Grown Ups 2

STARRING: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Nick Swardson, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Taylor Lautner, Alexander Ludwig, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Shaquille O’Neal, Oliver Hudson, Peter Dante, Milo Ventmiglia, Cheri Oteri
WRITTEN BY: Fred Wolf, Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy
DIRECTED BY: Dennis Dugan

I could have kept going in the “Starring” part, but considering Andy Samberg’s cameo is non-speaking (as are the rest of the Lonely Island and some random SNL alumni), I left them off. Sandler was offered Grown Ups 2, turned to his friends, and asked how many of them wanted paychecks. And for some reason, Rob Schneider isn’t in this film. Schneider claims he was busy shooting his failed CBS sitcom Rob, but there’s a rumor that he wanted more money. Rob sure does know how to bite the hand that feeds.

Sandler decided instead to replace Rob with a “brother” played by Nick Swardson, in probably his dumbest role to date. You would think Swardson would get tired of playing mildly retarded characters, but he seems to be at home being functionally one of the worst characters written onto screen in 2013. Aside from a running gag with an inflatable raft, his character never made me laugh. The plot of the second film revolves around the other four families from the original, and now Sandler lives back in his hometown with everyone else. He’s decided to stop being rich and famous, for reasons that aren’t really explained. His wife (Hayek) wants to have another baby, and his kids seem to be more featured than in the first film. They all have their side stories. The oldest one is best friends with Chris Rock’s kid, and they go to a frat party. The middle one is being bullied at school. The little daughter is a ballerina with a hot teacher.

Kevin James’s big character arc with his wife (Maria Bello) is that he spends a lot of time at his mothers place. His kids are stupid, and he seems to have gained a substantial amount of weight since the last film. He can also do this thing, which is never funny (even though they do it 800 times in the film), where he farts/sneezes/burps at the same time. Chris Rock’s character and his wife (Maya Rudolph) weren’t really given much of an arc. The daughter might be dating a Steve Urkel knock-off, and the littlest one spends the whole movie biting and pooping. David Spade’s single, but he’s also in love with a female bodybuilder, and his teenage son he didn’t know he had (Alexander Ludwig) is dropped off at his doorstep looking like he came from juvie.

Shaq plays a cop, and it’s a much better acting job than Kazzam, so that’s something. Oliver Hudson is probably the most likeable character, as a fitness instructor. He’s got more charisma than the entire male cast combined. Colin Quinn pops up as an old friend of Sandler’s, who he left behind, and resents him for it. Cheri Oteri is Sandler’s 6th grade girlfriend who just won’t let it go. Steve Buscemi is her weird husband who teaches drivers ed and wants to be Flava Flav. And Taylor Lautner’s impressive supporting role consists of him basically showing that he can fight like a ninja, if he needs to. Milo Ventmiglia is wasted as his “bro”. Apparently, Milo can’t backflip or roundhouse like Lautner can.

I want to fail this movie, because it is terrible. I can’t, because occasionally the jokes made me laugh. But the really awkward part is, when there’s a “joke”, and you’re sitting in an audience full of people, and no one laughs. The whole opening sequence with the moose, and lots of urination, kept my audience silent. Other times, I didn’t laugh, but others did. Fart jokes will get kids 99% of the time. But this movie relies a lot on the fact that you’re probably stupid enough to have bought a ticket to Grown Ups 2 in the first place, so it shoots for the lowest-common-denominator.

This is actually worse than both That’s My Boy and Jack and Jill. Both of those films actually had more of a story than this sequel. There isn’t a plot here, there’s just four friends goofing off. Still, sadly, it is better than Little Nicky.

FINAL GRADE: D+

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