Grown Ups

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Movie review by Neil Sadler

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Steve Buscemi
Director: Dennis Dugan

If only the film of GROWN UPS was as much fun to watch as the making of it obviously was. Adam Sandler likes to surround himself with friends and especially recently, he has created an ensemble of actors that he likes to have in his films from the obvious comedy foils like Rob Scheider to newer buddies like Kevin James and Chris Rock. Of all his films this is the largest ensemble and sadly ends up as its biggest weakness.

GROWN UPS is a story about getting older and the responsibilities or lack of them that growing old or growing up can bring. What story there is tells of a group of friends from school gathering together at the funeral of their basketball coach and spending a weekend reminiscing.

The various characters have their own issues and have adapted to aging with various degrees of success. From problems with prostrates to the generation gap, at just over 100 minutes of running time, the large cast means there are a lot of stories to tell here and so some get more time and attention than others. As with many of Sandler’s films it is the female characters that lose out the most with some fine actors such as Salma Hayek and Maria Bello reduced to little more than cameos.

Instead we concentrate on fart jokes, four year olds breast feeding and older men lusting after the hot daughters of their friends (although not the ugly daughter of course!)

This feels like it was created on the fly, like a Mike Leigh film, but the characters instead of having any depth are generally like jokes waiting for a punch line. Adam Sandler is very easy to like and had this been more about his character then we may have had a chance to feel a bit more about his dilemmas, but you sense the writers were unsure of what the point of the story was and so increasingly throw more and more joke characters into an already full pot. Some work well, while others seem like they are in the film purely on a whim and had this been a bit more judiciously edited there would have been a very funny film hiding in there.

It is very funny in places and Sandler and his friends have a gentle camaraderie that welcomes an audience in very easily but even with the minimal running time here, it all feels a bit aimless. There is nothing for the film to work towards and you feel as if very few of these characters are any more grown up by the time the film ends than they were at the beginning.

The extras are more enjoyable than the film and give you an insight into how comfortable this group of actors are together. One of the extras, a riff-o-rama gives a strong hint as to how the film was created and why the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” is an extremely apt summary of the film.

2 out of 6 stars