DVD Review: Grown Ups is about as chuckle-headed, PG-13 crude, and un-PC as you’d expect. But thanks to my weakness for ’70s tunes, childhood nostalgia, and Adam Sandler, I found its lowbrow moronic behavior amusing… even comforting… Okay, okay… I laughed out loud. A lot.
Celebrating the perpetual adolescence of not just its characters but its performers, Grown Ups is Adam Sandler getting his pals together for a potty humored, dim-bulb goof on their own life experiences. Supposedly adult guys who look at their families with bafflement: Is this my beautiful wife? Are these my beautiful children? How did I get here?
I have a ginormous soft (-headed) spot for Sandler: I appreciate it when he shows his range in loftier acting projects, but danged if I don’t just like the guy and giggle at even his stupidest cinematic efforts. Sandler’s head may sometimes be in the gutter, but his heart always feels like it’s in the right place.
Here Sandler’s rounded up his SNL chums Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schnieder (Red West to Sandler’s Elvis), and his new movie cohort Kevin James to basically play themselves as childhood pals reuniting at a lake house for a Fourth of July weekend with their families.
Most of the rest is relentless mockery of each other’s shortcomings, bodily function jokes, several shamelessly low-brow and gross-out running gags, fat guys smacking into things and falling down, and of course kicks to the groin.
The adolescent family tone is not as gloriously R-rated raunchy as Don’t Mess with the Zohan, but nor is it as 100% family safe as Bedtime Stories. Regular Happy Madison director Dennis Dugan is a pleasing comedy hack who knows how best to make a sow’s ear into, well, a stupidly enjoyable sow’s ear.
Sandler, Rock, and James are the big-hitters, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of Schneider’s obvious riding of Sandler’s coattails even if it means putting up with his mugging. And Spade gets a few choice drop-ins, though just looking at his Joe Dirty shag head makes you feel itchy all over.
Long-time Sandler pals like Colin Quinn and Steve Buscemi swing by (literally in Buscemi’s case), and all the ladies, including Selma Hayek and Maya Rudolph, step up to fill out roles that are mostly one-joke afterthoughts to the boys’ good time. (Maria Bello and Joyce Van Patten do especially brave duty, gamely playing out the movie’s crudest juvenile jokes.)
Like most of us, Sandler’s characters constantly strive to be more open-minded and tolerant. His Happy Madison movies pride themselves on eventually winding up sensitive and caring—but only after their regular-Joes have worked out their issues with a parade of cheap, easy jokes.
(The sons in Grown Ups are rascally chips off their old blocks, but the daughters are either pre-teen cherubs, butt-of-the-joke ugly, or model-hot co-eds. Girls remain a scary mystery to the Sandler crowd.)
I laughed at a lot of lowbrow stuff in Grown Ups (yep, even at the hilariously irresponsible “Arrow Roulette”), and groaned and grimaced as well. The movie’s an excuse for Sandler and his buddies to sit around and crack each other up, but I was right there with them most of the dumb-ass time.
More PG/PG-13 fun with friends and relatives at redbox:
- Date Night on DVD and Blu-ray (read my full review)
- Why Did I Get Married, Too? on DVD and Blu-ray
- Couples Retreat
- City Island (read my full review)
- Old Dogs
- The Spy Next Door
- Our Family Wedding