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June 26, 2010
Review - " Grown Ups "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Grown Ups
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, kevin james, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob
Schneider, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Salma Hayek, Joyce Van

Growing older doesn't always mean growing up.

Grown Ups isn't smart, snappy or meant for grown ups with a mature
sense of humor. It's not particularly well-written (I'm not sure how
much of the script actually wound up on screen as this group prefers
ad-libbing). Grown Ups is juvenile and sloppy, but for families looking
for a leave-your-brain-at-the-door popcorn film, it fits the bill. It's a
goofy summer movie, quickly forgotten but fun enough while it lasts. If
you could grab four friends, head out to a movie set, screw around for
a month and get paid pretty well to act like a kid again, you'd probably
jump at the opportunity - and that's what Adam Sandler did with
Grown Ups. Sandler gathered his old Saturday Night Live gang, and
his I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry co-star Kevin James, set
his friend and frequent collaborator Dennis Dugan behind the
camera, and made a throw-back Sandler-ish comedy (meaning
childish but with heart and an 'important lesson' somewhere in the
mix). Sandler returns to the brand of comedy that made him a
powerhouse on the big screen in the late '90s/early 2000s, and  
Grown Ups generates enough laughs to entertain. It certainly looks as
if Adam Sandler and his old Saturday Night Live pals had a blast
making Grown Ups. At times it feels a lot like a bunch of stand-up
comics just riffing off each other, which - I'm guessing - is exactly what
it is.
The death of their junior high basketball coach provides the impetus for a reunion of the five principals of the team - Lenny
(Adam Sandler), Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (David Spade), and Rob (Rob Schneider) - some 30 years
after they won a championship game. Now, each is encumbered with baggage. Lenny, a big-time Hollywood agent, is
married to fashionista Roxanne (Salma Hayek) and has three spoiled kids. Eric is unemployed and his wife, Sally (Maria
Bello), believes in breast-feeding past birthday #4. Kurt has become a house-husband and is dominated by his Type A wife,
Deanne (Maya Rudolph). Rob has allowed his fetish for older women to take reign; his wife, Gloria (Joyce Van Patten), is in
her mid-70s. And Marcus has never really grown up - he's single and loves to party, and that makes him the envy of his

The "action" takes place at a posh lake house where these nine adults and their offspring gather for a Fourth of July
weekend that includes lessons about what to do when there's no flat-screen TV and a trip to a water park. Grown Ups has a
loose, unforced structure that gives the illusion of a bunch of comrades hanging out. Even the climax, to the extent that
there is one, is low-key. There's an improvisational feeling to a lot of the comedy, indicating that even though Adam Sandler
and Fred Wolf are the credited screenwriters, there were likely significant contributions by at least the male cast members,
all of whom are known as (if not always respected as) comedians. Freed from the constraints of having to follow the beats of
a lame plot, they are allowed to hang out and joke around - and that's where most of the successful comedy is born. There
are some great one liners, some really silly physical humor, and the obligatory body function jokes, but the ratio of
hits-to-misses is surprisingly high.

As is appropriate for a film entitled Grown Ups,
Adam Sandler has assumed a more moderate,
mature role. Only hints of the oversized,
petulant man-child are evident in Lenny; this is
the kind of individual one might imagine Happy
Gilmore or Billy Madison becoming in middle
age. Sandler also shows generosity here,
giving most of the best comedic bits to Kevin
James (physical pratfalls) and Chris Rock
(verbal material and facial expressions). David
Spade, often as irritating as pepper spray, is
almost palatable and Rob Schneider, one of
the most unfunny individuals to be branded as
a "comedian," garners laughs (most of which
are mean-spirited). The women are underused,
but that's to be expected. Grown Ups is for the
guys. This is their The Big Chill.

One aspect that fails are the attempts at
message moments and dramatic interludes
(the importance of family, the difficulties of growing older, etc.). Perhaps Sandler and Dugan are attempting to mimic Judd
Apatow's approach to comedies: raunchy humor wrapped around a soft center. If that's the case, the filmmakers have made
this center too gooey. Fortunately, Grown Ups never dwells much on the serious material, instead moving quickly to the next
comedy skit. The result falls short of a complete meal but provides an easily digestible 100-minute massage of the funny

The Bottom Line Grown Ups hits on the staples of Sandler's early comedies, covering well the three Ps of his joke
repertoire: poop, pee, and penis. Throw in a running gag about a four year old still breastfeeding, a dog that sounds like a
turkey, and Schneider's ridiculous toupee, and it's a typical Sandler comedy aiming for cheap, easy laughs. Grown Ups
knows its target audience and blows through one-liner after one-liner hoping for more hits than misses. Does it work? Yes, if
you like Sandler, aren't looking for smart
comedy, and can handle the film's low-brow
humor. The audience I saw it  with was
made up of all ages, and they gave it a
solid round of applause at the end. You
know, it's all a matter of taste. I find Sandler
funny (even the totally juvenile Sandler),
and quite a few of the one-liners made me
actually laugh out loud. It's a good summer
comedy - nothing more. The plot's
incredibly simple, the jokes aim for the
lowest common denominator, and there are
so many characters, there's absolutely no
time for any actual development of any of
them. Still, No one in their right mind goes
to an Adam Sandler movie for any reason
other than to laugh, and Grown Ups
delivers. I laughed, and that was all I was
looking to get out of Grown Ups.