Tuesday, August 24, 2010

GROWN UPS - Light and Family-Friendly

GROWN UPS (comedy)
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph
Director: Dennis Dugan
Writers: Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

SNL buddies: Rock, James, Schneider, Spade and Sandler

I must confess that I had not thought much of Grown Ups, judging from its trailer I saw in the US. I mean, what
hopes could I have for an Adam Sandler flick that reunites his Saturday Night Live buddies of the early Nineties at a lake resort for a 4th of July holiday? It barely has a storyline, much less a plot - and it reminded me of the disappointing vacation film Couples Retreat (2009).

This is why I was pleasantly surprised when I got about 10 minutes into Grown Ups and found it funny enough to be entertaining instead of just tolerable. Indeed, it is one of the BETTER Sandler films I have seen in a long while...

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Five members of a junior high basketball team, Lenny (Adam Sandler), Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (David Spade), and Rob (Rob Schneider) gather at a posh lakeside resort for the funeral of their former coach. The coach is special to the five pals because he had led the then 12-year-olds to the only victory of their sporting lives.

Now, 30 years later, Lenny is a hotshot Hollywood agent married to fashion designer Roxanne (Salma Hayek, right) and have three spoilt brats; Eric is married to Sally (Maria Bello) who is still breastfeeding their four-year-old son; Kurt is a house-husband under the control of his wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph) and mother-in-law; Rob is 'happily' married to Gloria (Joyce Van Patten) a Sixties-era hippie old enough to be his mother; and Marcus is still single because he doesn't seem to have grown up!

HITS & MISSES: Unlike his previous films, where Sandler aims way below the belt to get the laughs, he is more matured (or grown-up) and less subversive here. Most of the laughs are pursued at the expense of the five friends, especially Schneider's Rob who has three eye-catching teenage daughters. Oh yes, Steve Buscemi also shows up for a bit of 'punishment', Sandler-style, of course. The much-touted backside-baring scene of David Spade has been snipped.

Other jibes are at how kids of today are addicted to the TV and Playstations; at how a bunch of 40-somethings try to relive the old days by doing stuff they did when they were 12; etc. Director Dennis Dugan, a longtime Sandler co-conspirator, seems content to let the comedians do their schtick and as a result, we get lots of friendly banter that endear us to the five pals. With the comedic duties spread among them, each is allowed to shine, even for 'try-too-hard-to-be-funny' Schneider.

The movie opens with a basketball game - and it predictably ends with one too.

THE LOWDOWN: Grown Ups is mainly for men who like their beer and comedy light.


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