Arts movie review

We watched this film so you don’t have to

A movie, or a series of sketches cut from SNL?

6090 grownups
Roxanne Feder (Salma Hayek), Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James), Becky Feder (Alexys Nicole Sanchez), Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock), Sally Lamonsoff (Maria Bello), Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) and Marcus Higgins (David Spade) at The Ice Cream House in Grown Ups 2.
Tracy Bennett


Grown Ups 2

Directed by Dennis Dugan

Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Salma Hayek

Rated PG-13

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Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler’s latest film opens with Lenny Feder (Sandler) telling a joke comparing his wife’s (Salma Hayek) Mexican mother to a moose that has wandered into their house. Then — and here’s the kicker — the moose urinates on him. If you are not falling out of your seat laughing by this point in the film, you’re in for a long 101 minutes.

The storyline is even more unfocused than the series of nearly unrelated incidents that was the original Grown Ups. In Grown Ups 2, we are no longer following the hastily sketched struggles of five men and their families. Instead, Rob Schneider has been forgotten, and the remaining four men decide to play hooky for a day because it’s their kids’ last day of school, and they have no plans. Or perhaps they have no jobs — it’s a little unclear. The memorable characters include frat boy stereotypes who actually call each other “Frat Boy Milo” and “Frat Boy Cooper.” They must defend their party spot from intruders and eventually crash Lenny’s ’80s-themed party to battle. In keeping with the frat boy aesthetic, the camera constantly ogles women in yoga class, girls in cheerleading uniforms, and college students in bikinis.

The four middle-aged friends seem to have no direction, and it’s frustrating that the script doesn’t either. Only the frequent callbacks hold Grown Ups 2 together: it gets a lot of mileage out of humor involving a self-inflating raft. The moose makes another appearance towards the end — in case you fall asleep in the theater, wake up an hour later and wonder if you are still watching the same movie, now everyone is wearing ’80s costumes.

The laugh-out-loud moments are not too surprising or original, but if you want to see someone get knocked off of the top of a moving bus by a tree branch, this movie has a steady stream of slapstick humor. Perhaps someone will create gifs of these scenes, and then everyone can skip the theater and just wait for the gifs to show up on tumblr. Andy Samberg and the guys from The Lonely Island make an all too brief appearance, so the comedic talent they could have brought is wasted. The wisecracks among the four friends are like those from the original movie: a lot of the humor is at the expense of someone’s physical appearance or uncool day job. It shows how little they’ve actually grown up, but it’s sometimes cringe-worthy, like listening to an uncle who tells scatalogical jokes at Thanksgiving dinner. (Of course this film ends with a callback to a fart joke.)

In both films, there is a scene where an old woman imparts wisdom and draws out the lessons of the movie about growing up, but Grown Ups 2 cuts that scene short. Even Adam Sandler has fewer earnest lines this time around, and there is no Coach “Buzzer” Ferdinando to eulogize, so there is no emotional hook. Grown Ups 2 might have been about how “grown ups” are not so adult after all, but it comes off as a warning of what hanging onto childhood can do: you become stuck in an imitation your former self, never growing beyond the gimmicks that worked a couple of decades ago.