What It Is
On Fourth of July weekend, five childhood friends are attending a funeral. Oh wait, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Let’s start again: five childhood friends use the passing of their beloved middle school basketball coach as a reason to reunite and remember his advice, that they “play the game of life the same way” they played their big championship victory. That way, he urges them back in 1978, “when the final buzzer of life goes off, you’ll have no regrets.”
Alas, as Grown Ups, this crew has lots of regrets. Wealthy Hollywood agent Lenny (Adam Sandler), married to fashion designer Roxanne (Salma Hayek), works too hard and worries that his three kids play too many videogames and take advantage of their subservient nanny Rita (Di Quon) (even as he also takes advantage of her). Eric (Kevin James) and his wife Sally (Maria Bello) are also having trouble parenting: their daughter is depressed and their four-year-old son is still breastfeeding. Kurt (Chris Rock) stays home with the kids, while his executive wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph), along with her flatulent, grumpy mother Mama Ronzoni (Ebony Jo-Ann), resent his interest in cooking. Elvis-wig-wearing Rob (Rob Schneider) has two failed marriages and estranged kids, and currently dotes on his much older wife Gloria (Joyce Van Patten). And Marcus (David Spade) is a catty, womanizing drunk.
This discontented lot gathers for a post-funeral weekend at a lake house in “New England,” where they supposedly re-learn coach’s lessons. Apparently, the most important thing is to play outside: the families all swim, skip stones, go canoeing and water-sliding. The men also spend a good deal of time drinking beers and mocking one another’s body-shapes, bodily functions, hairstyles, and families. They lie to their wives and each other, figure out it’s a bad idea to do so, and vow never to do it again.
Almost incidentally, they also play an oddly anti-climactic game of basketball with the same team they beat in 1978, whose members are still angry over their loss three decades ago. Their appearance suggests a feeble contrast with Lenny and his pals, lapsed into a collective carelessness. The problem is, you don’t feel like rooting for either team.
Why It’s Fun
Ouch ouch ouch: none of this is much fun.
The fart jokes (all at Mama Ronzoni’s expense) are predictable, and the incessant “boobie” jokes (see below) are more offensive than clever. If you’ve seen other movies made by Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, you know what to expect: childish men behaving badly.
Their antics include making jokes about Eric’s difficulty peeing, Rob’s “ugly” daughter (Ashley Loren, outfitted to look like Schneider), and a dog with its vocal chords cut (so it sounds “like a turkey”). They take time out to pee in a water park pool, and make s’mores. Mostly, they seem hard-pressed to remember exactly how they had fun as kids.
Who’s Going To Love It
The movie appears to have no actual script, only a vague agreement among the principals to make fun of each other again and again and again. This involves a lot of sitting around and indulging in a kind of slow-motion shtick.
What To Be Aware Of
Where to start? Though it’s a PG-13 movie with a cast full of kids under or about 13, the gags are most often aimed at Sandler’s usual fans. Some are violent (characters falling, crashing, and hurting themselves: Steve Buscemi ends up in a body cast).
Several of these are occasioned by the men’s drinking, several involve replaying the song “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” and too many are overtly sexist.
These include much ogling of Sally’s breastfeeding and milk-pumping (one sight gag has the milk spurting on someone’s horrified face and another has a hung-over Marcus waking with the pump attached to his nipple, remembering vaguely that he dreamed about a “beautiful blond,” who appears to be the dog). In addition, the trip to the water park leads to repeated close-ups of girls in bikinis (Sally pole-dancing on an umbrella as well as Rob’s two “pretty” daughters’ bottoms).
The breast-related alternate between gross-out reactions (some very mean versions repeatedly aimed at Gloria’s age) and sexual innuendoes. These constitute a low-grade, sometimes obscure verbal humor (one hard-bodied fellow accuses the wives of being “hose-teasers”).
Other language is scattered and mild, including the s-word (and its variation, “shiz-nit”), “ass” (and one variation, “fine-assed”), “damn,” “bitch,” and “hell.”
The film also features prominent junk food product placements, including KFC and Coke.
1 out of 10
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Maria Bello, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph
Studio: Columbia Pictures
US Premiere: June 25, 2010
UK Premiere: August 6, 2010