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Monday, March 28, 2011

A Little-Late Film Review: Grown Ups (2010)

Dennis Dugan has brought us some of the most notoriously terrible films of the last twenty years. Often working with Adam Sandler, he directed some of the worst from the former SNL cast member. He is also responsible for such garbage as Problem Child, National Security and Saving Silverman. I hate Dennis Dugan’s movies. Hate, hate, hate them! Therefore, I went into Grown Ups expecting to be enraged and energized, ready to blast this film in a review. Little did I know that Grown Ups could be the best movie Dennis Dugan has ever done. Now don’t get too excited, given his track record, that isn’t saying much. Grown Ups is still a piece of crap.

After the death of their childhood mentor, a basketball coach, a group of friends meet up at the funeral, and decide to spend the weekend together with their families at a cabin in the woods. (Yep. That’s the plot.) The friends (played by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider) bring their families with them and they engage in the typical shtick you would see in a comedy that takes place mostly in the woods. There are pratfalls, scatological humor, some unfunny innuendo and kids that say and do things kids don’t normally do. A lot of that crap.

Most comedies have a formula. The good ones will open with a few gags then settle down just for a few minutes so we can be moved into the plot. Not Grown Ups. Grown Ups is obnoxious from the first five minutes. The characters reveal themselves as immature, self-absorbed and asinine as they present their various personality traits at their coach‘s funeral, turning a memorial service for their beloved coach into a night at the Improv. This scene does what I think it’s supposed to do. Reveal these characters to us. They are not so much revealed, though, as they are exposed. This scene seems to be much longer than it should be, and it has zero laughs. It is a poorly conceived attempt to make us feel like we know these characters, and that they know each other.

Now, I did say it may be the best film of Dennis Dugan’s career, and there are a couple things that elevate this one above the previous films in his septic tank of a repertoire. First, Adam Sandler speaks like an adult male here, not shouting, stuttering, slurring, shrieking or squealing his way through his lines; that is one improvement (I know Sandler has spoken like a normal human being in other films, but not so much under Dugan). Also, David Spade is not quite as obnoxious here as he has been before; a plus. Then there’s the other, smaller roles from lesser SNL stars like Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn that are okay, but these stars aren’t really given much to do here.

Okay, so I’m really ending things here. I don’t want to recall anymore of this movie. I will not dwell on the lame gags at the water park, or the poorly-directed basketball match between the protagonists and a group of adult bullies, or the shallow and useless female characters, or the poor child-actors, or the sloppy editing, or any of the other elements of this film I hated. I also will not harp on the five leads exchanging crude and immature insults, laughing at each other and themselves. We could just tell they had a lot of fun while on the set of this movie. Well, I didn’t have fun.

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