FILM REVIEW: Grown Ups

by | Jun 25, 2010 | FILM & TV

There are many things that go into making an enjoyable comedy. One of the most important is good chemistry between the lead actors. This is something that Grown Ups, the new Adam Sandler comedy has in spades. This is achieved in a rather simple way. The lead actors playing a group of friends are, in fact, all friends in real life. Sandler teams with his actual buddies Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider to make a very light-hearted, well-meaning comedy. Unfortunately, when Adam Sandler sat down to write the film, he apparently was unable to come up with very many different scenarios to place his friends in. As a result, much of the film follows the guys as they just sit around shooting the breeze. It is not half as much fun to watch as it probably was to make.

There is not much of a story here. The five guys were all on the same championship basketball team when they were in middle school, and they have all gotten back together 30 years later to attend the funeral of their old coach who has passed away. Sander’s character is a successful Hollywood agent, and he arranges for all the guys and their families to spend the fourth of July weekend at a lake house where they used to hang out as teenagers.

There are many things that go into making an enjoyable comedy. One of the most important is good chemistry between the lead actors. This is something that Grown Ups, the new Adam Sandler comedy has in spades. This is achieved in a rather simple way. The lead actors playing a group of friends are, in fact, all friends in real life. Sandler teams with his actual buddies Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider to make a very light-hearted, well-meaning comedy. Unfortunately, when Adam Sandler sat down to write the film, he apparently was unable to come up with very many different scenarios to place his friends in. As a result, much of the film follows the guys as they just sit around shooting the breeze. It is not half as much fun to watch as it probably was to make.

There is not much of a story here. The five guys were all on the same championship basketball team when they were in middle school, and they have all gotten back together 30 years later to attend the funeral of their old coach who has passed away. Sander’s character is a successful Hollywood agent, and he arranges for all the guys and their families to spend the fourth of July weekend at a lake house where they used to hang out as teenagers.

That is all there is to it. The plot only goes to the extent of explaining why they are all in the same house, and then it cuts everyone loose. There are sub-plots, to be sure. Sandler attempts to hide his success from his buddies, each of the guys has some issue with his respective wife and kids, and their old rival basketball team from when they were twelve shows up to challenge them to a rematch. None of this makes up for the total lack of a main story arc, though. There is an attempt towards the end of the film to tie everything together with a speech about life, love and friendship, but, though it is a very nice moment, it also comes too little and too late to take the place of a plot.

There is a silver lining to the weak story writing in the film. The stars are, after all, a group of comedians, and with so much time spent focusing on them hanging out and conversing with each other, there are plenty of funny jokes and wisecracks to be had. All five of them are clearly comfortable with each other and having a good time, and the feeling is often contagious. It would be no surprise to find with the DVD release in a few months that there were hundreds of quips and one-liners that were cut out. Maybe we will also be treated to a few Chris Rock gems, as he is woefully underused throughout the movie.

Grown Ups does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of getting together with a bunch of old friends. It is fun to watch them hang out for a while. With little else for the group to do, though, things become fairly boring well before the end of the film. This is a rare case when the theater is not the optimal environment for seeing a movie. It will likely be much more enjoyable once it has been released on DVD, and you can kick back on a couch with some friends to watch it. Perhaps that is what Adam Sandler was going for all along.

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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