Written by: Adam Sandler & Fred Wolf
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek
Every generation has its own ways of finding entertainment. As technological advances and overall access to resources change, the options for enjoyment naturally will shift. An issue every new crop of parents must confront when seeing their young ones grow up right before their eyes. An interesting thread to follow and one Grown Ups attempts to display, but its bottom-tier humor and its equally terrible and lazy storytelling hinder any sort of emotional resonance ever sought.
Long-time friends, Lenny (Adam Sandler), Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (David Spade), and Rob (Rob Schneider) have gone in different directions in life since their youth basketball days. When the death of their beloved coach arrives, the five reunite by taking their families to the same cabin they went to as kids as they reminisce and get into shenanigans.
Essentially plotless, Grown Ups undoubtedly proved to be an excuse for Sandler and his friends to get a lake vacation financed by a studio with them occasionally having to shoot some scenes in order to call this a movie. This had to be the case because whatever appeared on-screen captures the embodiment of Sandler at his worst. Abhorrently lazy jokes, meaningful story, and just an overall horrid waste of time on screen. You would think with having this much level of comedic talent brought together something would come out to be funny, but no, we just get mean-spirited jokes that rarely even land with any sort of comedic spark.
The intention behind this filmmaking remains clear but the one message it wants to run with comes from children of an older generation not having the same fun as their parents. The kids of Lenny and his friends prefer to play video games and would not go outside for more than they need to because of the lack of entertainment and air conditioning, most likely. Probably something many parents can relate to but it’s a natural part of life. What Lenny and his friends did for fun most likely received the same derision from their parents, especially with the amount of stupidly dangerous activities they engaged in. I think I would rather have my kids play video games inside more than shooting an arrow up in the air and seeing who does not move out of being fearless of it hitting you. In the end, what you’re left with here are five washed older men yelling about how their way of growing up was the best. All they needed left was a yard to yell at kids to get off of it.
Along with this generational divide, this film also tries to take on the issue of returning to one’s hometown. Not every town is created equally and the dynamic established in this feature shows the ones who moved away found success, like Lenny in Hollywood, while this friend group’s rivals stayed there as townies and essentially working at ice cream stands. A dynamic certainly exists in many small towns but the way this film attempts to resolve this issue does not quite have the resonance its finale assures it does. Almost in a pitying way of what matters to a Hollywood hotshot as compared to what these lower-class individuals need in their lives. Much like everything else in this film, it proves to be extremely misguided.
Messaging just continually gets muddles in this feature, which barely has anything to say to begin with but it cannot nail down anything of substance without the jokes to make up for it. The film wants to have a discussion about living in the moment with family yet villainizes a character for an important work meeting already agreed upon. It becomes essentially the central conflict and then gets thrown away as simply as kicking a rock. Nothing works here, like at all.
It would be one thing for this movie to be aimless, as several good features carry this similar trait, but the biggest crime of this feature comes from its terrible jokes. Every single one can be seen from many miles away and they land like wet farts in the wind and show incredible laziness by all involved. I understand they all got a nice vacation out of this but to put out this nonsense as a feature film and lure people in with this cast undoubtedly remains a travesty. Quite the aggravating feature and with a sequel that only makes things worse.