Title: Grown Ups 2
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Just about all of Adam Sandler’s friends.
Here’s some advice if you’re going to see Grown Ups 2: Stroll into the movie about 8 minutes late.
If heed this advice, you’ll witness 94 minutes that showcase a semi-return to form for Adam Sandler and friends. And by friends, I mean everyone (from a Colin Quinn sighting to a surprising larger-than-cameo Shaquille O’Neal) you expect to be in this is, save for Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon, and Norm MacDonald.
Dennis Dugan, Sandler’s directing choice for the first installment (and many other failed Happy Madison products that have splattered on the screen the last seven years), knew how to piece what is essentially an anthology of slapstick skits, and make it flow. The scribbling threesome of Sandler, Fred Wolf, and Tim Herlihy actually improved upon what yours truly though was a decent script back in 2010. Going with more shenanigans and sliding away from forcing in the predictable “learn something” element, not only works, but incrementally receives a better reception from the viewer as the “story” moves forward.
We pick up with the gang comprised of childhood friends all living in their hometown once again. Each of them (Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade) are dealing with mild “my life is over” thoughts. For instance, Sandler’s wife (Salma Hayek wants to pop out another kid; Kevin James doesn’t feel loved by his MILF-of-a-wife (Maria Bello) – and his kid is apparently a moron; Rock is nervous about his high school kids dating and having a social life; and Spade, well, he just found out he had a bastard son – who’s his polar-opposite – via a fling from years ago who is coming to hang with him for the summer.
The entire more-or-less small town tour takes place over a full day where the central crew comes together early on and then methodically ends up crossing paths with a host of eclectic characters (made-up from a blend of SNL cameos and other recognizable stars from the Sandler movie fraternity). It somehow all culminates into a giant ‘80s themed party at the end, though in the middle, the fellas end up in a cheesy turf war with local obnoxious frat boys (picture the home-for-summer-college tools that crowd the trendy bar scene in your respective town) led by Taylor Lautner.
While some of the skits/punch-lines are predictable, the hustling roster of talented comedians (past and present) will trigger laughing-with-noise moments many times over. Everyone is really clicking when the script occasionally mocks the behavioral traits/differences of today’s college-kid generation. And the majority of scenes never drag out even though, in typical Sandler fashion, they will beat a running joke to death (play over/under 10 minutes until you hear the first fart joke with whoever sees this with you). The tone of the humor can be Seinfeld-like in some sequences (safe and wholesomely edgy) to throwback Sandler-raunchy that tickles the R-rated bone in others. Guess that means everyone found that ideal balance to please all his hopeful followers who have painfully stuck with him the last decade-n-change.
To toss out a comparison, this kind of feels like 1989’s Parenthood, minus the reflective scenes and typical fuzzy come together moments (a.k.a. cohesive linear story). What that translates to: while the crude funny boys have grown up, they engage in enough turn-back-the-clock instances, and just plain randomness (thank you Nick Swardson), that wills you to buy into and surprisingly enjoy their modern vibe.
Bottom line: Grown Ups 2 reverts back to immaturity…and it works.