Middle-aged pals make plenty of mischief but few belly laughs in GROWN UPS 2
The latest batch of Adam Sandler approved, family friendly gross out gags include a deer that sprays pee on everyone, Kevin James’ buddy character delivering a combination sneeze, burp and fart as well as families gathered around a neighborhood dairy stand watching soft serve ice cream appears to stream out of a man’s butt.
Basically, in Grown Ups 2, the connect-the-dots sequel to Sandler’s 2010 family comedy, there’s not a single gag that doesn’t involve bodily discomfort. The laugh variety throughout the movie revolves around the different levels of stink (vomit, farting, pee) and pain (broken leg, kicks to the head, deer antlers to the groin).
Most of the popular wives and husbands of Grown Ups reunite to unload slapstick gags and sarcastic chatter (again) for a sequel that delivers on everything it promises. Grown Ups 2 may be fan-friendly mayhem void of originality and good storytelling but it stuffs plenty of slapstick into its zippy tale of showbiz exec Lenny Feder (Sandler) leaving Los Angeles to move with his wife (Salma Hayek) and kids back to his New England hometown and reunite with his childhood pals Eric (James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Marcus (David Spade).
Tim Herlihy co-writes the script with Sandler and Fred Wolf and they all seem to be on the same page with regards to piling as many fart jokes as possible into the movie.
Dennis Dugan directs Sandler for the eighth time and I have to admit I’m hard pressed to choose my favorite Sandler/Dugan movie. They’re all so blah.
Still, there are a couple of double-take moments in the movie including a strange climax with Lenny and his buddies beating up a college frat boy (Taylor Lautner of The Twilight Saga) and his fraternity pals. Since when did grown men beating up teens become funny?
To its credit, the comedy sequel boasts the largest Saturday Night Live (SNL) alumni ensemble imaginable including Sandler, Spade, Rock, Maya Ridolph, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Cheri Oteri and Colin Quinn as well as cameo appearances by Will Forte, Bobby Moynihan, Andy Samberg and Taran Killam.
Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal shows an impressive knack for slapstick gags as a small town cop and earns some forgiveness for his silly role as a genie in Kazaam.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Sandler and Dugan do not set out to please critics. They make word-of-mouth comedies for mainstream audiences looking for lowbrow humor and easy laughs. Sandler and his mischief-makers deliver, and then some, and then some more, just squishier. It’s hard to argue with giving people what they want. Still, wouldn’t it be a better world if all gross-out comedies were as clever as This Is the End with James Franco and Seth Rogen. Really, Sandler and Dugan could learn something from Franco and Rogen. Maybe collaboration is in order.
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Chris Rock, David Spade, Tim Meadows
Screenwriter: Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf and Tim Herlihy
Director: Dennis Dugan
Composer: Lyle Workman
Cinematographer: Terry Stacey
Producers: Mandeville Films, Relativity Media, Skyland Entertainment and Virgin Produced
Running time: 93 minutes
Release Date: July 12, 2013