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Grown Ups 2


Critics' Reviews

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Rotten Tomatoes
‘Grown Ups 2’: Who’s laughing?
Kate Erbland, Special to MSN Movies

At some point within the last four years, Adam Sandler made the choice to abandon making any kind of career move that would cause the funny man to expand his range while also shrinking his wallet. After all, Sandler tried it  with surprising, nuanced and often wonderful work in dramatic fare like "Punch-Drunk Love," "Spanglish," and "Funny People"  before downshifting into uninspired and classless comedies like "That's My Boy" and "Jack and Jill." Sandler made his choice  to make films with his friends that don't require too much time or attention or care or consideration that also make buckets of money  and his audience has been paying for it ever since.

"Grown Ups 2," the first (and presumably not the last) sequel to 2010's "Grown Ups" (which made a staggering $271 million at the box office), reunites Sandler with most of the original crew, including stars Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph and director Dennis Dugan for another round of watching a bunch of famous, funny friends use a big budget movie as an excuse to hang out with each other and amuse no one but themselves. Even the very large, very poorly-CGIed deer that urinates in Sandler's face within the film's first two minutes looks bored (and, yes, you read that correctly).

In the intervening years since the action of the first film, Sandler's big shot Hollywood agent Lenny Feder has moved his family back to his small hometown to focus on spending quality time together, but while the rest of the Feders appear to have seamlessly adjusted to their new lives, Lenny has regressed into unemployment and messing about with his equally directionless friends. If "Grown Ups 2" depicts a typical day for the dudes, that day includes not working, hanging out in K-Mart, driving a school bus because the bus driver is too drugged up to do so, ogling women, lying to their wives, injuring their children, getting into physical altercations with frat boys and randomly arranging an '80s-themed party (at the very least, said party gave the film's costume and music departments something to do other than feel sad they were working on a "Grown Ups" film).

The central, simple gag of the "Grown Ups" franchise is that it centers on adult men who act like children, but whereas the first "Grown Ups" at least bothered to place the guys in a vacation-ish setting, the regular weekday setting of "Grown Ups 2" makes their exploits seem strangely sad and unabashedly immature. As thin as that gag is (especially when it comes to making it work in what appears to be a bid for turning the two films into some kind of moneymaking franchise for all parties involved), it's even worse when paired up with the shockingly lazy screenplay from Sandler, Fred Wolf and Tim Herlihy. Even "Grown Ups" had something that resembled a plot, but "Grown Ups 2" meanders along without shape or form, seemingly stumbling across conflicts at random, before discarding and forgetting them, until it's necessary to bring them back so that something (anything!) can actually happen within the film.

Sandler and his friends obviously have a great time making films together, but their amusement fails to translate as entertainment for anyone else stuck watching their good times roll. Instead of bothering to make a coherent comedy, Sandler and company have slapped together a series of sketchy (and frequently flat-out gross) skits masquerading as a complete movie, ensuring that the only laughter it will prompt will be from its own stars as they merrily walk to the nearest bank.

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Kate Erbland is a contributing writer for MSN Movies, a critic for Boxoffice magazine and an associate editor for Film School Rejects. She has been writing about movies since 2008, but has been thinking about movies for far longer. She lives in New York City.
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