A film review by Craig J. Koban November 15, 2013 

GROWN UPS 2 zero stars 

2013, PG-13, 100 mins.


Adam Sandler as Lenny Feder  /  Salma Hayek as Roxanne Chase-Feder  /  Chris Rock as Kurt McKenzie  /  Rob Schneider as Rob Hilliard  /  Kevin James as Eric Lamonsoff  /  Maya Rudolph as Deanne McKenzie  /  David Spade as Marcus Higgins  /  Alexys Nycole Sanchez as Becky Feder

Directed by Dennis Dugan  /  Written by Fred Wolf

I’ve had root canals that were more pleasurable and tolerable to sit through than GROWN UPS 2, a bewilderingly unfunny sequel to the already bewilderingly unfunny original.  The opening five minutes were enough to make me want to leave the screening, rush home, roll myself into a ball, and cry like toddler.  During it, a deer – all rendered in what’s clearly computer generated graphics – walks into the family home of Larry Fender (Adam Sandler) and proceeds to urinate all over his face.  It’s not done there.  The crazed animal then goes to various other rooms and methodically sprays itself all over the house and ON Lenny’s children.   

I read that GROWN UPS 2 cost an unfathomable $80 million to produce.  Dear Lord.  Some of it must have – I’m guessing – gone to create that elaborate deer visual effect…but to what ultimate end?  What’s inherently funny about a wild animal standing on its hind legs, genitalia exposed, peeing on frightened adults and their children?  Moreover, how utterly embarrassed were the visual effects artisans in working on and completing this portion of the film?  What was the pitch to the studio like?  Did it begin with (Sandler and company): “Okay, the opening scene is gonna have a deer projectile piss in my mouth while I’m in bed”?  How could any sensible minded studio front nearly a hundred million dollars to such a wasteful pursuit when so many other struggling and creative filmmaking minds are so desperate to make a name for themselves? 

I hated the first GROWN UPS from 2010…and I really, really, really hated GROWN UPS 2, which not only manages to be yet another reliably dreadful comedy (ha!) on Adam Sandler’s already embarrassing resume of stinkers, but it perhaps represents a new low for the overall creative process of actually making movies and telling a tangible story.  This just might be the laziest scripted film that I’ve ever seen: GROWN UPS 2 does not so much contain an actual plot as it does have just a series of very loosely tied together vignettes that traverse from one soul-crushingly awful and unfunny gag and pratfall to the next.  Offensively, the film tries, as it may, to contain messages about the importance of family values and the spirit of community…but it sheepishly does so at the expense of a lot of jokes involving pooping, farting, vomiting, stained underwear, homophobia, and, yes, deer urination.  Some films scrape the barrel…this one scrapes it, puts a hole in the bottom, and then still continues southward into the soil. 



What plot that we do have occurs three years after the events of the first film, during which time Lenny has taken his family back to his Connecticut hometown where he and his BFFs grew up, comprised of Kurt (Chris Rock), Eric (Kevin James) and Marcus (David Spade).  The old boys wish to kick off the summer with a 1980’s themed party to end all 1980’s themed summer parties, but, yes, a series of roadblocks get in their path.  For starters, Lenny’s wife wants to have another baby, which leaves Lenny feeling more than a bit reluctant.  Kurt is having issues with his wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph) forgetting important things…like their wedding anniversary.  Eric seems to take more solace in spending time with his elderly mother than with his own wife Sally (Mario Bello).  Marcus acquaints himself with a son that he never apparently knew he had.  Worse yet, a brat pack of rowdy frat boys – led by, of course, Taylor Launtner – have decided to make the men’s lives a living hell leading up to their party.   

Any comedy is in deep, deep trouble when it has to rely on “comic relief” from performers like Taylor Launtner, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Shaquille O’Neal to provide…laughs.  Of course, the Sandlerian brand of comedy usually entails a cornucopia of celeb cameos (remember the likes of Al Pacino and Nicole Kidman in some of his previous films?), but they are more or less here for what must have been a fine payday (remember, this film’s budget was $80 million).  When GROWN UPS 2 isn’t making you laugh it’s most likely either boring you into watch checking frustration or shocking you into apathetic submission.  Some scenes seem to take forever to actually build to a would-be funny payoff that never occurs, whereas others contain nauseatingly  immature sight gags that would have been tossed away on the cutting room floor of just about any other comedy.  This film’s idea of heartily hysterical moments involve, for instance, chocolate soft serve ice cream that’s made to look like excrement coming out of the serviceman’s rear end.  Wow.  Just…wow.  Even an automated laugh track would not laugh at this film. 

You know who I feel truly bad for here?  Stars Maya Rudolph, Salma Hayek, and Mario Bello, all of whom are lovely and talented actresses that have appeared in films far better than this puerile and dislikeable drivel.  Rudolph herself is a fine on-screen comedian when given the opportunity, whereas Bello and Hayek are accomplished actresses whose talents are limitlessly above the material in this film.  Part of the confounding aspect of sitting through – make that enduring - this film is mentally tabulating the manner with which these ladies (a) agreed to be in the first film and (b) agreed to yet again appear in the sequel.  I can understand Sandler’s participation, or even James’ and Spade’s (they have all worked together in films in the past), but what of Chris Rock?  He’s arguably one of the best and most respected stand-up comedians of his generation…was there ever a fleeting moment when he thought that the material in GROWN UPS 1 or 2 was worthy of his inclusion and participation? 

The whole film culminates at the 80’s themed party, and it is indeed kind of fun to see so many inspired costumes referencing iconic people/characters from the decade, but it then devolves into a massive fight between the adults and that pesky, Taylor Lautner-led frat boy legion.  Even the young kids get involved in the violent fisticuffs.  How funny.  How very, very funny.  I've reached a point where I just don't really want to write about this film anymore, so I will close with this: GROWN UPS 2 made me sad, but perhaps it’s of no real surprise (it marks the eighth teaming of Sandler and director Dennis Dugan, and each new effort seems worse than the one that preceded it).  It’s almost unfathomable to think of another film effort that’s as wasteful as pointless as this film.  And remember…I’ve seen MOVIE 43.  Even that film had the decency to not include a scene with frazzled deer suffering from bladder control issues.   

  H O M E