GROWN UPS 2. Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Salma Hayek. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Rated PG (Mild crude humour, violence, sexual references, nudity and coarse language). 98 min.
This American comedy film is a sequel to the 2010 movie, "Grown Ups" which was directed by the same person who directed this movie (Dennis Dugan) and stars four of the same main players. Some years have passed since the events of the first movie, and Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler), now a highly successful Hollywood Producer, has moved with his wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek) and their three children, back to Connecticut where he first grew up.
Lenny continues his comic adventures with his former high school classmates, Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Christ Rock) and Marcus (David Spade) on the last day of the school year. Children in their families are causing their parents trouble. For example, Marcus' new-found-son is extremely thuggish and has anger management problems, and Lenny's son is being accused of being a wimp and gives in too readily to bullies. The movie zeros in on multiple targets for its humour. To illustrate its breadth of range, the film singles out a disabled bus driver for the purpose of derision, and the film makes ugly fun of him.
The comedy in the movie revolves mainly around the surprises that the children have in store for their parents who have never thought seriously that their children were actually growing up. It exposes us to a series of sketches as the film roams broadly from one supposedly comic situation to another.
The film is crude and coarse in its delivery and execution, and a great deal of emphasis is put on bodily functions and puerile humour. The film carries the usual classification warning (see above), but with the advice to parents this movie gives, it is surprising that it has earned just a PG rating. This is a movie where much of the material in it seems inappropriate for children's viewing.
On the surface, the film happily promotes positive family values, but highlights low-brow crudity as a preferred alternative, and it is scripted very poorly. It is virtually plot-less and presents a series of comedy sketches that goes steadily downhill after a deer walks into Sandler's bedroom at home and urinates on his face. Much of the film's humour is gross, lewd and suggestive, as the movie moves from one scene to another searching for possible laughs. Many of the sight gags focus on toilet functions, in one form or another.
This is not a movie that rubbishes marital or parental relationships, and it shows at times how hard it is to be a good parent, but any moral messages for parents lose out entirely to the titillation of scenes that are intent on exposing viewers to padded genitals, gyrating backsides, sexual leering, questionable imagery about gender bending, and the ridiculing of disabled people. Tolerance for alcohol is unusually high among adults, children and animals.
The film is less a movie about growing up than a film about growing old where adults make fools of themselves in ways that make every use they can of their body parts. Given the major emphases of the humour in the film, it seems possible that the movie could be aiming to make some perverse artistic statement that ultimately tries to make an intelligent comic point, but one fears that this is not so. This is a film intentionally directed to be offensive to get its laughs.
The tag line for the original movie, "Grown Ups," was "some guys need a little extra time to mature." That time has clearly not yet arrived. The original movie was reviewed critically when it appeared four years ago (see review of it on this web-site), and this movie seems headed for the same reception. The first one, however, made a lot of money. It remains to be seen whether lessons have been learnt in the mean-time.
Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Out September 26th 2013.