of coherency is non existent.
That brings me back to the second thing I learned. Sometimes you have to look past the flaws and see it for what it is. Sure, Grown Ups is severely flawed and by no means a good movie. But, if you can look past that, you just may enjoy it. Go in expecting nothing and you’ll come out somewhat satisfied. Sure, it’s a backhanded compliment, but then it seems like those involved in making this film are looking for nothing more than that anyway.
The chemistry between the five leads is great and the movie does have some genuinely funny scenes. After all, most people go to an Adam Sandler movie to laugh, nothing more. You will laugh during this film. It’s an immature comedy that really isn’t a bad way to kill a few empty hours.
It’s hard for me to give the film a high score. While I did laugh out loud a fair bit, the film is poorly-written, poorly-directed and poorly-acted. Nevertheless, I’d still recommend you see it, as long as you can live with guilty pleasures.
Grown Ups is cliched, predictable and full of immature and juvenile humor. The film recycles far too many jokes and it gets old real fast.