Blu-Ray Review: Grown Ups 2
Grown Ups was the worst movie of 2010. I’m an Adam Sandler fan, but I prefer when he creates ridiculous characters like Billy Madison or The Zohan, or at least does the heartwarming comedy of The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates or Click. Grown Ups was just not funny, and on top of that it was mean. So I was happy to get out of seeing Grown Ups 2 at press screenings, but I’m still Franchise Fred. The fact that it is a sequel automatically makes Grown Ups 2 more interesting to me than Grown Ups 1, so in the comfort of my own home I had to investigate what Sandler got up to this time.
Lenny Fader (Sandler) has moved his family back home to his small town, where his three childhood buddies still live. Everyone gets a new subplot: Lenny is dodging his wife (Salma Hayek)’s conversation about having another baby. Eric (Kevin James) has to face the fear he never faced in high school. Kurt (Chris Rock)’s daughter is starting to date. Marcus (David Spade) has a teenage son he finds out about. The old guys run afoul of the local D-bag fraternity and decide to throw a party to celebrate the end of the school year. It’s not much of a plot, but at least it’s more than “four comedians go on vacation and make fun of each other.”
It’s still the same old shit. Everyone gets a turn ripping on someone. First Sandler goes, then James, then Rock, then Spade, unless Spade is the butt of the joke himself. It’s the laziest kind of insult comedy. At least pratfalls require some sort of physical exertion, and the physical comedy sequences are rather elaborate. Don’t give the film too much credit for staging big set pieces though, because Eric’s greatest triumph in the film is flatulence.
The lowest common denominator may find this humor amusing, but be aware that it’s appealing to your worst nature. Grown Ups 2 presents you a ridiculous character, then validates you by making fun of that character. I felt worse for the fat bully than I did for his target because of the of the mean Adam Sandler comebacks he suffered. And why not name that bully O’Doyle for continuity with other Sandler films? That would at least make it a little clever. They humiliate Nick Swardson (who seems game to prostitute himself for this), a teacher protruding out of his clothes, and a muscle woman at yoga class. Maya Rudolph flat out laughs in her face. I just find that unpleasant.
It’s also the same old celebration of the party boy mentality. How awful it must be to have a family so you can’t party anymore, because there is no other pleasure in life than being able to party. See also 21 and Over and That’s My Boy. They also reinforce that doing irresponsibly dangerous stunts is the most entertaining thing, because everyone cheers. That’s great. Keep performing for drunk spectators. Then when you Sea Inside yourself, don’t come crying to me. At least you’ll get to play murderball.
Now, I personally want a family, so I’m jealous of Lenny getting to leave the party to read his daughter a bedtime story. I’ve outgrown that schtick and I’m younger than Sandler. There is some validity to family frustration. If kids interrupt an adult couples’ intimate moments, that’s at least a reasonable need the adults are trying to balance with their family’s needs. That never comes up in Grown Ups 2. I’m just throwing it out there as a counterexample to the “my kid made me miss J. Geils Band” joke.
Do married fathers really get so horny they all collectively ogle the hot ballet teacher? Maybe I’m naive but if I had a wife and kid, I’d at least have the discipline to not ogle, let alone to figure that I’d have no interest because I’m so fulfilled by my family that I no longer value the cheap thrills of T&A. I can feel the peer pressure already. Why are you so fulfilled by your family, Fred? Why can’t you peak at the cleavage with us, Fred?
In this world, coercion of women is okay as long as the voyeur rapist (Jon Lovitz) gets payback by getting bit by a baby. I could say the women should have known it was pretty obvious Lovitz was not a yoga instructor and was asking them to make sexual poses, but then I’d be victim-blaming. I’m not sure if it’s worse that Grown Ups 2 made me a victim-blamer or that the women then prove to be as demeaning of the actual yoga instructor, a hot gay man (Oliver Hudson).
The film makes fun of schlubby guys having hot wives, but it really seems to be glorifying the power of the neg. Lenny keeps ripping his wife for her accent, her cooking, etc. and she keeps trying to win his approval. As dense as Lenny is to not get her clues about wanting another baby, she certainly picked the most manipulative way possible to tell him. Kids are property too. Any kid with special needs is a humiliation to the father, but if you discover one of your children is supremely talented, then you win.
The only problem with all of these issues is that Grown Ups 2 doesn’t know that they’re wrong. Any of the above could be issues for the characters to overcome in their process of maturing, let alone basic character development. That’s not what they’re here for though. Grown Ups 2 celebrates objectifying, irresponsibility, bullying and neglect.
This is all bad, but it’s mildly more watchable than Grown Ups 1. The physical comedy is at least impressive if not funny (the tire sequence in particular), and there are a few jokes that actually pay off. A Smurf costume actually makes an empowered lemonade after the humiliating lemons that a supporting character suffered earlier. The callback to the blue pool water gag is good for franchise trademarks. The kids pretending to be drunk to hang with drunk college girls is cute. I actually used to do that in college because I wasn’t much of a drinker (back then; now I have my own grown up problems that can only be cured with scotch). I suppose if you were a fan of the pure nasty four-way riffing of Grown Ups 1, this makes Grown Ups 2 a lesser, watered down sequel.
The Blu-ray looks great. It’s a Sony Pictures Blu-ray and they do great Blu-rays since the format is their baby so they’re going to show it off. The world of Grown Ups 2 is bright and colorful, very glossy in its depiction of small town suburbia. Deleted scenes include more unfunny schtick with Kevin James and some more awful ridiculing of characters deemed “less than.” Some bonus features actually show off the hard work and craftsmanship it took to construct the comedy stunts. Others just celebrate all the cameos in puff pieces designed to show what great friends everybody really is.
So Grown Ups 2 was what I expected but it won’t make my worst of 2013 list. Not even because I knew what to expect so it’s fair game, but I guess I’m on to bigger demons. I mean, there’s another three-hour Hobbit movie coming out, and there are other films with even more reprehensible messages if you can believe that. 21 and Over and The Internship are far worse as comedies go, so the minor improvements of a bare bones plot and some admirable set piece construction gives Grown Ups 2 a pass this year.