Grown Ups is a movie full of funny, likable people. And Rob Schneider is in it too! I kid, I kid, but Grown Ups is the kind of movie that gets by on the charisma of its actors. This isn’t necessarily a bad quality, and a lot of people are going to have a fun time at Grown Ups. For me, however, I had a few good laughs and no strong desire to see this movie ever again.
In Grown Ups, five childhood friends are reunited when their basketball coach and mentor Bobby “Buzzer” Ferdinando (Blake Clark) dies. Lenny (Adam Sandler) is a wealthy Hollywood agent whose wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek) is wrapped up in her fashion design career and their children are turning into spoiled Hollywood brats complete with an ever-patient nanny (Di Quon). Eric (Kevin James) and his wife Sally (Maria Bello) have difficulty telling their children no, especially their 4-year-old son who is still breast feeding. Kurt (Chris Rock) is a stay home dad struggling to make Rachael Ray dinners while his wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph) brings home the big bucks. Marcus (David Spade) is the perpetual bachelor who only wants to get wasted and get laid. Finally, Rob (Rob Schneider) plays the odd duck of the bunch that has a fetish for older women, and his most recent wife Gloria (Joyce Van Patten) shares his enthusiasm for vegan cuisine and maize rubs.
On a superficial note, I loved the cabin and the water park in this movie. I have to admit that these scenes did make me feel nostalgic for the days when summer meant months of carefree vacation. I wanted to climb through the screen and swing on a tire or swim in a cool lake. Even when the laughs weren’t working for me, I still enjoyed living vicariously through these lucky people.
There are so many characters in Grown Ups that I had trouble remembering their names, with the exception of Rob Schneider, who's playing a character named, umm, Rob. Instead of developing their characters, they all play their usual roles. Adam Sandler is the funny dad who needs to bond with his kids. Kevin James is the funny dad who needs to lose some weight. Chris Rock yells a lot about Rachael Ray and flirts with the hot nanny. David Spade plays almost the exact same character he plays on Rules of Engagement, and Rob Schneider plays a weird guy who has moments that range from funny to painfully awkward. There aren’t a lot of distinguishing characteristics between the wives either, with the exception of Roxanne, the ice queen who thaws after a weekend at the cabin. Still, even Salma Hayek cannot make much of the shallow character given to her.
The good news is that for the most part, Grown Ups isn’t a movie that requires lots of character development. For most of the movie, the actors are content to sit around and make fun of each other, leading to some very funny one-liners. People who pay to see Grown Ups will want to see Sandler, James, Rock, Spade, and Schneider playing the parts that they usually play, and the plot is really just an excuse to get these actors to the next situation.
There are a few scenes in Grown Ups that work surprisingly well and a few that don't work well at all. When the guys scatter Buzzer’s ashes, I laughed when Rob Schneider reached his ash-covered hands into a bucket of chicken, and I laughed even harder when Kevin James decided to eat the chicken anyways. I appreciate that morbid sense of humor, and I wish there had been more of it. What weighs the movie down in the last part is the need to push in a serious scene where everyone airs their grievances with each other down at the dock and then goes in for a giant group hug. This scene is so out of place with the rest of the movie that I get the feeling the writers got lazier with the script as they went along and decided to take care of all the unresolved character issues in one scene. They might have been time efficient by including the scene, but it damages the flow and light-hearted nature of the film.
Grown Ups is a better movie than I expected, but I still cannot recommend it very highly. Fans of Sandler, James, Rock, Spade, and Schneider will get some good laughs but that’s about all.
"Grown Ups" opens June 25, 2010 and is rated PG13. Children & Family, Comedy. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Written by Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf. Starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Joyce Van Patten, Kevin James, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek.