Starring: Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Maria Bello (Rated PG – 101 min).
I would assume even long-time Adam Sandler aficionados are getting frustrated by the mediocre films he keeps wheeling out to an ever hopeful fan-base still clutching onto his glory days of ‘Happy Gilmore’ and ‘The Wedding Singer’. Even after over a decade of pleading globally from dedicated ‘Billy Madison’ fans, until now he has never done a sequel. So with original cast intact joined by a few extra sidekicks, the seasonal family fun of Grown Ups is rehashed, literally, it’s almost like watching the 2010 original only set in a different location.
Having had the time of his life reconnecting with best friends and their families, Lenny (Sandler) returns back to his hometown only to find out bullies never change. He becomes fearful of the surroundings and with the help of his buddies, tries to restore decency. A bunch of generation Y college brats from the rambunctious local fraternity are part of the problem and don’t take lightly to the ‘responsible’ grown ups, who realistically are as juvenile as their younger counterparts. Less comical, more cynical, most of the laughs come at the expense of integrity, while mostly mean spirited characters at times spoil the fun ambience for a supposed family comedy.
As a collective, the boys still reminisce about the 80s, compare marriages, describe what it feels like to be older and sneak life’s pleasures like an extra beer here or there. There is a message of anti-bullying weaved into proceedings which was commendable considering the lunacy of the plot. The real positive is the rapport of the entire cast, obviously trusting friends behind the scenes which transcends comfortably onto to big screen. The hopelessly lumbering screenplay only slightly contrasting to the original is the let down.
Parents be warned when legendary comedian Jon Lovitz (Hamburger; The motion picture) appears on screen as a perverted character who likes to hang around yoga classes. Actually quite a few risqué moments of a lighter variety seem to be in the plot without purpose. Former werewolf Taylor Lautner makes a rare post Twilight appearance. Also in the younger portion of the cast is son of the Arnold the Austrian Oak, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Victoria’s Secret model Erin Heatherton stretching her extraordinary acting ability as head cheerleader, Ginger.
Sandler can act, (Yes, I just said that) – Punch Drunk Love proved this. Grown Ups 2 is simply a suitable time filler for uncritical school holiday audiences, however die hard Sandler fans won’t give him too many more chances to rekindle that old ‘Airheads’ comedy magic.
Shane A. Bassett