e290b57c37c23d93320ade2bb4b979bc0d77c828f29aa84e2b

7/12/2013

Review: 'Grown Ups 2', Starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and David Spade



Want to know where Adam Sandler's head is at with Grown Ups 2, somehow the first sequel in his "storied" career? The film begins with a urine joke, and ends with a fart joke. And in-between what passes for humor in this stale turd amounts to lazy slapstick that would make Jerry Lewis cringe, followed by poop, vomit, pee, and...oh, let's not forget that everybody is old. Because jokes about being old are always funny, especially when told repeatedly over the course of a torturous 90 minute exercise.

As if Sandler getting paid to hang out with his pals Kevin James, David Spade, and poor slummin' it Chris Rock wasn't bad enough, he's somehow managed to ignore plot to a greater degree than the first film. Grown Ups 2 is a random string of skits, apparently so unfunny that even Rob Schneider balked at the opportunity to return. His character's absence isn't even a concern, as he's replaced by cavalcade of Sandler's unfunny minions and washed up SNL has-beens. When Taylor Lautner and Stone Cold Steve Austin are the funniest guys in the room, somewhere the comedy train has been derailed.

So why is wolf boy Lautner in the film to begin with? Well besides the obvious, that some producer has incriminating photos somewhere, he appears to be around to poke fun at his own heartthrob image, although it's unclear whether he knows that's what is actually happening. Probably not. He's part of a random subplot in a sea of randomness, leading a raucous and aggressive group of frat boys (which also includes Milo Vintimiglia in full 'Ogre' mode) who make the old fogeys' lives miserable by pointing out just how ancient and unhip they are. So we get Lautner doing backflips and practicing his capoeira like he's trying out for the District B13 remake, or possibly an Abduction sequel because...well, nobody wants that.

Because it was too tough to come up with another reason for Lenny (Sandler) to visit his buddies, they just cut out the middle-man and had him leave Hollywood and move back to his old neighborhood. The plan seems to be to tell an Apatow-esque tale of growing older, cooling marriages, and teenaged kids, but why bother with any of that stuff when you can have Nick Swardson throw up or piss his pants, instead? Eric (James) is hiding from his wife by watching soap operas with his mom; Kurt (Rock) holds a marital advantage over his wife (Maya Rudolph) because she forgot their anniversary, and he uses his newfound power to drink a can of friggin' soda; and Higgins (Spade) discovers that he has a man-child of a son he never knew about. None of these issues really matter all that much, because nothing seems to really affect anybody. We jump from one scene to the next with no connection to anything that happened previously, and any lingering problems are all fixed during an impromptu '80s-inspired rock concert which must have been an awesome way for Sandler to wrap up his paid vacation. The stunning and way too good for this Salma Hayek returns as Lenny's wife, but she's really only there because she has a funny accent and is willing to be farted on. Somehow Sandler thinks that's what we really want to see: hot women who smell like Sandler's rear end.

What passes for a script is painfully dated and frequently mistakes funny for offensive, and includes scenes designed solely to give folks like Jon Lovitz, Tim Meadows, and Ellen Cleghorne (!!!) something to do. It's respectable that Sandler looks for ways to involve many of his old colleagues and a few celebrity pals, but more often than not it's just distracting. Shaquille O'Neal is downright embarrassing in a role too large even for his 7-foot frame, while ESPN relics Chris Berman and Dan Patrick show up to pad their IMDB credits.

Some will scramble to try and defend the film because hey, it's not as bad as Grown Ups, but that's damning with the faintest praise ever. Sandler used to be able to make juvenile humor work, but he and his crew are so obviously disinterested that everything comes off as dismal. Only Rock, the one who has bothered to branch out in his career, seems to care enough to put on a halfway decent performance, and it may be due to sharing screen time with Rudolph, who is always fun to watch.
Grown Ups 2 would be insulting if it were even worth getting riled up about. It aims for the softest comedy targets, misses those wildly, and yet keeps on firing. Perhaps there's something in that to be admired, but it's not enough to warrant sitting through this disaster.