Here’s the thing about ‘Grown Ups.’ Yes, it’s poorly crafted — hardly any plot to speak of — and is quite silly and gross in parts (as expected, several done-to-death gags on various bodily functions, plus a running joke on breast-feeding). But it’s just so good-natured and its leads are just having so much fun together that it’s impossible to actively dislike it.
It’s really not worth going into the story (such as it is). Suffice to say that five friends reunite after 30 years at their high school basketball coach’s funeral and spend the weekend of July 4 at a lake house with their families. None of the rest matters. Because this flick is just about putting together the ex-Saturday Night Live gang of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade — with the addition of the loveably goofy Kevin James — and letting them have a ball.
The camaraderie between the guys is obvious. From the moment the five meet up on screen, they basically pick on each other mercilessly. The jokes are sometimes mean, sometimes lame, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and most often seem like they were ad-libbed on the spot or are in-jokes among the guys. You can just see they’re enjoying themselves, and that’s infectious.
It also has some genuinely hilarious bits — Rock as a tantrum-throwing house husband, and Schneider as a super-sensitive new age sop with a flapping toupee are just inspired choices. And like most Sandler comedies, the movie has at its core a sweet message. This time it’s about those good old-fashioned childhood pastimes — playing out there in the sun and splashing about in a lake — that are being forgotten in our world of video games and designer clothes for 12 year olds.
Amazingly, the ladies aren’t completely forgotten in this boys’ reunion — they do tend to take second place and disappear off screen for long bits, but we actually get to see them having fun together. Sandler’s super-successful fashion designer wife, played by Salma Hayek, is possibly the most real character in the movie. Hayek brings depth to her role (not to mention oomph); she almost seems too good to be part of this crew.
Of course, all the ‘issues’ in each family (never particularly well-explored except in Hayek and Sandler’s case) are simplistically resolved in a single scene. And then the movie limps to its good-natured end. But with its beautiful backdrop of Maine and its essential harmlessness, it’s hard to be mad at this breezy summer flick.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Salma Hayek.
Storyline: Five friends reunite for the 4th of July weekend after their high school coach passes away.
Bottomline: A feel-good flick that’s good for a few laughs.