Dennis Dugan’s Grown Ups is one of those awful movies that’s so egregiously stupid that I should be up in arms over how its mere existence has made our society dumber. But I can’t be, because there’s no effort in the wholesale atrociousness of Grown Ups. Offend me, appall me, disgust me—do something—just don’t bore me to the point of eye-rolling malaise.
There was never an inkling of a question as to whether or not Grown Ups would be this bad of a movie—it is, after all, an Adam Sandler vehicle, and the worst kind at that, because it includes all the usual Sandlerian hangers-on. Let’s run down the list, shall we? Behind the camera is Dennis Dugan. The closest he has come to making a good movie was—and let this sink in for a minute—I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007). On top of this, we get the singular acting talents of not only Rob Schneider, but David Spade as well. That it’s written by Fred Wolf—the scribe somehow mediocre enough to be behind not one, not two, but three David Spade films—is just overkill.
The real question is whether the other players were blackmailed or browbeat into being in this thing. OK, so maybe it’s wishful thinking to believe that Chris Rock is above this kind of schlock, but what about Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph and Maria Bello? (And not just Maria Bello, but an often lactating, occasionally breast-milk-spewing Maria Bello?)
But what all this really proves is how much a waste this movie is: a waste of talent and a waste of time. The plot is basically for people who felt The Big Chill (1983) lacked a requisite amount of fart jokes and the sight of David Spade’s bare ass. After their elementary-school basketball coach (Sandler usual Blake Clark) passes away, five old buddies—Sandler, Rock, Spade, Schneider and Kevin James—return to their hometown for a weekend at a lake house. Each finds himself stuck in the ennui of adult problems, all of which are gradually burned away through friendship and a noisy, unrelenting onslaught of hoary slapstick, multiple gags revolving around a gaseous grandmother and Rob Schneider in a toupee. And that’s just the classy stuff.
There’s a surprising lack of gay jokes in a movie involving five guys palling around, but this slight amount of maturity is a small victory. It’s the same tactless movie Sandler has been making ad nauseum for years now—the only difference is it’s just yawn-inducing old hat at this point. Rated PG-13 for crude material, including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity.