I’m “biast” (con): hate Sandler, hated Grown Ups
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Make no mistake: This is not a movie. Grown Ups was a movie — a vile, reprehensible movie, but it was at least manufactured around a narrative and characters and themes. This is nothing but Adam Sandler hanging out with his pals — Kevin James (The Dilemma, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Chris Rock (Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, 2 Days in New York), and David Spade (Jack and Jill); apparently Rob Schneider felt this was beneath him (and it is, even him) — and engaging in a self-congratulatory circle jerk about how awesome they are and how perfect life is for them.
There is nothing like a plot: instead there is shit like an extended yet aborted (ie: sans punchlines) standup routine set in a big-box chain store that will go nameless here… though its brand is prominent throughout, and appears to have been chosen as a setting in order to reassure Sandler’s fans that even though he lives — here and probably in real life, too — in a structure that is more likely to be mistaken for a fancy country hotel than a single-family home, he is just like you, dude! (Sandler [That’s My Boy, Jack and Jill] can’t stop laughing at himself the whole running time. I wonder if he’s thinking about the poor schmucks in the audience who will never taste wealth and comfort like he has known.) There are pseudo-narrative structures that might be presumed to be, were this an actual movie, setups for punchlines, as when Sandler takes over driving the schoolbus in the morning of the day on which this exercise in masturbation takes place. But, again, the punchlines never come. It’s all just Sandler riffing — in crude, cruel, bullying ways — about all the many things that somehow threaten to make his life less than perfect… like how the James “character” visits his mother regularly. This apparently impinges on all that is otherwise right with the world.
What passes for punchlines are moments like the one in which Sandler high-fives the postman, an act of manly approval and felicitation for Sandler’s sexy-lingerie-owning wife (Salma Hayek: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, Puss in Boots). In such a “context,” there is no such thing as storytelling incompetence, as such would appear when Sandler moans and complains about having to go to his daughter’s ballet recital, only later to be part of the dude crowd happily oogling the “hot” teacher whom all the dads seems to have known would be bending over onstage, innocently displaying her breasts or her rear for their benefit. In an actual movie, Sandler would have pretended to be excited for his daughter, placated Hayek’s spousal nagging about the event, and then been caught out later by his “crazy” wife when he was just being an ordinary normal hotblooded dude, ferchristsake. But the agenda here is different: Sandler gets to have his moaning about being forced to take an interest in his own children (as is only right and decent), a metaphoric high-five for his “hot” wife who tolerates this, and another metaphoric high-five for his “hot” wife who doesn’t even notice his oogling of the teacher.
If this trajectory continues — and we can be assured that it will — Grown Ups 3 will be nothing more than Sandler jerking off and giggling in front of a camera while Salma Hayek feeds him a sandwich off her cleavage.