Judd: It seems that Hollywood actors have finally figured out that they can get a studio to finance a vacation at beautiful locales under the premise of shooting a movie. Last year we had Couples Retreat with the perpetually sweaty Vince Vaughn. This year audiences are paying for Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and various other SNL alum to take a trip up to New England in the family comedy Grown Ups.
Swanner: I was going to make the same comparison but I think Vince Vaughn must have more box office pull because his location was much nicer and there were no kids. The film is almost a remake of The Big Chill, a group of old friends come together for a funeral and decide to spend the weekend together to catch-up on old times. Believe me, that’s where the comparisons end. Director Dennis Dugan and the Sandler crowd deliver a not-so-funny comedy that appears to have been written by a couple of five year olds.
Judd: I disagree that Vaughn has more pull hence the lack of children. Sandler has always relied on children for cheap and easy sentimentality; Grown Ups rapes the audience with cute right off the bat when Sandler’s 6 year old daughter confesses to tampering with his Cadillac’s nav system in order to get directions to heaven. Cue the “Awww”. Its this kind of lazy schmaltz that plagues the whole movie, but also gets the target audience to reach for the Kleenex.
Swanner: That was the first time we actually laughed out loud during the movie. The schmaltz was deep but not surprising seeing that Sandler was one of the five year olds that wrote the script. Sandler has always tried to set good examples in his movies but here he’s force feeding morality in between fart jokes and it just didn’t work. With a capable cast and director you really have to put the blame on the script. It’s awful. The actors were trying to make something out of the poorly written characters. James is the Fatty, Rock is the Black, Schneider is short, Spade is creepy and of course Sandler is most athletic, handsome, has the hottest wife and is very successful…but then I’d be that way too if I wrote the script.
Judd: There are some funny moments scattered throughout the movie – some of the insults the Sandler crew lob at each other are very funny. But when the script calls for a minimum of 20 insults per minute, odds are good you’re going to have one or two successes out of 2,000. You nailed it on the head that the characters are all stereotypes – it goes further than that because the whole movie is based on an amalgam of stereotypes. There is not one iota of creative originality in this movie, but that’s what the target audience craves – uniformity. There are no shockers, you know what to expect and that’s exactly what you get. This movie exists for the same reason there are nine Applebee’s and ten Chili’s in Sacramento County.
Swanner: As moral as the script gets, it’s interesting that they never learn to tone down the way they treat each other. We know that bug lights are cruel but hurling unoriginal old age jokes at veteran actress Joyce Van Patten is just fine and dating a friend’s adult daughter is wrong, but ogling at them from an Adirondack chair with your buddies is OK. Even worse is when the less attractive daughter shows up its fine to turn your backs to her. I know its comedy but if you’re up on your high horse then you should hold that standard for the entire script and not just where it concerns a 6 year old because that same 6 year old is watching her father pick on all his friends. So what lesson was really learned?
Judd: We learned through David Spade’s character that it isn’t right nor is it fair for a 40 something year old single man to enjoy his freedom. You are allowed to tease and berate him, which is really only a thin disguise for your envy and resentment, as long as at the end of the day you condescend him for being shallow and pity him because there is no way he will ever be as happy as a married couple with children. Right? Right?