Director: Dennis Dugan Release date: 06/08/10 Link: IMDB It’s going to happen to every single one of us whether we like it or not. For some it will be sooner, for others it will be later, but there comes a time in everyone’s lives when we reach the inevitable understanding that we need to grow up and become a dependable adult. Each individual will handle the leap to maturity in their own special way, but for some of us this change can involve getting married and having children. And anyone who has kids knows precisely how big of a life-changer that can be. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the lack of sleep or the savings account that constantly hovers around empty, but rather the way it transforms you as a person. I can only speak for myself, but as soon as my son entered this world almost a year ago, I could feel the immaturity slowly departing from my body. To this day, I never really felt like I had a choice. I am now responsible for the health and upbringing of another human being, and it’s not a task that I take lightly. As much fun as I’ve had in the past hopping from bar to bar with my friends, those days are long behind me. I know now that everything I do is going to help shape the person my little boy will become, so I always try to be on my best behaviour and set a good example. Now this is something that every caring parent should do and I’m not going to criticize someone for wanting to be a reputable role model, but boy is it depressing when this transition happens to comedic actors, especially those who have made a living on edgy, obscene and wacky material. That just so happens to be one of the main problems with Grown Ups, which stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider as childhood friends who reunite for a weekend at a lake house in their hometown when their junior high school basketball coach passes away. Even for a film that’s rated PG-13, it’s way too tame, it plays it way too safe and, worst of all, it really isn’t that funny. There was a time when I found each of these actors somewhat hilarious (well, everyone except for Schneider), but now it just seems like the glory days have passed them by. I can’t recall a decent movie any of these guys have been in over the past couple of years (Sandler’s Funny People may be an exception, but even that is pushing it) and Grown Ups does nothing to end that piteous streak. You can surely denounce Grown Ups solely on the basis that it lacks any sort of indecent and filthy comedy that consistently generates laughs, but the film is plagued even further by the lazy script from Sandler and Fred Wolf (Strange Wilder-ness and Without a Paddle) and the unfocused direction by Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and The Benchwarmers). If you’re looking for a meaningful plot in Grown Ups you won’t find one, no matter how hard you try. Basically, the movie only serves the purpose of giving Sandler an excuse to hang out with three of his “Saturday Night Live” alums and his I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry co-star Kevin James. So, instead of telling a cohesive story that includes loads of laughs, the film mainly consists of the guys trading playful barbs back and forth, and while this may sound like it has unlimited potential, most of the zingers are so childish and unimaginative that you probably heard them first in middle school. (Wow, Kevin James’ character is fat because he likes to eat at KFC. That’s brilliant!) It also doesn’t help much that Dugan essentially lets his actors have free rein when it comes to the film’s improvisational comedy, which results in some of the scenes becoming so long and sloppy that you’ll be begging for them to end. And he also doesn’t know when to let a recurring joke die, like, say, the grandma with the bunion and flatulence problems and the barking dog with snipped vocal cords. Dugan is exactly like a parent who’s never heard of the words no or stop. But what’s even worse is the characters are so one-dimensional that you could easily mistake them for cardboard cut-outs. Lenny Felder (Sandler) is a super Hollywood agent who is so embarrassed by his spoiled wife (Salma Hayek) and kids that he hopes the weekend getaway will return them to their roots; Eric Lamonsoff (James) is a salesman who pretends to be more successful than he actually is and his ball and chain (Maria Bello) still breast-feeds their 4-year-old son; Marcus Higgins (Spade) is an unmarried skirt chaser who doesn’t shy away from alcohol; Rob Hilliard (Schneider) is a New Age vegan who is married to a woman almost twice his age (Joyce Van Patten); and Kurt McKenzie (Rock) is a stay-at-home father who is habitually teased by his pregnant wife (Maya Rudolph) and mother-in-law (Ebony Jo-Ann). Their personalities and motivations are where most of the supposed comedy comes from, and Dugan tries to milk it until there are no drops left. I will say this, however: Grown Ups is a movie that features old friends who are playing old friends, so there is rarely a moment when it doesn’t look like they are having a tremendous amount of fun. After almost every gag they laugh and laugh as though it was the funniest thing they have ever heard, but as a member of the audience, it often felt like I was never in on the joke. I can’t think of many things that are more alienating than that. Photobucket