?The party?s over, fellas,? Adam Sandler?s character, Lenny, says to his buddies in Grown Ups 2. ?We?re irrelevant.? And though the box office may disagree, his words aren?t far from the truth. The first Grown Ups, in 2010, grossed more than $271 million worldwide; the sequel will probably rival that amount, reaping lavish dividends for Sandler and his co-stars, many of them his fellow Saturday Night Live alumni. Once again Sandler milks middle age for lucre, nostalgia and clunky, ham-fisted humor. But he has cause for concern.
As often happens in follow-ups to hit movies, connective logic flies out the window: Lenny and his family have now left Los Angeles for his New England hometown, and his friends - girthy Eric (Kevin James), henpecked Kurt (Chris Rock) and randy, single Marcus (David Spade) - seem to have moved onto the block. Three are joined by their wives (portrayed by Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph, all talented performers slumming here). The SNL parade continues with Jon Lovitz, Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn in smaller parts. (Playing a pronounced corporate supporting role: Kmart.)
There are numerous plot threads, woven haphazardly. Spade?s character meets his son, a delinquent raised by a distant ex; Sandler objects to his wife?s desire for another child; James feels ignored by his spouse; and Rock has earned a ?get out of jail free? pass from his missus for a day because he remembered their 20th anniversary. Husbands, you see, are oppressed; wives are demanding.
Oh, a gang of fraternity lunks threatens the boys for daring to swim in their cherished childhood quarry lake. When Lenny throws an '80s-themed costume party (pop goes the nostalgia!), the Greeks invade, and a free-for-all commences in which age battles callow youth and townies fight collegians (dubious class warfare conducted on Lenny?s expansive property). For humor, there is flatulence and urination (favored motifs from the first installment), belching, vomiting, simulated defecation, abundant leering and jokes about mannish women and feminine men.
This is pap, plain and simple: scattered raunch-lite devoid of emotional resonance. At best, it sells itself on the spectacle of a TV show?s cast reunion - and even then it disappoints. With the debacles of That?s My Boy and Jack and Jill, Sandler has increasingly squandered his comic capital. His onetime SNL brethren do themselves few favors - beyond a paycheck - by working in his orbit.
GROWN UPS 2
Directed by Dennis Dugan; written by Fred Wolf, Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy; director of photography, Theo Van de Sande; edited by Tom Costain; music by Rupert Gregson-Williams; production design by Aaron Osborne; costumes by Ellen Lutter; produced by Sandler and Jack Giarraputo; released by Columbia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.
With: Adam Sandler (Lenny Feder), Kevin James (Eric Lamonsoff), Chris Rock (Kurt McKenzie), David Spade (Marcus Higgins), Salma Hayek (Roxanne Chase-Feder), Maya Rudolph (Deanne McKenzie), Maria Bello (Sally Lamonsoff), Nick Swardson (Nick), Colin Quinn (Dickie Bailey), Tim Meadows (Malcolm), Shaquille O?Neal (Officer Fluzoo), Alexander Ludwig (Braden), Georgia Engel (Mrs. Lamonsoff) and Alexys Nicole Sanchez (Becky Feder).
Grown Ups 2 is rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned). Bikinis and bodily functions.
? 2013 New York Times News Service