(At least they’re laughing.)
There was a time that Adam Sandler could do no wrong. His name on a film was a stamp of funny. But then there was Funny People. Ok, so Adam Sandler could do no wrong in comedy. His serious films were, well, serious. But then there was Grown Ups. Five fan-favourite comedians in a secluded lake house for a weekend. Hilarious, right? Eh, not so much. But this was supposed to be Sandler! This was Mr. Deeds, Billy Madison, Little Nicky, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore! What went wrong? Too much comedic competition? Too much pre-hype? Sandler is growing up? Let’s all hope it’s not the last one. Maybe all it needed was to be named after his character. But it couldn’t have been because it would have stolen from Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider. Maybe that’s the problem; Sandler isn’t an ensemble actor. Funny People had Sandler working against Seth Rogan, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman. Maybe Sandler just doesn’t make Sandler films anymore.
Grown Ups follows a junior high championship-winning basketball team as they reunite 30 years later for their coach’s funeral and decide to spend the weekend together with each other and their fams. Over the weekend, they relive childhood memories, help their kids build better ones (sans texting and iPods) and rekindle flames with their wives.
One of the biggest problems with an ensemble comedy is that someone will always be the funniest and in this film, it was James by far. With his KFC hat and goofy dances, he’s hilarious. Even Spade was funnier than Sandler and Rock, the two with the biggest fan bases for their hall-of-fame-worthy comedy. So Spade played the drunken perv chasing after Rob’s (Schneider–his character is also named Rob) daughters. None of the other four could have done it better.
Another problem with this film was that Sandler fans saw it as a Sandler film and aside from the fact that there were four other stars, nothing else in this film seemed to sway us otherwise. It clearly wasn’t a Rock movie, Spade has been in the background too long and James hasn’t established the “James” film yet. It was a Happy Madison film so right from the start, Sandler fans thought that this was going to be good. It also means Happy Madison faces: Norm Macdonald, Steve Buscemi, Blake Clark and Jonathan Loughran. The trouble with this is that Grown Ups wasn’t actually a Sandler film in the way that The Waterboy and Big Daddy were. It was more of a Sandler-and-famous-friends film forced into the shoe of a Sandler film.
Although it might have been a bit of a disappointed for Sandler fans, it wasn’t terrible. Against most other comedies out there right now, it’s worth a watch, just not a dozen re-watches like Billy Madison.