Vanity is not exactly an uncommon trait among celebs, which is why letting them loose in the movie brainstorming-by-committee boardroom is likely an ill-advised idea. Witness two films currently hitting the screens. First, regal Brit Helen Mirren directed by hubby Taylor Hackford as first choice to play a tough talking Vegas brothel babe-in-charge, I kid you not. And then Adam Sandler hitting the laptop keyboard as fellow scribe for Grown Ups, a comedy about, well, Adam Sandler.
Based extensively not only on Sandler’s coming of age reminiscences but his midlife crisis in confrontation with problematic parenting, the ironically titled Grown Ups is auto-biopic grossout veering into home movies territory, that should have maybe been confined there. Okay, so you’re caught in an identity crisis between being a dirty joke kinda guy and doing the authoritarian dad thing, we get it already!
Directed by Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry) and written by Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf, Grown Ups stars a bunch of Sandler’s pals who play a bunch of Sandler’s pals. Lining up to compete for oneupmanship in flexing their arrested development skills, are Marcus (David Spade) a suspect professional slacker with no visible means of support; Kevin James as Eric, an underachiever furniture salesman with a possible bladder problem, stuck with a wife succumbing to serious (and repetitive) breastfeeding separation anxiety issues, though appreciatively noticed by his male buddies; Kurt (Chris Rock), a flustered house husband regularly nagged at home by everybody about his domestic duties found consistently lacking; Rob Schneider as Rob, the sex nut trophy boy toy vegan spouse married to an older woman (Joyce Van Patten); and Sandler as Lenny, a famous Hollywood agent saddled with entitlement challenged kids who could be even more spoiled than his clients, along with a frosty fashion designer wife (Salma Hayek).
The low energy narrative centers around a getaway reunion of these childhood friends to share memories of their departed school basketball coach, who supposedly shepherded them into manhood. And while the gabby ensemble lounges about providing more mutually supportive laugh tracks than actual laughs, rotund mother-in-law flatulence jokes abound to presumably fill in the creative void, wouldn’t you know it.
1 [out of 4] stars