Greg: A quick story: A few years ago, my TV died. Since I’m not the kind of person who likes to interact with other people, we really needed to replace it. So I found an amazing deal on a TV that came with a PS3 and I got it and peace and happiness reigned forever throughout the land. I wanted desperately to see that sweet Blu-ray player in action, but then I opened up the PS3 and found that it came with a copy of “Grown Ups.”
That Blu-ray disc is still wrapped in plastic, untouched. I would not watch it because it was “Grown Ups.” And “Grown Ups 2” proved to me that I made the right decision.
Less than a minute into “Grown Ups 2,” the newest movie in what film historians will surely categorize as Adam Sandler’s “Ehn, why not?” period, the audience is treated to a CGI deer pissing in the face of Lenny Feder (Sandler). And while the hose-spray of urine only lasts a few seconds for the character, it is pretty much a non-stop gush of waste for the people watching the movie.
Brian: No, wait, remember, the deer peed on one of his kids a minute later. There was more pee. From the deer. DEER PEE OH MY GOD HAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAW
Greg: “Grown Ups 2” is bad. It is lazy. It contains little conflict, zero stakes, and “jokes” so lame they only got uproarious non-stop laughter from the people we saw it with. Holy hell, they never saw anything so funny. Christ.
Brian: HAWHAWHAWHAW THE DEER PEED
Greg: Ahem. The “plot.” It’s the last day of school in whatever the hell town this takes place in. Smileyburg, PA? And EVERYTHING is happening! The Feder family is dealing with a hormonal teen who wants a girlfriend, a middle child who wants to join the football team, and a daughter who needs her stuffed animal. Did she have another issue?
Brian: Why the fuck would I care? Whoever wrote the screenplay certainly didn’t.
Greg: Oh, and Roxanne Chase-Feder (Salma Hayek?!?) wants Lenny to consider having a fourth child, but he likes things the way they are now. Is this a thin plot for a half-hour sitcom? Yes. But let’s stretch it out over 90 minutes anyway.
Brian: It occurred to me that at some point after “Happy Gilmore” came out, and was funny, Adam Sandler’s production company (Happy Madison Productions, and if you ask me it’s incredibly cruel to remind your audience of the two good movies you made right before subjecting them to something very, very much the opposite) clearly hired a programmer to write a screenplay-writing algorithm that would simulate Sandler’s early successes. And they got this algorithm kind of working and then fired the programmer, and so it generates a screenplay about once every two years, at which point another movie is made. They don’t check the screenplay for quality because somebody got hurt doing that a few years ago and they’re up to 778 workdays without an accident and they are not going back down to zero.
Greg: All of Lenny’s friends are also having problems, kind of, but not really. Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) likes his mother and his wife (Maria Bello?!?) is mean to him, maybe? And their kids are either dumb or fashion-challenged. Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) remembered his anniversary and his wife didn’t. Also, he has a work appointment at some time that day.
Brian: Roger Ebert, a kind person who rediscovered his soul-deep love of film after his initial bouts with cancer, described the first “Grown Ups” as “pleasant, genial” and “good-hearted,” which I believe reflects that he chose not to spend his time savaging a film that wasn’t actively offensive. I guess you could say the same about the story — ONLY the story, mind you — of this second installment. Assuming you’re OK with women having three characteristics (nagging, oblivious, or willing to have sex) and with fat people being treated as funny because they’re both fat and on screen.
Greg: Probably the best of the stories, you know…the one that could be a movie, is that aging lothario Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is reunited with Braden (Alexander Ludwig, “The Hunger Games”), the son he didn’t know he had. The anger from Braden and the terror in Marcus were pretty well realized and made for some fairly funny moments. Everything else…uh…
Brian: I lost count, but either five or six times throughout “Grown Ups 2,” Kevin James’ character does a thing where he belches, sneezes, and farts, almost simultaneously. Every single time this happens — every single time — the film plays it like the comic equivalent of a fireworks finale on the fourth of July. I might actually refer to James’s doing this as the film’s emotional center.
Greg: There are some frat guys (including an uncredited and unbelievably bad Taylor Lautner) who chastise Sandler and crew. There’s former bully Stone Cold Steve Austin and his hot Russian ballerina girlfriend. Chris Rock’s daughter starts dating/is scared of singing in public.
Brian: It’s a shame Taylor Lautner isn’t credited because unfortunately, he gives a more convincing performance than I ever thought he was capable of.
And speaking of the cast, what the hell are Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph doing in this goddamn movie? All are leaps and bounds better than this. So too is”SNL” alum Cheri Oteri, who’s utterly wasted in her part except for when Taylor Lautner runs by her and it’s clear he’s only about two inches taller than her, and she’s barely 5’2”.
Greg: Jesus. Here’s the thing: There’s no plot. It’s a bunch of never-aired “Saturday Night Live” sketches with no real ending and not much of a beginning and hardly any middle. The bright spot is this week’s guest host, Shaquille O’Neal, as Officer Fluzoo. His performance is what tips everything over to the land of the surreal and thank god for him.
Brian: Shaq’s presence onscreen was like a cool breeze. Maybe it’s just because he plays a cop, and a huge black man in a cop uniform makes me think fondly of the inimitable Bubba Smith as Lt. Hightower in the “Police Academy” films. (Look, I spent a lot of “Grown Ups 2” trying desperately to think of something to make myself happy.)
Greg: As I told you afterward, Brian, I was sad because there were a few funny moments forever trapped in the amber of this awful movie. There was no potential here and yet there were a few real laughs. The problem is if you want to get to them you have to watch this train wreck.
Brian: I would go on at more length about how lazy and self-indulgent and baffling “Grown Ups 2” is, but I want my life back. Do not see “Grown Ups 2.” You probably weren’t going to anyway, so good, keep it that way. I say this because if you’re reading this, it means you can read and are almost certainly not the target audience of this film. (The audience at our promo screening was, as Greg said, laughing like loons the whole time; do with this information what you will.)
Greg: I give “Grown Ups 2” 1 and ½ jars of deer urine. And that’s basically only because they turned the cameras on and everybody seemed to know their lines.
Brian: I award “Grown Ups 2” no points, and may God have mercy on its soul.
“Grown Ups 2” is rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, language, and some male rear nudity.