Stunted: Sandler's film not so 'Grown up'
Pop quiz and SPOILER ALERT! The visual humor in Grown Ups 2 includes but is not limited to:
A. Grown men striving to sneeze, burp and fart in rapid succession.
B. A deer urinating on a man.
C. A deer urinating on a boy.
D. A very small child dressed as Michael Jackson at a 1980s themed party.
E. Shaquille O'Neal getting washed like a car.
F. Numerous characters projectile vomiting.
G. A giant urine stain on an adult male's underwear— at a party attended by children.
H. Multiple assaults on multiple male crotches.
I. None of the above.
J. ALL of the above.
If you answered I, then you've probably never seen an Adam Sandler movie. If you answered J, you know that's just a small sampling of the slapstick humor that one finds in the average Adam Sandler comedy.
And that's pretty much what this is: an average Adam Sandler comedy, which, sadly, means it's a below-average comedy— because whatever comedic fires and bursts of genuinely inspired humor Sandler once possessed have long ago burnt out. Over the last 10 years, Sandler has headlined more terrible comedies than anyone in Hollywood. You have to be really successful to be able to keep churning out so many mediocrities over such a long period.
(Sidebar: A small child dressed as Michael Jackson? Really? NOBODY connected with this movie thought that might make for an unfortunate visual?)
Three years after reuniting with his old pals, Sandler's Lenny Feder and his family have bid farewell to Hollywood and are now living in Lenny's idyllic hometown, where Chris Rock's Kurt works for a cable company, Kevin James' Eric has an auto-repair shop, and David Spade's Marcus is still working the ladies— actually, working part-time at a go-kart track and just getting to know the brooding teenage son he didn't know existed until about a week ago.
Grown Ups 2 presents a number of potential conflicts but doesn't have the energy to pursue any of them. (You'll find more dramatic tension in an episode of Two and a Half Men, The Sheen Years.) Lenny's wife, Roxanne (Salma Hayek), wants one more child, but Lenny thinks three is quite enough, thank you. Eric's son thinks 9 plus 7 equals 97, but Eric just shrugs and cracks jokes about it. Marcus' son rebels for about three minutes before Marcus wins him over. There are a gay fitness instructor, a closeted gay bus driver who's constantly high on pharmaceuticals, a doctor who concludes a diagnosis by drinking from a flask, a school principal who is tormented by most of the student body, and at least a half-dozen other superfluous supporting characters, most of them played by familiar actors who show up, try to milk a laugh or two out of a desperate comedic setup and then exit to call their agents and say, "You got anything else for me?"
And oh, yeah, Taylor Lautner, the shirtless wolfie boy from all those Twilight movies, plays a rock-headed frat boy who taunts Lenny and his friends until there's a big, I mean big, brawl at the aforementioned 1980s party. Judging by the ferocity of the fights and the sound effects as grown men and women pummel, kick, punch, choke and otherwise maul one another, you'd expect about two dozen ambulances, several serious injuries and about 200 arrests, but this is a live-action cartoon, so when the party's over, Lenny just brings a bag of chips into the bedroom and tells his wife he's ready to talk about having another kid. OK.
The weird thing about Grown Ups 2 is even though nobody in this movie behaves in anything resembling actual human behavior, and the jokes range from the obvious to the aggressively tasteless, it's not as repugnant as you might expect.
The comedy here is so toothless, the bullies are so cartoonishly stupid and the physical jokes are so obviously staged, you can picture Sandler and his longtime comedy buddies laughing it up between takes, enjoying another cruise-control day on the set, never worrying about having to come up with even one good line anyone will be quoting by the time this thing hits Netflix.
I'll bet there's not a single actor in this movie who would watch this movie if he or she weren't in this movie.
And even that might not be enticement enough.