A scene from "Grown Ups 2"
I did not get to watch the first "Grown Ups" in 2010, but I knew it was a successful comedy at the box-office back then. This sequel, a first for star Adam Sandler, actually beat "Pacific Rim" at the box office in its first week of release. The trailer for "Grown Ups 2" that I saw was funny so I guess the whole movie would be as well.
But that is not exactly what happened.
"Grown Ups 2" has Lenny (Sandler) coming back to live in the old suburban community where he grew up. So in that way, he gets to spend more time with his old buddies in a way Sandler famously does -- stupidly.
There is no plot to talk about. We follow Lenny and his gang -- Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Marcus (David Spade) -- in their raunchy and rowdy shenanigans at the neighborhood K-Mart, at their old swimming hole now claimed by bratty frat boys, and finally at a wild 1980s themed party in Lenny's house.
We meet their respective wives (Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph) and kids, as well as various strange schoolmates (the drunk bus driver, the bald guy, the cross-eyed guy, the maniacal cop, the guy who got stuck selling ice cream, the gym teacher who wears short shorts), along the way. Everything felt so random, lazily put-together episodes.
The kind of humor is also so random, anything goes. There was animal humor about a wayward stag that entered Lenny's house. (This CG animal must have eaten up the bulk of this film's budget.) There was a lot of body function humor, including one about a burp-sneeze-fart combination which they repeated ad nauseam. There was also a lot of green humor, ranging from boob jokes to gay jokes. Unfortunately, there were more misses than hits. The LOLs were few and far between. I do feel the best funny parts were already in the trailer!
I must say that Shaquille O'Neal was actually hilarious in his role as a gentle giant cop. He did not come off as annoying, as compared to the other odd people in town, especially his unfunny brother whose whole family keeps saying "Whaaaat?"
Taylor Lautner seemed to have lost some of his "Twilight" muscle mass when surrounded by those bulkier frat boys. Was he really the one doing all those backflips and flying kicks, or were those special effects (yeah, right)? He too was funny, perhaps unintentionally, with all his hyper-macho posturing.
I did enjoy the hip music, colorful costumes and pop references at the '80s party, even if that ended in a poorly choreographed free-for-all brawl scene. It was also good to see Georgia Engel on the big screen as Eric's mom, as sweet as I remember her on "The Love Boat."
The most disappointing element in this film is Adam Sandler himself. He was so laid back here, he actually looked lazy on screen. I do not know what happened to this guy. Many of his movies were so hilarious and had a delightful charm about them, like "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "Wedding Singer," "50 First Dates." I even liked "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," offensive as that one may be. But here, he is not even trying to do anything, and it obviously shows. A lot of his jokes were falling flat, compared to the others in the cast.
So, in short, while there are good and funny parts, the whole is not satisfactory. Everyone will find a little something to enjoy, but they maybe not be enough for your money's worth. 3/10.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."