DVD Release Date:  November 9, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  June 25, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  102 min.
Director:  Dennis Dugan
Actors:  Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows

The new Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups is the movie equivalent of a skit that airs between 12:30 and 1 a.m. on Saturday Night Live. A lot of it falls flat, but if you're in a forgiving mood, you might find yourself chuckling despite your better judgment.

The comparison is apt because Grown Ups stars several comedians from the SNL cast during the 1990s. Many of the performers have worked together before, and anyone who's watched full episodes of SNL rather than the condensed highlights knows how often the comedians struggle to make subpar sketch writing engaging. In Grown Ups, they do that for 102 minutes, and from time to time their efforts pay off.

Sure, you could pretend the film never made you smile. After all, it has a warmed-over quality that, even by the standards of mushy Adam Sandler comedies (we're talking about a guy who once made Click), feels lazily written and/or improvised by the principal characters. Nevertheless, the performers' familiarity with each other from their years of working together shows. They don't go back as far as their characters do—to their childhoods—but they really are old friends. They understand comic timing, even when the material they're delivering is beneath their comedic capabilities, and they wring it for all it's worth—which isn't much. Yet coming on the heels of a spate of Judd Apatow-produced raunchy comedies (Funny People, Year One), Grown Ups feels like a bit of a throwback. It's bawdy at times—if you go, don't take the kids—but it's not an out-and-out raunchfest.

The film, cowritten by Sandler and Fred Wolf (he wrote the forgettable Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and Joe Dirt, both starring David Spade), focuses on Lenny (Sandler), Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (Spade) and Rob (Rob Schneider). They bonded as 12-year-old basketball champions under the guidance of their coach. He guides them both on the court and off it, using the game-ending buzzer as a catchall metaphor for life lessons. "You don't want to have any regrets at the final buzzer of life," he tells the team. Years later, when coach hears the final buzzer, the former teammates gather for his funeral and spend a weekend getting reacquainted.

Lenny is married to an elite fashion designer (Salma Hayek) who'd rather be at a show in Milan than watching Lenny bond with his old pals during an extended stay in the sticks. Eric is married to a woman (Maria Bello) who still breast-feeds their four-year-old, Rob is on his fourth marriage, this time to a woman who's old enough to be his mother. Kurt does the cooking and keeps house for his wife (Maya Rudolph) while enduring the cutting comments of his mother-in-law. Marcus remains single, goading the other guys into various games of one-upmanship.

Through their few days together, the men will reconnect and somehow strengthen their marriages, even as they joke about their sundry marital problems. A bout with a team of old rivals (including Steve Buscemi and SNL alums Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn) is perfunctory but, for better or worse, gives those actors a chance to ham it up. Your willingness to endure their one-dimensional performances will depend on the goodwill you bring to the actors based on their earlier comedic work.


The fact that these performers, who could go the easy route and make hard R-rated comedies in the Apatow mold, have chosen the much more easygoing jibing and ribbing of Grown Ups reveals another dimension to the title of the film. These guys might revel in school-age antics, but they're old enough to know that not all comedy needs to start and stop below the belt. Don't expect a cerebral comedy with Grown Ups, which has more than its share of sexual humor and bodily-function jokes (see the "Cautions" section below). Indeed, don't expect much at all. A low bar is the only way you might be pleasantly surprised by this hit-and-miss comedy.


Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@verizon.net.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Lord's name taken in vain; some foul language; people are called "fugly"; scatological humor.

  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  A basketball coach jokes about a dad's "shots"—of alcohol; a discussion in front of children about being "wasted"; a woman spills beer.

  • Sex/Nudity:  A joke that a "house husband" is having his "time of the month"; a man says he has a waitress in his bed, and we see her leg protruding from under the sheets; a reference to a website that provides Asian prostitutes; a married couple hints that they plan to make love, and they touch tongues; a mother breast-feeds her four-year-old, and pumps milk for an animal at one point; she also accidentally sprays breast milk on her friends; reference to a "MILF"; Marcus walks around pantless, and his bare backside is seen; men remember their "first boob"; Eric, shown from behind, urinates while standing in a boat, and is seen by passersby in another boat; he pees on a friend; men ogle a long-legged woman in shorts as she works on a car; jokes about overhearing others having sex; women say they bought bikinis at a store called "Naughty or Nice"; pool scene includes men and women in revealing swimsuits; a joke about being touched as a child; a man in a body cast tries to touch a pregnant woman's belly, but touches her breast instead.

  • Violence/Crime:  A young basketball player blocks an opponent and knocks him to the ground; a young girl accidentally drives a car into a tree; a masseuse accidentally burns a client and himself with a hot stone; Lenny smacks Rob with dehydrated food; kids reminisce about their fathers' punishments, including a "backhand to the head" and being pushed down the stairs; "arrow roulette" leads to a foot wound; woman accidentally hits a child with a rock; a man leads children into a forbidden area of a water park; men urinate in a pool; a man on a zip line runs into a pool house; kicks to the groin area.

  • Marriage:  The men's marriages have some problems. Rob is on his fourth marriage, having earlier married "an eater, a beater and a cheater," according to friends.

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  • Religion:  The coach tells his team not to have any regrets at life's final buzzer; a young girl says she was trying to tune in heaven on a car radio; Marcus says dead moths go to hell; the coach's ashes are scattered by his former players.