More of a Saturday Night Live cast reunion than anything else, Grown Upshas fairly good intentions and lots of talent, but that still doesn’t add up to a satisfying movie. The cast contains several veteran comedians, but it is painfully obvious that their comedy still needs time to mature.
A funeral brings five friends together in Grown Ups
After their beloved junior high basketball coach, Bobby ‘Buzzer’ Ferdinando (Blake Clark) passes away, the five members of his one-and-only championship team reunite to honor his memory. Now a wealthy, high-profile Hollywood agent, Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) rents the lake house where he, his friends and their families celebrated their victory with Coach Buzzer 30 years earlier.
Life has not been quite as sweet for Lenny’s teammates, though. Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) has a beautiful wife (Maria Bello), but his children have severe emotional problems. Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock), a stay-at-home-husband, is emasculated every day by his hard-working wife (Maya Rudolph) and domineering mother-in-law (Ebony Jo-Ann).
Now on his third wife, Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) looks for meaning in his life through holistic healing and a vegan diet, but Lenny expects him to snap at any moment. Thirty years after the big game, Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is still single, though, and chasing all the ladies.
Although Lenny has all the trappings of a wealthy California lifestyle, he’s embarrassed by his home life. His spoiled kids whine about the 1980’s era television in the lake house while his wife (Salma Hayek) is impatient to get to Milan for her latest fashion show. Lenny also is afraid to admit he has a live-in housekeeper and nanny because that would really make him look like a snob.
Saturday Night Live meets Happy Madison in Grown Ups
After watching Grown Ups, it is pretty obvious that Adam Sandler called up his Saturday Night Live co-horts and said “Hey, let’s all make a movie together.” Produced under Sandler’s Happy Madison label, the popular comedian also brings in familiar faces from many of his earlier movies, including Blake Clark as the beloved Coach Buzzer.
Sandler, who co-wrote the script, and director Dennis Dugan obvious never heard of the business principle called The Law of Diminishing Returns. This guideline states that there is a point where productivity can decrease with too many employees. The same rule applies to comedy, especially when you have five comedians vying for the camera’s attention.
Most scenes in Grown Ups morph into an extended insult session, what Gabe Kaplan of Welcome Back Kotter fame used to call ranking. This comedic meeting of the minds should ideally produce some classic moments, but the jokes tend to focus more on Kevin James’ waistline and the age of Rob Schneider’s latest wife.
Sandler and Dugan, who has directed almost the entire cast in other movies, throw in some stereotypical, heartwarming moments as well. About halfway through the film, Dugan shifts gears from outrageous comedy to moments of redemption. There’s no doubt that Grown Ups is going to end on a high note, but it is a long, painful and bumpy ride to get to that point.
Grown Ups, rated PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity, currently is playing in theaters.