Comedy takes many different forms and Adam Sandler has gone from childish to “grown up” as he tackles a more adult film while continuing to bring the laughs. Grown Ups is the latest collaboration between Sandler and his go-to director, Dennis Dugan.
The film begins with the younger versions of the five main characters. The children are playing basketball and on the verge of winning the championship. After winning, the team and their families go to a lake house for a celebratory dinner where their coach gives them an inspired speech. The movie then cuts to 30 years later and things are much different for the five characters.
Lenny (Sandler) is now living in a mansion in Beverly Hills with his wife, played by Salma Hayek Pinault. He has two spoiled sons, who can’t seem to function without their maid and Blackberry’s. Lenny receives a call informing him that his childhood basketball coach has died and he prepares to go to the funeral. The other four men get the same call and they meet up at the service for the first time in years.
Eric (Kevin James) is living a suburban life with his kids and wife, played by Maria Bello. He pulls up to the funeral in a Cadillac in the hopes of impressing his childhood buddies. Kurt (Chris Rock) is a stay-at-home dad, while his wife, played by Maya Rudolph, is the bread-winner of the family. In an obvious role reversal, Kurt is hurt by the lack of emotion from his wife and the constant pestering of her mother-in-law.
Marcus (David Spade) is the eternal bachelor, who still finds pleasure in drinking binges and random hook-ups. Rob (Rob Schneider) is a new age guru, who believes in organic foods and healthy living. His wife, played by Joyce Van Patten, is a few decades older than he is and provides much comic relief for his friends.
The group of friends decide that the best way to honor their deceased coach is to go back to where they had the fondest memories of him – the lake house. With their families in tow, the men plan for an event-filled weekend. They spend dinners together, where they happen to run into the team that they beat in basketball 30 years prior. The team members, led by Dickie (Colin Quinn), are still living in the past and want an opportunity for a rematch.
Lenny is determined to show his sons a different way of life, more like the one he had growing up, where there weren’t cell phones and normal kid activities included being outside. The rest of the guys are all going through some form of mid-life crisis, whether it be job related or having to do with their families.
I wouldn’t say that this film is a departure for Sandler, but it definitely has a more emotional feeling to it then some of his past films. Those expecting the Billy Madison humor will be disappointed, but I think this film goes perfectly with where Sandler is in his own life now. He’s not the young frat boy fresh off of Saturday Night Live anymore. He’s aging and his comedy is doing the same. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing either.
The chemistry between the five guys definitely made this film what it was. Apart from James, the other guys are veterans of SNL and all have had a good amount of success themselves. Sandler, who co-wrote this film, is very loyal to the people he cares about and it’s never more evident than when you look at the casting of his films. Schneider and Steve Buscemi (Wiley) are two examples of people who can almost always expect to be seen somewhere in a Sandler film.
The female casting in this film was interesting. A comedienne, an independent film actress, a TV actress and an Oscar nominated actress. Each female lead brought something different to the film and to their respective roles. I think Rudolph was a great choice and Van Patten played her role perfectly. Bello wouldn’t have been the first person to cross my mind to play a role in this film, but it totally worked. Sadly, the only person I felt was out-of-place was Hayek Pinault. I just felt that the cast was on one level and she was playing somewhere outside of that, like she just couldn’t reach where the vibe of this film was at.
The setting for the film was beautiful and a huge part of the story. I actually loved that they shot so much at a water park. It gave a more family feel, but also allowed for some original comedic moments too. Dugan and Sandler are a winning combination and just know how to do funny. Granted, this was a more mature comedy, but that’s expected. They can’t make the college humored films forever, they have to evolve into something eventually and I think they succeeded with this film.