Dignity is not a priority in Grown Ups. A reunion comedy in both concept (school buddies come together 30 years later) and cast (Saturday Night Live confreres Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade), the film drifts along on a stream of humiliation jokes - physical, emotional, sexual, hairpiece-ial.
This should come as no surprise given the involvement of the SNL alums - joined, as the fifth of the friends, by The King of Queens’ Kevin James. When the now-middle-age guys hear that their beloved
junior high school basketball coach, who inspired them to victory and “to play life like you played that game, " has passed on, Lenny (Sandler), Eric (James), Kirk (Rock), Marcus (Spade), and Rob (Schneider) convene by an idyllic lake to spread the coach's ashes and share the memories of their storied youth.
Regret and raunchiness, nostalgia and naughtiness ensue.
Even Maria Bello and Salma Hayek, playing, respectively, spouses to Eric and to Lenny, willingly submit to the buffoonery: Bello with a breast pump and a running gag about nursing her 4-year-old, and Hayek with a shot of her exiting a bathroom, several sheets of toilet paper affixed to her rear.
Directed by Dennis Dugan (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry), with a script credited to Sandler and longtime SNL head writer Fred Wolf, Grown Ups lazily makes its way from Point A to Point B, establishing the individual characters on their home turf, then amassing them for a memorial service and the weekend wake in an inspirational rustic setting. Point C is reserved for reflection, reconciliation, and rear-end ogling. (The guys kick back in Adirondack chairs, eyeing the improbable and leggy offspring of the schlubby, toupe-topped Rob. )
Lenny is now an A-list Hollywood agent, his wife is a fashion designer with a show in Milan, and their kids are spoiled brats (they upbraid the nanny for serving subpar hot chocolate). Kirk is a culinary-challenged stay-at-home dad with a high-powered businesswoman wife (Maya Rudolph) and a carping mother-in-law (Ebony Jo-Ann). Eric is hardly as successful as he lets on, and Rob is married to an oldster (Joyce Van Patten) - the butt of geriatric and New Age jokes. Spade's Marcus is just a creep.
Grown Ups gets laughs (or tries to) from urination and flatulence, from butts and bunions, and gets mushy and meaningful as it examines the hard slogs of marriage and parenting. There's a lot of comic riffery going on, and the easy camaraderie among Sandler, Rock et. al. goes a long way toward concealing the flimsiness and familiarity of the material. Of course, there's a hearty round of hugs and high-fives at the end, as everybody realizes that having good friends and family means a whole lot more than just having stuff.