Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

"Where’s the conflict?" This is the question my fourteen year old, of all people, would ask me as the comedy ‘Grown Ups’ was dwindling down to its tired conclusion. Mind you this question was being asked by a boy who won’t wear a shirt unless it has some superhero’s image on it and considers ‘ScoobyDoo vs. Batman’ the highpoint of modern western civilization. This is a boy who considers ‘Meet Dave’ his generations ‘Blazing Saddles’. What I’m saying is that the boy, while intelligent, has entertainment needs that are that are not very sophisticated and somehow this movie filled with some of the funniest people in the business working today, failed to meet these insanely simple needs. He also whispered in my ear, breathlessly, "Dad, who’s that playing Adam Sandler’s Wife?" That, my son, is Salma Hayek. And if the opportunity were to present itself she would be your new mom. Just don’t tell your current mom this.

Thirty some ago five boys of suspect basketball ability won a tournament for their old coach. Today coach is dead. Coach looked like he was around 70 back in ’78 so he held on for a while. Now it’s time for these five boys to head back home to give the old coach a proper sendoff.

Cool. These boys are nice guy Lenny (Sandler), the biggest agent in Hollywood married to international fashion designer Roxanne (Hayek) with the couple having three high class spoiled rotten children. There’s Eric (Kevin James) whose distinguishing quality is that he’s fat and likes to front. He’s married to Sally (Maria Bello) who still breast feeds their four year old. You’ve seen the trailer. Next there’s henpecked Kurt (Chris Rock) a househusband who spends most of his spare time getting insulted by his pregnant wife Deanne (Mya Rudolph), while simultaneously being completely disrespected by his mother-in-law and his two children. Kurt is followed by Marcus (David Spade) who is an international trailer-park playboy and finally there’s the melodramatic Rob (Rob Schneider) who prefers women old enough to be his grandma, such as his current wife Gloria (Joyce Van Patten).

Alrightythen. So there’s the funeral, they scatter coach’s ashes and our heroes interact with each other and their respective families and then the final credits roll with the theory being that you just had a helluva evening spending quality time with these recognizable and certifiably funny dudes. It sounds all good in theory.

Recognize that there’s no real plot in this movie. Luke doesn’t have to blow up the Deathstar, William Wallace doesn’t have to martyr himself to free the Scots or keeping it comedic, Danny doesn’t have to sink that putt to put those uppity country clubbers in their proper places. I guess if you put Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and Kevin James in a movie then toss in funny folks Mya Rudolph, David Spade and Rob Schneider for support then there’s really no room for plot or ‘conflict’ as my son lamented, since we will be too busy laughing to notice. In theory.

It just wasn’t all that funny. Don’t get me wrong because ‘Grown Ups’ had its moments. I mean it was funnier than… hell… ‘Little Nicky’ to keep things in an Adam Sandler perspective, but it wasn’t nearly as funny as Sandler and James in ‘I now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry’ which also had the added benefit of ‘conflict’.

So we have this film that as a comedy is, at best, okay. We also have this film that as a movie, at least in the traditional sense, is almost non-existent. Thus what you are left with, if you want to achieve maximum enjoyment out of ‘Grown Ups’, I think, is how content are you watching some movie stars, who I hope you are really big fans of, enjoying themselves on vacation. In between the scattershot hit and miss jokes we get to watch our heroes play at the water park, row boats, girl watch, water ski, pee in swimming pools and all other kinds of fun stuff. So if it’s kind of important for you to see, say, Chris Rock have a good time with some close friends at the water park while making you laugh every once in a while… I’m just saying is all.

Ultimately ‘Grown Ups’ was pretty disappointing, especially considering the talent involved. Anytime a guy who thought ‘Meet Dave’ was funny starts questioning the comedic worth of anything, we have a problem.

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