Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grown Ups 2

Directed by Dennis Dugan.
2013. Rated PG-13, 101 minutes.
Maria Bello
Colin Quinn
Tim Meadows
Jon Lovitz
Shaquille O’Neal

If you loved Grown Ups, you’re in luck. The whole gang is back for another comic adventure through their collective mid-life crisis. Well, almost the whole gang. Rob Schneider is conspicuously absent from this little reunion. The rest of the guys are present, though. This time around, big shot Lenny (Sandler) has already moved back to his hometown and spends as much time as possible goofing off with his buddies Kurt (Rock), Marcus (Spade), and Eric (James). They talk tough when their wives are not around and long to be boys again. Lenny is still having problems with an old bully from his school days. James is secretly spending every afternoon watching soaps with his mother. Spade, the only bachelor of the bunch, finds out he has a son who looks just like him but is roughly three times his size. So is the female body-builder he’s been sneaking around with. Rock just kind of shadw Sandler. As a group, they find themselves at odds with the frat jerks from the local college, led by the overly obnoxious Andy (Lautner). The guys, trying to figure out if they can still kick a little ass ensues.

As expected, each storyline is a running gag. Sometimes they work, other times they don’t. It might be better if it weren’t so repetitive. Therefore, what might be funny early grows tired. We start to anticipate, with solid accuracy, what variation of the joke is coming next. It doesn’t help that almost any character that is not part of the big four, or their wives, are walking punch-lines. I’ve already mentioned that Lautner is obnoxious. The female bodybuilder is manly, Stone Cold Steve Austin is boorish, and so on. Since this is an Adam Sandler flick, Nick Swardson is hanging around. The wives all play into the stereotype that the women we marry are really just our second mothers. So as not to upset the apple cart our story is paint-by-numbers, too.

That said, there is a certain amount of charm to the movie. For all of their flaws and immaturity, these are likable guys. Okay, that’s debatable in Spade’s case. Even though they play out in way over-the-top fashion, their problems are not terribly different than many in the target audience. Plenty of us forty-somethings have moments when we attempt to recapture our youth by trying to do “guy” stuff without our wives knowing. Plenty of us seek an innocent reprieve from them on occasion. Oddly, Sandler himself is a huge help in this regard. Despite the fact his character is wealthy and married to Salma Hayek (drool), he manages to give off a regular joe vibe. In essence, he speaks in his normal voice and gives us his subdued routine. The others make fools of themselves while he generally plays it straight.

Like with all Sandler movies, use however you feel about his other work as an aid when deciding whether to watch this or not. It would be wise to ignore the ones where he speaks with a kooky voice with a dumb accent and/or wears a wig such as That’s My Boy or You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Instead, focus on your thoughts about those movies where he is more generic and family friendly like Bedtime Stories, Just Go With It, Click, and of course, the first Grown Ups. If he is tolerable to you in this guise then you might enjoy Grown Ups 2. Personally, I didn’t hate it and honestly found myself laughing more than I expected.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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