DIR: Dennis Dugan • WRI: Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf • PRO: Jack Giarraputo, Adam Sandler • DOP: Theo van de Sande • ED: Tom Costain • DES: Perry Andelin Blake • CAST: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Norm MacDonald, David Spade
If you enter the words ‘grown up’ and ‘Adam Sandler’ into a search engine you get zero matches. Okay that’s not actually true but it quite possibly was until recently. Familiar face though he is, ‘grown up’ wouldn’t be the first adjective to spring to mind when describing him so what is he doing in a film entitled Grown Ups?
The pitch is simple – get Sandler and his equally immature peers in the comical shapes of Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider in the same camera lens and watch all that beautiful money pour in. How could it fail? It could and it does, cataclysmically so.
The plot (likely written on a napkin) centres on a group of childhood friends who drift apart and are reunited thirty years later for the funeral of their basketball coach. They spend the weekend together in a holiday cabin with their families as they reminisce about simpler times amid chastising their children for their cell phones and apparent heliophobia.
There’s nothing wrong with a lack of plot in a comedy once you back it up with plenty of laughs and this is where Grown Ups fails in fully matured proportions. It’s like being a guest at a school reunion where you are forced to sit in on their private jokes and dull reminiscences that are only funny if you were there thirty years ago. Instead of constructive dialogue, the ‘grown ups’ call each other fat, and laugh and complain about getting old and then the cycle begins again. Grown Ups is a fine example of that phenomenon where time passes achingly slow when you’re surrounded by idiots in a forced conversation, perhaps at a school reunion.
I would count myself a fan of Sandler’s earlier work but Grown Ups is a sorry sight when compared to the likes of The Wedding Singer or Happy Gilmore. It makes for uncomfortable viewing; like an aged rock star putting on a greatest hits tour which is such a disappointment that it actually spoils their back catalogue. Sometimes it’s better to just enjoy your memories instead of trying to recreate the experience, failing horribly, and boring the unfortunate guest at your reunion.