'Grown Ups' has juvenile humor
The title of "Grown Ups" is ironic, given the movie's juvenile humor.
Adam Sandler co-wrote the script with Fred Wolf, former "Saturday Night Live Writer," who wrote the screenplays for "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" and "Joe Dirt."
Sandler also wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for his movies, "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," "Little Nicky," "The Waterboy," "Happy Gilmore" and "Billy Madison."
So, you know what to expect with "Grown Ups": tart and often humorous observations about perceptions, mistakes and learning from them.
Sandler reteams with director Dennis Dugan, who directed Sandler in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," "Big Daddy" and "Happy Gilmore."
While Sandler is at the center of the storyline, "Grown Ups" is more of an ensemble comedy. Sanders shares screen time with funnymen Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider.
The five play friends who were members of a championship youth basketball team. They reunite for a Fourth of July weekend following the death of their former basketball team coach.
The younger versions of the five leads are particularly well-cast. The flashback footage of the boys' basketball team is an inventive device.
Wives and children accompany the five grown up men to a lakeside house for the weekend. The wives are played by Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph and Joyce Van Patten. There are only four because the character played by Spade is single.
Members of the rival team that the team defeated also show up in the Massachusetts town, including those played by Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn and Tim Meadows.
The screenplay has some bromides, one in particular. "Play life just like you played the game today," says the coach, "so that when that final buzzer of life goes off, you'll have no regrets."
Easier said than done, of course, but well worth considering and certainly a goal if not a slam dunk to keep in mind.
Over the course of the weekend, Sandler and his friends bond through a series of mishaps, family conflicts and recreation.
Some old wounds are opened, but are soon patched up. Each of the friends, as well as the spouses, rediscovers each other and experience renewal in themselves and their relationships.
The movie's themes not only resonate with the audience, but are emblematic of our society. Rather than hector us, Sanders turns these and other contemporary topics into jokes, while still getting us to think about them.
The screenplay has the humorous behavioral comedy and dialogue typical of Sandler, who plays a high-powered Hollywood agent married to a fashion designer wife, played by Hayak.
For example, Sandler tries to convey to his sons, who are glued to the video game they're playing on the TV screen, the fun of playing the board game, "Chutes and Ladders," as well as the enjoyment of playing outdoors.
Each of the actors in "Grown Ups" has his or her moments and is frequently funny. There is some good physical comedy. Some of the humor is rude and crude. At times, it seems the five male leads improvised their razzing of each other.
The cinematography is a drawback. Production values seem second-rate in terms of lighting, framing and editing.
"Grown Ups" is yet another attempt by Sandler to do material more appropriate to his age he'll be 44 in September which began with "Anger Management" (2003) and continued, to various degrees, with "Click," "Reign Over Me," "Bedtime Stories" and, especially, "Funny People."
It appears that Sandler and company had a lot of fun filming "Grown Ups" just look at the water park scene. Unfortunately, "Grown Ups" is not as much fun for the movie-goer.
"Grown Ups": MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity); Genre: comedy; Run time: 1 hr. 42 min.; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: Adam Sandler sings the song, "Stan the Man," ostensibly about his father, during the "Grown Ups" closing credits.
Box Office: July 2: "The Twilight Saga" continued, with the third installment, "Eclipse," pulling in $64.8 million for the Fourth of July weekend and $157.5 million since opening at midnight June 29.
"Eclipse" had the third highest-grossing Independence Day opening weekend ever, after "Spider-Man 2," which had $88.2 million, and "Transformers," $70.5 million.
"Eclipse" set a midnight opening record June 29 with $30 million. On opening day, June 30, it grossed $68.5 million, short of the $72.7 million taken in by "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."
Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes