Movie Review: Grown Ups- A Thoroughly Unengaging and Repetitive Comedy Attempting a Blatant Delivery of Irony Within its Title

Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison has set out to follow his own established 90s formula of comedy, mixing in physical scenarios, gross out humor, and witty one liners that used to work when it didn’t get so tiresomely repetitive. It’s safe to say that after Little Nicky and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan everything Sandler was doing with comedy got pretty familiar. Digressing from his low standard and doing more difficult roles, such as his fine performances in Punch Drunk Love and Funny People, it seemed Sandler was on his way to growing up and moving beyond the immature and tiresome humor that made him famous. However, it appears that Grown Ups, as though the title of Sandler’s new film was intended to be ironic, is a voyage back in time attempting to rekindle those years of adolescent dirty humor with only a few successful deliveries. When the film’s main attraction is five aging comedians trying to top each other with witty comebacks in relation to each other’s looks then the film already is doomed as it falls back on cheap gags, physical stunts, and gross out moments that just resembles not only every comedy Sandler has done, but also every comedy that comes in the theaters every three months. More of the same is not what we need when it comes to comedy, but the movie going public will certainly see to it that this sort of self-indulgent film will earn a decent amount of money. Perhaps this is too harsh considering that there are minor moments of laughter, but in the end most of Grown Ups falls flat or the material is stretched too often leaving you rather unsatisfied when considering the potential all of the main characters can deliver (that is, excluding the horrid work of Rob Schneider).

The story of Grown Ups, which is essentially a study of five characters in their time and place years later after an apparently defining basketball game in their life, is quite underwhelming. After their coach dies, a man they all cared for a great deal yet never visited, the five boys make their way back to the old stomping grounds where they experience each other’s families and find out more about each other’s lives. The leader of the estranged group, Larry (Adam Sandler), is a movie agent that can’t even brush the realism and eccentricity that Jeremy Piven possesses in “Entourage,” who is married to a beautiful fashion designer (Salma Hayek) and has two very spoiled sons and an unbelievably sweet daughter. Then there is Eric (Kevin James) basically throwing his weight around (literally) who also has two dysfunctional kids and a beautiful wife (Maria Bello) set on still breast feeding her son at the age of 48 months (that’s four for those not counting). Kurt (Chris Rock) is a walking paradox exuding feminine qualities while also having the Chris Rock bravado to use against his undermining pregnant wife (Maya Rudolph) and judgmental mother-in-law. The player and unhitched man of the group, Marcus (David Spade), is appropriately inappropriate as he gives all the children poor advice and gets drunk a bit too often. Then there’s the black sheep of the group, Rob (Rob Schneider), who is married to a much older woman and practices some form of vegan, hippy healing secularism. All of the five characters are merely just a representation of the actor’s familiar personalities and in the end doesn’t engage you as much as a film with actual defined characters would have been able to do. This fact, along with the lazy writing and delivery of most of the film’s jokes, ultimately make Grown Ups a below average comedy and an even worse film.

Again and again it sees every Hollywood produced comedy is initially concocted around the idea of who they can cast in the roles, rather than what makes a good and original comedy. Of course, each of these Saturday Night Live alumni, and a “King of Queens” star, possess personality and it works for a good deal of the beginning of Grown Ups. However, once the film starts progressing there is a realization that the jokes are simply lazy, falling back on easy laughs instead of flourishing out well intentioned and designed delivery. Instead these five known comedians just stick with what they know best and that is to be who they are to our familiar consciousness. While this will satisfy a good majority of the movie going populace the unfortunate reality is it just demonstrates how limited comedy has become for enjoyment’s sake. Comedy has devolved into the mere basics of sensory entertainment. There are no more Marx Brothers, Three Stooges, Laurels or Hardy’s, Woody Allen’s, or even Zucker brothers. There is just no more eloquence, brilliance, or wit within any of today’s modern comedies, which instead fall back on physical stunts or gross out gags if the script isn’t flowing well enough to satisfy even the most remote inkling of thought provoking comedy. Grown Ups provides for simple entertainment and nothing more. This will make people laugh today but will never be referenced for tomorrow.

What modern comedies also lack is precise character introduction and development, and why Grown Ups lacks this here is due to their chosen cast. We are given the superficial introductions to each character as they utilize dialogue instead of action to put out their beliefs, perspectives, and points of view. This is just lazy script writing and extremely wasted filmmaking when you fall back on the characters telling you what’s going on rather than getting us involved. What is also uninvolving in Grown Ups is the complete lack of tension between the characters on the screen. One of the first things you learn in script writing is conflict, yet there simply isn’t any here. And if you’re one of those who doesn’t expect conflict in their comedies just turn to Blazing Saddles, which has a conflict right at the heart of its intended comedy: a black sheriff during post-civil war western frontier America. Once the introduction to any sort of tension begins on the screen it is quickly resolved within the same scene making the whole experience rather bland. There will probably be enough scenes that will make you smile, if not outright laugh, but really Grown Ups is just a waste of talent, time, and, quite simply, money.

Happy Madison productions at one point was tapped right into the cultural conscious of comedy, delivering decent low brow films that had enough charm to get you through. However, those times (which were the 90s) have passed and its time for a new wave of comedic thinking, which Grown Ups only offers more of the same. If the same is what you’re looking for then certainly Adam Sandler’s new film will mildly entertain you with gross moments, over the top but expected physical stunts, and repetitive insult gags. There just simply isn’t enough character grounding or clever script writing to make Grown Ups a memorable, let alone consistently entertaining, comedy. Sure it’s fun to be immature occasionally but there can be an intelligent way of doing it, i.e. Airplane, Young Frankenstein, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Let’s expect more of our comedies and perhaps studio execs won’t be looking to attach names to a script without making sure the script actually possesses quality writing.

Grade: C-

One Response to “Movie Review: Grown Ups- A Thoroughly Unengaging and Repetitive Comedy Attempting a Blatant Delivery of Irony Within its Title”
  1. steve scott says:

    this movie def. doesnt deserve a c- your full of crap this movie was funny and the jokes were awesome, i gues you have no taste in comedy movies these days.

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