by Corey Hall
Don't expect any real growth in Grown Ups, which finds five slowly aging comedy stars acting like hormonal middle-schoolers and bluffing their way through what appears to be a flimsy excuse to take a lake vacation on the studio's dime. Of course, you also shouldn't expect anything resembling a plot, narrative thrust, competent direction, smartly written dialogue or, really, any sort of effort.
Adam Sandler basically gathered a cadre of his famous cronies, invited them over for pick-up basketball and an extended pool party, and declared this home movie good enough to open on thousands of multiplex screens. Who can blame them?
Considering the mountains of cash Wild Hogs collected, the market has been established for the goofy middle-aged bros-gone-wild-genre, a format that Sandler and company can squeeze out in their sleep. The results are exactly the sort of inside-jokey, juvenile and glorified skit you may imagine, which isn't as fun for the audience as it is the cast.
The rudimentary story finds a team of youth basketball champs, reunited for the funeral of their beloved coach. This sad passing manages to harsh their mellow for upward of five or 10 minutes, before these oversized lads resume fart-giggling and giving each other noogies. The alleged "humor" revolves around breast milk, flatulent dogs and grandmas, vegans, man-boobs, regular boobs, and more "pee-pee" jokes than you'd hear in the back of the fifth grade bus. Chris Rock continues to be a dreadful screen presence, but he's generally covered by the ineptitude surrounding him. The 50ish David Spade is especially creepy as the unmarried playboy chasing young skirts, even if they are his friends' daughters. Spade gets kicked in the nuts and slapped around, and Rob Schneider takes even more abuse; but, hey, it's work.
Salma Hayek and Maria Bello are on hand to wear bikinis and gripe, but Maya Rudolph gets all the laughs as Rock's sassy pregnant wife.
At least the "take time for the simple things" moralizing is fairly muted, though life's true lessons probably require a script not scribbled on a bar napkin. There are worse ways to kill an hour and a half than watching these funny guys goof off, and if you think they've grown fat and sassy with age, keep in mind that these dudes were just as glib and self-satisfied as young turks.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.