Title: Grown Ups
Director: Dennis Dugan
Writers: Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider
Released: 17th January 2011
Duration: 102 minutes
Adam Sandler has been in some extremely funny films such as The Wedding Singer. He showed real straight acting ability in films such as Punch Drunk Love and Reign Over Me and often a fantastic comedian on screen in films such as You Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Bedtime Stories, but he does need a good script. That’s important, because without a strong script and quite probably a strong director his work can slide somewhat – consider Spanglish, The Longest Yard and Bullet Proof.
His supporting players in Grown Ups are what many viewers would consider to be an all-star cast of comedic heavyweights – Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Chris Rock (Death at a Funeral) and Rob Schneider (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan) as well as David Spade, Salma Hayek and Maria Bello. Many of them have co-starred with Sandler before so Grown Ups feels like a group of old friends getting back together… and that’s the point… Gathering to mourn the passing of their beloved basketball coach, five childhood best friends and teammates reunite at the summer lake house where they celebrated their biggest championship victory thirty years earlier. And to this extent the film succeeds. The group dynamic is strong, believable and the quips and gags between the guys are funny and fresh. However there are several cases of overly-crude humour and the script is to put it kindly – meandering at best. There is a lack of focus.
So we have a mixed bag as a result. There are some fun moments and even plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and there is even a positive, poignant twist at the end, but there is also a huge chunk of the film in the middle act that goes nowhere and does nothing, and at 102 minutes the film could have been trimmed to avoid this. Director Dennis Dugan (a long-time collaborator with Sandler on some of his less impressive films such as Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) could probably have done something to help the matter, but one imagines him being over-awed by his leading man and his red-blooded male cast members.
But look at the stats and they tell a happy story for the producers. Made for $80M this film grossed over $270M at the box-office alone. Sandler and friends are still kings at the box office and no doubt this DVD will sell very well also, I just can’t help but think that all of the people involved in this film have done much better work and that this lowest-common-denominator comedy is below them.
A genuinely positive note is the quality of the blu-ray transfer, colours are rich, and the transfer is clean and sharp. It’s a really great looking film. The bonus features are also good, including behind-the-scenes featurettes with cast and crew, deleted scenes, blooper reels, gag reels and a feature-length director’s commentary, which should be plenty for anyone.