Movie Review: Grown Ups (2010)

As with other Adam Sandler starrers, the 2010 released Grown Ups too excels in that special brand of American humor.  Sandler and his co-stars, including Kevin James, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Chris Rock were first part of a successful basketball team in school.  The ocassion of the funeral of their coach brings them together after many years and the old friends decide to stay in a cottage to reminisce their old days.  With each of the five having moved into different careers and all being married now, they exchange moments of nostalgia as well as regrets about the decisions they have taken in their lives.  As the narrative moves further, some of them start showing their unique quirks and idiosyncracies that had stayed with them since school days.  Indeed some of the apparently juvenile behavior of their school days seemed to have not left them completely as they had integrated into their adult personalities.  It is for this reason that the movie title Grown Ups is an ironic labelling of the theme.

One would expect many funny situations and responses when adults behave like juveniles.  But making such as theme cover the entire length of the film is an arduous undertaking on part of the director and script writers.  The low-brow and at times slapstick variety of humor might appeal to a certain audience, but is not sufficient to sustain a film throughout.  For example, the scene where the five friends play ‘Arrow Roulette’, where an arrow is fired into the air and the last to run away is declared the winner.  There is a certain comic feel to see middle-aged participants in a children’s game.  But after a while such comedy loses its novelty and effect.

When the children and spouses of the five friends also get involved in the plot, it sets up awkward, unexpected and suspicious situations, all of which add to the comic effect of the movie.  The sexual innuendoes, drunken behavior, barbeques and games all set up interesting situations in which the characters play out their quirky personalities to full effect.  Herein lies the drawback of the film as well, for the quirky, adolescent behavior of the five friends can at times appear to be too artificial and conjured up to be appreciated.  Believed to have been inspired by the classic comedy flick The Big Chill, one can see that Grown Ups does not match up to the quality of the former.

As far as the weakness of the movie goes, the script writing team of Fred Wolf and Adam Sandler have wasted much of the potential offered by the plot.  The previous major buddy-comedy film The Hangover is a classic case in point, where the full potential of the plot was realized on screen.  But die-hard fans of Adam Sandler, who have acquired a taste for his unique brand of situational humor would also like this movie.  Having a star-cast has helped the overall quality of the film.  At places where the script fails, it is the acting talent and experience of the actors that pull the narrative through.  The presence of Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph along with Madison Riley and Jamie Chung certainly brings glitz and glamor on screen.  The background score by Rupert Gregson-Williams is relatively low-key as would be expected of films in the genre.

In sum, Grown Ups is a typical Adam Sandler movie with many hilarious comic situations.  It is also a well-packaged movie with a proven star cast and enough glamor quotient to make it a perfect weekend watch.  Indeed, it is worth a watch at least once.