There’s actually not a whole lot to say about Grown Ups. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Five guys get together after thirty years to reunite following the death of a beloved youth basketball coach, talk about old times, crack jokes on one another, and introduce their families to the kind of fun they had back in the day at a gorgeous lake house somewhere in New England.
The draw of Grown Ups isn’t the story (this isn’t The Hangover, after all), but the stars. It’s a mini-reunion of SNL‘s glory days of the mid-90’s, with Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider all taking major roles. There’s also Happy Madison veteran Kevin James filling out the roster, no doubt as the Chris Farley replacement. (Also on tap are Maya Rudolph, Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Meadows, to further add to the SNL/Happy Madison favorites list.) Basically, you’re already on board with this movie, or you’re kind of resistant.
Strangely enough, it’s actually not bad. While it’s nothing groundbreaking and there’s generally not a ton of plot or growth or anything of that nature, Grown Ups is fairly funny thanks to the chemistry of the leads. Given that they’re all well-known comedians, there’s a lot of great comic chemistry between them, and some of the funniest segments of the movie are simply the five men hanging out, cracking jokes on one another. There’s also the occasional gross-out moment, and some physical comedy, but overall, it’s more about the guys than the wacky situations that they find themselves involved in.
The script of Grown Ups, from Adam Sandler and David Spade vehicle-writer Fred Wolf (Dickie Roberts, Joe Dirt, Black Sheep) is kind of like a combination of the standard work those two do. There’s lots of funny moments, some jokes that never work, and some outlandish stuff for Rob Schneider to do (he’s basically the straight man for this movie despite playing some kind of weird vaguely new-age guy). There are some dull moments, and there’s some tacked-on pseudo-growth for the main characters to undergo, but basically, this is a comedy about families, friendship, kids, and aging, respectively.
The film moves along fairly nicely, thanks to direction from industry veteran Dennis Dugan. He’s not exactly an auteur, so there’s no sweeping camera movements or anything more drastic than what you’d see on standard television. However, the pacing is nice and, aside from a seemingly unnecessary little event at the end of the film (after the logical wrapping-up speech), the movie moves nicely, the visual jokes work, and the flick doesn’t ever get too bogged down in family melodrama stuff. It starts, you laugh, and it’s gone. You really can’t ask for much more than that from a big summer comedy sold on star power.
Grown Ups doesn’t break any new ground, but it is funny. It’s not a laugh riot, but there’s more than enough chuckles and snorts to carry the movie, even if it falls a bit short on guffaws or belly laughs. It’s not special, but when you’re teaming up this many funny folks in a comedy, you don’t really need anything special or groundbreaking. All you have to do is let them be funny and keep the camera from falling over.
US correspondent Ron Hogan is refreshed by the fact that Adam Sandler chose to do a comedy with no gimmicks, rather than his usual fare. Hooray for slight improvements! Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi, and at his blog, Subtle Bluntness.