News Column

Review: 'Grown Ups 2'

July 13, 2013

YellowBrix

July 13--What needs to be said about "Grown Ups 2" that wasn't already said about "Grown Ups," which teamed Adam Sandler with his buddies to make an irreverent, immature comedy hit? Almost nothing.

It still features Sandler goofing off with Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade, all nearing 50 and acting 15.

This is a movie in which the boys attempt to make something come out of every orifice -- in a PG-13 kind of way. They come closest to accomplishing this in one move with the "burpsnart," a combination belch-sneeze-passing of gas that's repeated throughout the film.

Because it's so funny -- to someone. Because anytime the script must have felt like it had a lull, someone scribbled "Insert burpsnart here."

Not that there are many lulls, or laughs. Manic is the first rule of Sandler films, even when set in a sleepy little New England town.

This is the place where in the first film Lenny, a big-shot Hollywood agent (Sandler) returned to his hometown and rediscovered his love of the place and his old pals, ultimately deciding to move there with his wife (Salma Hayek -- yeah right) to raise his family.

It was three summers ago that "Grown Ups" drew enough fans of these funny guys -- I wish their movies made me laugh the way they can in interviews together -- to make the movie the second-biggest hit of Sandler's career.

It's a remarkable career with 13 films that made $100 million-plus at the U.S. box office without his ever making a sequel -- until now.

It often seemed like he was making the same movie over and over again because his range is that limited. But only a career-long dry slump in live-action movies, with recent bombs like "Jack & Jill" and "That's My Boy" turning off fans, forced Sandler's foray into a sequel.

"Grown Ups 2" achieves the same degree of lameness as the first film, but at least Sandler has dialed down the crudeness a notch. It's his first PG-13 picture in years that doesn't feel like it should be rated R.

Sandler and frequent directing partner Dennis Dugan try to focus the comedy on family, including wives who are too hot for their male counterparts or the eccentric children (a bully, an ankle-biting infant), but ultimately it's all about the men and their antics.

Not that there aren't gross-out things that happen in the picture that would never happen in real life.

Like a deer urinating all over an open-mouthed Lenny. Or the kids' principal finding things in his navel and eating them. Or Hayek's character proclaiming that she desires to procreate with Sandler's character.

The most tiresome aspect of "Grown Ups 2," beyond the stupidity, crudeness and old-men's backsides, is the teasing.

Transgender jokes, fat jokes (always James, happy to look stupid), homeliness jokes, mama's boy jokes -- the picture was made by people who like to put down people, and it was made for people who like to tease others or watch others be insulted.

This has long been a Sandler trademark and, after 20 years, it has run its course.

This brand of farce raises a question: What does Sandler have left? Almost nothing.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479

michael.smith@tulsaworld.com

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