GROWN UPS 2
By Gary Murray
Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade
Written by Fred Wolf, Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Running time 110 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Arguably, Adam Sandler is the most successful individual to be a part of SNL. His Happy Madison Productions has created a massive amount of motion pictures for him and his buddies over the years. Some have been major box office hits. His latest is a sequel Grown Ups 2.
The film takes place a few years after the events of the first film. Lenny (Adam Sandler) has moved back from LA and into his old home town. He wants his kids to have the kind of childhood that he had growing up. His wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek) soldiers on by opening a boutique.
All the guys are still in the small town. Eric (Kevin James) runs an auto repair shop. He loves his wife Sally (Maria Bello) but seems to love his mom just a little bit more. Kurt (Chris Rock) is the cable guy who basically uses his day to goof-off. As the show starts, his wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph) has forgotten their 20th anniversary. Finally, Marcus (David Spade) has found out that he has a son, a giant behemoth of a kid who looks just like him.
The story is basically a day in the life. Lenny has to take over the morning bus route from Nick (Nick Swardson). A good fourth of the film is the guys driving around the town and going to K-mart. Nick makes the most of these moments and scores major laughs at the beginning, easily the funniest part of the work.
The film is more a series of skits with the guys going from little adventure to little adventure. The film crescendos into a 1980s house party complete with images that were not a part of the 1980s. Some of their adventures are going to a ballet recital and swimming at their old swim hole. There they meet up with a group of frat boys who do not want to share their turf. The leader of the frat is Taylor Lautner.
Grown Ups 2 flows along like slow rapids without much of a character arc for any member of this large cast. It is much more of a 24 hr vignette than a screenplay with high and low points. The film focuses on the small events of small town life and the settling into middle age. There are no grand truths in Grown Ups 2.
This film is littered with cameos. Just about every member of the 1990s cast of SNL has some kind of part in the production. It was great to see the wonderful Jon Lovitz and Cheri Oteri in small parts. Many of the more current members of the cast also have small roles. It becomes almost a game to spot every former member of the late night comedy show.
Perhaps the greatest element of the entire film is when that 1980s band J. Geils shows up to play at the house party. This was one of the best groups of the era and seeing them rock on stage even for a scant few minutes is worth sitting through the film.
Some of the funnier moments happen without this Fab Four of comedy. Shaquille O’Neal plays an officer and seems to be having the time of his life with the little part. Steve Buscemi plays Wiley, a driving instructor. He also gets a moment to deliver the comedy. Sandler, as a producer, moves aside to let everybody have a special beat to deliver laughs.
The biggest problem with Grown Ups 2 is that there is no plot. It is more of a day in the life of these four characters on the last day of school and first night of summer. There are little moments that are screamingly funny, but nothing ever builds to anything. The film starts with a piss joke and keeps that low level of comedy.
At the same time, the screenplay has a stand-up comedy structure. There are set-ups throughout the film that pay off at different moments. There is a manic flow that somehow keeps random events into a coherent whole. The trio of writers finds all the gags just never the heart behind the humor.
Grown Ups 2 is a decent sequel that pushes the boundary of PG-13. There are many shocking moments in this ‘family film’ so be warned if you take the little ones. The elements of raunchiness are rapid and reaching. But, it will probably be a massive box office pay day for Adam Sandler.