July 18--There was a time when Adam Sandler made good movies.
No really, there was.
From his early comedies "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore," which are now staples on cable TV, to more serious work in "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Funny People," Sandler has had his moments on the big screen.
Those films seem so far away now with Sandler mired in a slump of epic proportions, a string of movies so awful, it's amazing he still finds work.
The latest is "Grown Ups 2," a sequel to the 2010 hit -- which, let's be honest, wasn't very good, either -- that manages to have zero laughs despite the presence of nearly every comedic actor working.
Sandler plays Lenny, a family man who has moved back to his small midwest hometown.
The return home doesn't just allow his family a chance at a simpler life, it gives Lenny the opportunity to reconnect with his childhood friends Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Marcus (David Spade) and discover that not much has really changed since he was a young boy.
"Grown Ups 2" claims to have three writers (including Sandler), but you would never know it while watching the film. It all feels painfully made up on the fly, with everything getting thrown on screen to see what sticks.
The film begins with a gag that involves a moose peeing on everyone, and it never gets better. Between the jokes that cover practically every bodily function imaginable and awkwardly sentimental moments that feel totally out of place, you get an endless stream of cameos -- from Shaquille O'Neal and Dan Patrick to "Saturday Night Live" alums Jon Lovitz and Colin Quinn. Only former WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin elicits anything close to a smile, as Lenny's lifelong archnemesis.
It all seems like a sad excuse for Sandler to find work for every friend he has ever had. If Sandler was any kind of friend, he would have put these people in a better movie. Instead they all get to be part of what has become an annual occurrence -- Sandler being part of at least one of the worst films of the year.
Also in theaters
While "Grown Ups 2" fails on nearly every level, this week's other high profile release, "Pacific Rim" (B-), is a modest success. The latest from director Guillermo del Toro (the man behind the "Hellboy" franchise and "Pan's Labyrinth") is a weird mesh of science fiction films that somehow comes together to be a fun bit of escapism.
The premise is like a cross between "Transformers" and "Godzilla," with creatures from other planets arriving through the floor of the Pacific Ocean and wreaking havoc on Earth. The only defense is a special type of weapon -- massive robots controlled by two pilots who are joined together telepathically.
The war reaches a critical stage as the aliens are on the verge of taking control of the planet, until the head of the weapons unit (Idris Elba) turns to a former pilot named Raliegh (Charlie Hunnam) and a young woman named Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) to perhaps turn the tide back in the human's favor.
"Pacific Rim" gets off to a slow start, with lots of backstory to set up the slightly complex plot. At first I wondered if del Toro could bring it together, and my patience was rewarded when the film finally hit its stride in the second half.
Between some impressive visual battles and some bizarre comic relief from Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman, "Pacific Rim" evolves into a fun bit of summer fluff.
"Pacific Rim" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action, violence throughout and brief language and is playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.
-- To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton's up-to-the minute thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also email him at email@example.com.
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