Adam Sandler and pals do comedy for the children--and the young at heart
Co-written by Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf and directed by Dennis Dugan, Grown Ups looks like it could be a bromance comedy, what with starring five talented comedians: Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider. Instead, it's an extremely family friendly comedy (fart jokes) about the importance of raising children that appreciate the simpler things in life, such as a string phone, and what it takes be the kind of adult that has no regrets.
Flashbacks to a middle school basketball championship won by the five guys open Grown Ups, which crashes into the moment each of them learned about the death of their coach, a man who tried to teach them as much about life as shooting hoops. So you get to see kid versions of the adult actors, which is always fun, and how they turned out. Lenny (Sandler) is a successful Hollywood agent who joins up with his four childhood buddies at the coach's funeral and rents a lake house for the all of them and their families for the July 4 weekend. Eric (James) is the most average of the guys; his acid-washed jeans-wearing wife Sally (Maria Bello) still breast feeds their four-year old. Kurt (Rock) is a house-husband who is constantly emasculated by his pregnant wife Deanne (Mia Rudolph) and her mother (basically Madea played by Ebony Jo-Ann). Marcus (Spade) is the only bachelor of the group. And hippie Rob (Schneider) is the three-times married lover of older ladies.
Lenny's wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek Pinault) is a career-driven fashion designer, and together they have given their two spoiled, elitist sons everything: the boys go around texting the nanny and requesting Voss water; their youngest, a daughter, seems unfazed. But when Lenny sees that his boys don't know how to interact with a rock--when you are 12 and at a lake, you should at least throw the sucker--he feels like a failure, as all the of guys do in their own way.
The best parts of the movie take place when the five guys circle jerk their way through busting each others' balls, which comes off effortlessly. Ditto the moments of physical comedy caused by their childlike thinking--such as the game of arrow roulette--shoot an arrow straight up and the last guy standing wins--or the stand-offs in the hamburger shack and the water park against the guys they beat in basketball so many years ago. The ladies barely get squeezed into the action, but Rudolph makes the most of her belly, Hayek Pinault offers many a straight-faced but funny reaction to the chaos.
Especially fun: scenes at the water park, shots of Sandler's real wife and daughters during the b-ball rematch, and "Stan the Man," a clever and touching song over the end of the credits written and sung by Sandler about his father. The Grown Ups DVD will make a great Father's Day gift next year.