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MOVIE REVIEW: Grown Ups

A cast of funny guys is wasted here

Grown Ups: Rates a D.
Courtesy photo

Grown Ups sure doesn’t seem like it was written by grown-ups. Adam Sandler co-wrote the script, and I think he was a tad lazy. You can see this in about 15 different scenes. It’s comedy that might be funny to the Saturday Night Live crew, but very few other folks.

And I’m someone that defends different casts that SNL has had. People always talk about the heyday with Belushi, Chevy, Ackroyd, etc. Well, they had some bad sketches, too. And how can you say those guys are any more talented than the future cast members like Dana Carvey, Mike Myers or Phil Hartman? Yet when cast members Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, David Spade and Sandler continue to make unfunny comedies, it’s going to get harder to defend them.

The premise starts out well enough. We see an 8th grade basketball championship (with child actors that looks just like the main cast). There’s a cute victory speech by Coach “Buzzer.” It’s 30 years later when the coach dies and the team all gets together for the funeral.

It’s sort of like a Big Chill that, instead of being written like a smart adult comedy, it’s fat and flatulence jokes.

There are about 10 movies that have similar premises to this (Indian Summer, Best of Times to name two), and all of them are about 10 times better than this.

Sure, there are a few laughs. Steve Buscemi has a great role, as does former SNL cast member Colin Quinn (there are about 10 former cast members in this film). The strangest thing about this is that they hired a former NBA player to be a consultant. Really? For a two-minute basketball scene? And if you’re hiring a former player, why a Clipper?

Pooh Richardson is the lucky fellow that gets the film credit (unfortunate about his nickname…imagine, there’s Dr. J, Chocolate Thunder, Magic, and he’s…Pooh; although he did play for the Clippers, so maybe that works).

I’m not bothered with the flawed logic – which would include how all the kids on the losing team just happen to be in the same town, at the same time, enabling a rematch to occur. Or why Chris Rock, who hates his mother, would bring her along to this weekend getaway (for a second I thought this was Tyler Perry doing that dumb Madea character).

There’s a scene where the guys play “arrow roulette” and shoot an arrow into the air and scramble around to safety. Even in slow motion, seeing their wacky facial expressions, isn’t funny. Not the character falling in dog doo, or the one falling into a pie. Now, take a great comedy like Garden State, which has a scene involving an arrow shot into the air, and Natalie Portmans facial expression afterwards. It’s hysterical.

The movies heart is in the right place, and a few moments are touching. The ratio of time spent watching this to laughs, just isn’t there.

There’s a scene with Tim Meadows where he and Chris Rock debate who the main black guy from that town was. That was clever, and I wondered if it was also an inside joke pointed at SNL.

Rock plays a character that’s a house husband, and the guys give him a hard time about that. What a fun, interesting premise to go with. And Rock is just the guy to bring humor to it; but there’s nothing.

When Michael Keaton starred in Mr. Mom, I still remember him playing poker with other housewives, using coupons instead of money, to bet with. Now, I’m not saying Mr. Mom is the pinnacle of good comedy, it’s far from it. It’s just an example of how good premises can have good comedy to accompany them.

Every 15 minutes, you get a good laugh. One of those involves the two gorgeous daughters of Schneider, who the guys can’t stop staring at. Another involves Salma “she should fire her agent instead of taking a different last name” Hayek-Renault trying to skip rocks on the pond.

Kevin James, filling in for a part Chris Farley surely would’ve gotten, has a few moments of decent physical comedy; but the fat jokes got old quick.

The best casting in this movie is the Labradoodle. This is the dog President Obama has, and it’s put to good use (he’s no air bud, but…the turkey bark is funny). Unfortunately, it’s not the only turkey this movie has going.

Even the closing credits are disappointing. No blooper real with this group of comedic friends? No funny snapshots like The Hangover, no funny additional scenes like Toy Story 3. Heck, they could’ve even done this move I’ve seen in movies and is quite powerful – photos of the cast from their childhood. Who doesn’t like seeing those?

I’m giving it a D.