Grown Ups 2Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 07/12/13 13:48:31
There are many things that I may have expected to encounter during the course of the new Adam Sandler epic "Grown Ups 2""--extremely broad slapstick humor, vivid depictions of all the known bodily functions (not to several heretofore unknown variations), awkwardly placed moments of cheap sentiment, Salma Hayek's cleavage, a soundtrack crammed with familiar 80's-era jams and a supporting cast crammed with Sandler's buddies and a couple of babes hoping to use this as a springboard to or from the pages of "Maxim" among them. However, I must say that of all the possibilities I could have dreamed up, I probably would not have come up with the sight of Norm Crosby shuffling onto the screen at one point to deliver one of the film's numerous poop-related punchlines. And with that revelation, I have revealed the only aspect of this unbelievably lazy movie that could have possibly required a "Spoiler Alert."For this sequel to his shockingly successful 2010 comedy, the first of his career,, we are privileged to follow Sandler, along with pals Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade, over the course of one long day--the kind of typical day that starts off with a deer making its way into his bedroom (luckily, the deer knows it is in an Adam Sandler movie and immediately rears up on two legs so as to better pee directly into his face), continues on with the discovery that his wife (Salma Hayek) wants another baby, finds him facing off with the members of a loutish college fraternity led by Taylor Lautner, shattering his young son's leg during a football lesson and ends with him spontaneously throwing an 80's-themed party in his yard with seemingly the entire town in attendance and presented with a level of opulence that Robert Evans might have found a bit much.
Meanwhile, Rock is secretly delighted that his wife (Maya Rudolph) has forgotten their anniversary, Spade is meeting his hulkish son (Alexander Ludwig) for the first time, James sneaks away from his wife (Maria Bello) to hang out with his mom (Georgia Engel), a couple of kids develop crushes, a little girl almost loses her precious stuffed toy and the J. Geils Band turn up for a song or two. Just so you don't think that Sandler & Co. are just making stuff up as they go along, they bring closure to the proceedings in the only way they know how--by bringing back the deer from the beginning to apparently bite off Lautner's junk in what I can only assume is an exceptionally odd homage to the infinitely funnier "Antichrist." Oh yeah, Shaquille O'Neal turns up for a couple of scenes and demonstrates that if he is still using the same acting instrument that he utilized in "Kazaam," he apparently hasn't emptied the spit valve in the last decade.
Admittedly, the films that Adam Sandler does with his pals have never been known for their dry wit and story structure but the screenplay that he has helped concoct here is stunningly slipshod--I have seen films from Troma with more narrative cohesion than this and with better poop jokes to boot. Storylines are introduced and abandoned with impunity, new characters are likewise jammed into the proceedings whenever another name from Sandler's datebook could spare a couple of hours for filming and the humor veers wildly and uncomfortably between the usual frat boy hijinks and stuff aimed squarely at little kids. If I had to guess, I suspect that the idea was to replicate one of those odd "Simpsons" episodes that goes off into all directions in order to juggle as many characters and situations as it can but unfortunately, it seems to be trying to replicate the ones from Season 17 on). The events are so random, haphazard and unconnected that it seems to have be written specifically for people who like to go to movies and then spend the entire time texting. The tragedy is that those texts and tweets probably have more wit and cohesion than anything seen here.
Look, I don't necessarily mind the fact that Sandler likes to surround himself with his pals when he decides to make a movie--I am sure that if I were in that rarefied position, I would do the same with all the parts not already filled with Eurobabes and the like. What I do object to is that he seems unwilling to put forth the minimal amount of effort needed to put together an actual movie, much less a good one. Paying for Sandler to take lavish and well-appointed with their ticket money is one thing but my guess is that most audience members might draw the line at paying to watch the home movies as well. Self-indulgent cinematic grab-assing is not always a bad thing, as we learned earlier this summer with the surprisingly effective "This is the End" but this film takes that to heretofore unimaginable levels. The whole thing is so dreadful and so off-putting that I am already eagerly anticipating Armond White's review declaring it a modern comedic masterpiece that the media is just to square to fully understand (perhaps with a bonus Morrissey reference if space permits
The best thing that one can say about "Grown Ups 2" is that it is slightly better than Sandler's last couple of movies but that says less about its intrinsic qualities than it does about the sheer loathsomeness of the likes of "Jack & Jill" and "That's My Boy." Other than that, what positive things did I somehow manage to take away from the experience of watching it? Well, as far as I can recall, I got one funny line (an Eminem joke by Rock that must have been improvised), a few spectacular displays of cleavage from Hayek and it did my heart a little bit of good to hear a few bars of the Warren Zevon classic "Werewolves of London" on the soundtrack (a slight comedown from its appearance in "The Color of Money").Most of all, I came away from this film with a new-found respect for none other than Rob Schneider, who appeared in the first film and yet is nowhere to be seen or even referenced this time around. Since there is no reason for his character to be absent, I can only assume that he was offered a role and declined it for whatever reason. Yes, "Grown Ups 2" is a film so bad that even Rob Schneider, who I am sure would admit has been in a few movies of suspect quality over the years, had better things to do than turn up for it. Trust me, so do you.
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