Film: Grown Ups 2
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Sequels are a dime a dozen these days, and if Grown Ups 2 proves anything it’s that plot and substance are not factors studios consider when attempting to launch a franchise.
Picking up the summer following their move back to New England, Grown Ups 2 opens with Adam Sandler and his family living in a Massachusetts’s home that easily sits somewhere in the six or seven figure range price wise. The opening gag involves a moose wandering into Sandler’s bedroom and pissing on his face. Sitting in my screening, it was at this moment I began to fear for what my eyes would endure in the ninety minutes that lie ahead, but fortunately things didn’t get much worse (or better).
Following a series of introduction sequences that let you know everyone is pretty much how you left them at the end of Grown Ups , GU2 takes its sweet time going essentially nowhere. The gang regroups thanks to a subplot that features an alcoholic and sexually confused Nick Swardson, which admittedly offers moments of humor, then travel around their town while reflecting on being parents and running into cameos from a variety of familiar faces (including Shaq and Stone Cold Steve Austin). There are sequences with Sandler’s kids getting into trouble for the sake of setting up a handful of coming-of-age moments, but the film is stretched too thin between its list of characters to develop anything of value. Instead viewers are offered glimpses of a story about a family growing closer by growing as individuals spliced into what feels like a disconnected sequence of gag scenes that miss far more often than hit.
People who don’t like Adam Sandler movies will not like Grown Ups 2, but that should not come as a surprise to anyone. The real shock, at least for me, is seeing how little Sandler and his crew of notable names seem to care that the film they’ve made has no point, purpose, or story to tell. All four main cast members have had success as comedians for more than two decades, yet you’d be hard pressed to find an interest in being genuinely funny from anyone in the film. It’s as if everyone got paid up front, then filmed their scenes with the knowledge their performance wouldn’t matter because they had already been compensated. This takes the viewer’s love for the cast for granted, and in doing so creates an empty viewing experience.
If Grown Ups 2 tried any harder to force humor into its lifeless script it would be considered aggravated assault. There may be a handful of scenes worth chuckling over, but as a whole it’s a feature that pays no mind to plot or purpose, and instead assumes throwing pretty faces at the camera is enough to justify you having spent $10+ wasting an evening. I tend to disagree, and personally feel sequels owe it to fans to further the universe created in the fist film, even if only in tiny ways. Grown Ups 2 fails to do this, and in fact thrives on its immaturity, which in turn will leave you walking out feeling the same as you did going in: Hungry for actual entertainment.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)