Grown Ups 2
2013, 101mins, 12
Director: Dennis Dugan
Writer (s): Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy, Fred Wolf
Cast includes: Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Taylor Lautner
UK Release Date: August 9th 2013
2010’s “Grown Ups” was a complete non-event, a lazy, sleepy comedy that featured a handful of funny actors, but choked the laughter with an overpowering aroma of slack film-making. However, it won big at the box-office, providing star Adam Sandler with one of the heftiest hits of his career. I've always been something of a Sandler fan, but “Grown Ups” belonged in the indefensible portion of his filmography, a section that seems to be expanding at a disheartening clip. Last year the comedian’s R-rated gem (and I sincerely mean that, I adored the film) “That’s My Boy” tanked, leaving him keen for a hit to re-establish his regal financial status. Sandler has always been shy about the prospect of sequels (what I wouldn't give to see where “Happy Gilmore” is these days) but desperate times call for desperate measures, and boy howdy, is “Grown Ups 2” desperate. The feature achieves the impossible by appearing even emptier than its predecessor, Sandler and his cohorts going as far to jettison even a thin narrative through-line on this occasion. It’s a ghastly film; crassly commercial, shamelessly sentimental and short of any proper laughs whatsoever. It also happens to be ludicrously sexist and smug. To clarify, I would not recommend seeing it.
This is usually the part of the review where a plot synopsis goes. But I’m not going to apply that standard here for two reasons. Firstly, “Grown Ups 2” barely has a story to recount. Secondly, you can bet that the makers of the film wouldn't bother in my shoes. So I've decided to honour them with my own apparent absence of effort.
Remember the Sandler of old? An immature rapscallion for sure, but one with a talent for brilliant feats of comedic surrealism, likable everyman bantering and energetic performing. That man resurfaced briefly last year with “That’s My Boy” after eons in hiding, and was roundly rejected by a public who weren't particularly up for the comedian staggering around breathlessly, dropping F-bombs, pushing boundaries and working with colleagues actually interested in drawing out of him his manic best. No, instead that public were hungry for flaccid fart gags and witless acts of humiliation. So here we are. “Grown Ups 2”. You asked for it, and Sandler has delivered. What he’s come up with is one of the worst films he’s ever been associated with. The sort of product that looks like it was conceived, written, shot and edited over a long weekend. No tangible backbone or soul is evident; just capitalist thirst and creative bankruptcy. Jokes are recycled from past Sandler works and the emotional beats ring so false your ears will probably start to bleed. There’s not a single belly-laugh to be had and morally it’s probably the most mean-spirited work you could expose your children to this summer.
Sandler’s practically unconscious here, tweaking occasionally to belch out a silly noise or hollow familial interaction. You see “Grown Ups 2” is a movie about the importance of family, community and friends. Except it isn't. It’s about cash-grabbing, indulgent nostalgia and passing wind. The movie hurtles through a series of disconnected skits (most involving poop or vomit) before arriving at an obnoxious finale at a 80s themed party, where Sandler fights Steve Austin for some reason. Something about passing on a fatherly message to his son. Because nothing emits paternal diligence like scrapping with a professional wrestler of the past. That’s a good example of how dumb and clueless the feature can be on the subject of human interaction.
I love breasts. I think they’re great, and so are attractive women. All for them. But y’know I also like and respect other things about the fairer sex too. That isn't a mantra vaguely supported by “Grown Ups 2”, a film whose leading female character might as well be credited as Tits McGee (that’s a riff on a joke in the movie actually) and which spends a large portion of its first act ogling a voluptuous Ballet teacher. We also get a subplot in which a woman obsesses about a crush she used to have on Sandler. Obviously none of it is funny or clever, but it’s also kind of unacceptable in the guise of family entertainment. Boobie guffaws are hardly a new innovation, and nippers tend to gravitate toward them, but “Grown Ups 2” doesn't even bother to make legitimate jokes about female chest extremities. It just stares at them. Like a horned up sexual predator. It’s pretty gross and deeply uncomfortable. If I want to stare at Salma Hayek’s breasts, I’m perfectly capable of booting up Google and conducting a search. I don’t really want to pay for the privilege. I certainly don’t want to pay for the privilege under the pretense that it’s some form of art. But what’s more is the message “Grown Ups 2” sends in this regard. It’s an incredibly sexist feature, completely devoted to the “hotness” of its lady stars, giving them nothing more than tight-fitting outfits and healthy doses of debasement with which to work. You can crack crappy jokes. You can ignore the fundamental necessities of storytelling. But designing a film to be consumed by a variety of ages that objectifies women so vigorously isn't on. And I say that as someone who really does like boobs.
It’s dire. The supporting cast are useless (including an over-caffeinated Taylor Lautner) and visually it’s as artificial as its supposed, quiet moments of human contemplation. “Grown Ups 2” is a horrendous motion picture, carelessly mounted, mirthless and repugnantly positioned on the subject of gender. I used to be excited about the prospect of an Adam Sandler studio comedy, but it’s been increasingly tricky to maintain enthusiasm over the last 10-years; annually being fed on a steady diet of pap. Sure, “That’s My Boy” restored a degree of pleasure to the relationship, and there’s always the hope that Sandler might turn back to the dramatic pastures that have served him surprisingly well, but “Grown Ups 2” is potentially his greatest affront yet; which even from a Sandler apologist is saying something.
A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2013