I have a hunch that if you didn’t enjoy the first Grown Ups, then you’ll find even less to like here. I’d been waning on the Sandler schmaltz in the years leading up to that film, but I thought all the elements came together for a breezy 90 minutes of infantile humor with The Expendables of comedy. Grown Ups 2 offers more of the same, sometimes too much. A few bits are directly recycled form the original, but the camaraderie and overall up-beat tone make for an enjoyable trip back to the well.
Lenny (Adam Sandler) and his insanely disproportionately attractive wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek), something the film itself pokes fun at, are now living a seemingly ideal life in Lenny’s hometown. It is the last day of the school year for his kids and the on-coming summer is sure to be filled with a calendar of events. While the earlier film took place over the course of a week, this installment transpires during one-long day/night. Aided and essentially egged on by his buddies Eric (Kevin James) and Kurt (Chris Rock), both family men dealing with domestic issues. Eric is lying to his wife about the time he spends at his mother’s house and Kurt is dealing with his daughter’s first dating experiences. Then there is the rascal wanna-be Lothario Marcus (David Spade), who has recently discovered the existence of a teenage son with a bad attitude. None of the material is trailblazing, but I don’t think audiences come to Adam Sandler comedies looking for a spark of originality or character development.
If you see the three star rating and roll your eyes in contention, just remember I placed Jack and Jill on my worst of 2011 list. That’s My Boy, while a commercial and critical disaster, is a howler that will grow in popularity on cable over the years. Yet, it is this Grown Ups franchise that truly is emblematic of the modern-day Sandler persona; affable, wild-man turned family man who just wants to hang with the boys and be a good Dad. This is the first sequel the comedian has appeared in and the series shows no signs of stopping, the whole enterprise is so slight it feels mostly ad-libbed. All of which only add to the fun atmosphere, the audience gets the feeling that these actors enjoy each others humor and egos are in check on-set.
Cynics will cry that this is yet another production revolving around Sandler and his friends on vacation. Vince Vaughn has been pulling off the same schtick for years, less successfully I might add, and nobody yells afoul. Nearly two decades of films from the former SNL stand-out should prepare you for the expected experience. Grown Ups 2 is summertime cinematic comfort food, and I eat it up.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Stars: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James