You know when you’re at a family reunion, and there’s that one goofy uncle? Let’s call him Uncle Adam. Uncle Adam likes to tell jokes. Actually, he likes to pigeonhole you and subject you to his “jokes,” which are really heinous puns and borderline racist/sexist/homophobic one-liners. Then he takes a break for another swig of scotch, and you take the opportunity to run away, leaving whatever poor cousin in your wake to take up the slack.
Watching “Grown Ups” is like listening to Uncle Adam. Except there are five of him. And you’re stuck with all of them for two hours. In a darkened room, where you can’t run away because afterward you need to write about the awful, awful jokes they made you listen to. For two hours.
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock
This is the part where you would normally hear about the plot. Unfortunately, there is no plot. A bunch of middle-aged guys (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider) learn that their childhood basketball coach has died. They go to the funeral with their respective families and then hang around a lake house for a weekend, telling their terrible jokes and embarrassing everyone who’s watching them.
There are jokes about old women with painful bunions. Old women who still have sex. Fat people. Breastmilk squirting in someone’s face. People covered in cow dung. Men who stay home while women work. Guys getting hit in the crotch. Old women who fart. Adorable children who don’t know the meaning of the word “wasted.” Guys peeing in pools.
Mind you: all of these topics can be covered in a way that’s hilarious. But for a film that has five established and well-known comedians, the comedic timing and delivery is amateurish and frankly painful to watch. By the time the seventeenth “Take my wife, please” equivalent rolled out I felt desperate to get out of the theater.
And then there’s what they did to the women.
Sandler managed to array a coterie of gorgeous, talented actresses: Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph and Salma Hayek, as well as character actress Joyce Van Patten. Bello is the overprotective mommy who can’t say no. Rudolph is the ball busting career woman, and Hayek is the woman who has the temerity to be annoyed that she has to stay at a lake house when she has a fashion show in Milan. Van Patten is the old woman who still has sex (eww gross!). None of them are funny. Let me say that another way: Maya Rudolph wasn’t funny. When your script is so bad that even Maya Rudolph can’t save it, you really need to reevaluate your career choices.
It’s very unclear exactly who “Grown Ups” is made for. The trailers make it seem like a family-friendly film, but there’s a lot of sex jokes I wouldn’t think appropriate for the 12 and under set. The jokes aren’t raunchy in the way that teens or the 18-24 groups would enjoy. That leaves those who are older, and middle aged. Those who have families of their own, who could maybe “relate” to the plight of Uncle Adam and his friends. Frankly it’s hard for me to imagine anyone who could feel warm and fuzzy about a bunch of unfunny people sitting around a lake.
As for me, I made a beeline for the door as soon as the credits rolled. I didn’t want to take the chance that Uncle Adam had another joke in him.