July 12, 2013



GROWN UPS 2:  Not Even With A Gun To Your Head – Is It Time For the Razzies Yet?

One can’t lightly dismiss Adam Sandler.  After the first Grown Ups, it seemed implausible that he could make a movie even worse, but in quick succession he churned out the truly unspeakable Jack & Jill and That’s My Dad.  The new GROWN UPS 2 may not be quite as poisonous as that pair, but it’s plenty atrocious enough.

About 3 years have passed since the events of the first movie (that doesn’t count the 101-minute running time, which feels like a year in itself), and Hollywood guy Lenny Feder (Sandler) has now moved with wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek) and their three children to the town where he grew up with his moronic friends Eric (Kevin James), Marcus (David Spade) and Kurt (Chris Rock).  The movie takes place on the last day of school for the year, which the guys have all taken off from their various jobs so as to hang out some more.  Each man is given a token plotline:  Lenny worries that Roxanne wants to have a fourth child; Eric is bossed around by wife Sally (Maria Bello), who permits their children to be aggressively stupid rather than ruin their confidence by ever telling them they’re wrong, and spends secret time with his mommy (Georgia Engel); Kurt’s wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph) forgot that it’s their 20th anniversary, and his daughter has been asked on her first date; and Marcus has just learned that he has a teen son, Braden (Alexander Ludwig), who’s come to spend the day with him.  All the people who always turn up in Adam Sandler movies show up:  Nick Swardson, Tim Meadows, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Jon Lovitz and relative newcomer Andy Samberg, proving once again that Sandler is a loyal friend.  (Was Rob Schneider ill?)  Plus the guys manage to piss off a group of obnoxious frat boys led by Taylor Lautner.  Oh, and Shaquille O’Neal is the local cop (there’s a free-throw joke).  It all ends up at a 1980s themed party thrown by Sandler, which unaccountably features enough extras for a political rally.

None of this, though, is what Grown Ups 2 is really about.  It’s about men in their 40s who act like 11-year olds, despite having wives, children and life experience.  Mostly they express this with virtually non-stop bodily function humor.  Every single one of those functions is represented here (the one that would normally earn an R rating is simulated with chocolate ice cream), and there’s an entire running gag about the ability to combine a belch, a sneeze and a fart.  The phrase “ad nauseum” has rarely been more appropriate.  When they’re not rejoicing in bathroom humor, the guys display similarly giggly attitudes to any suggestion of sex.  It’s easy enough to shake one’s head over this, but sitting in an audience that thinks it’s hilarious to watch a deer urinate all over Lenny and then his son, you realize that it sells tickets.

You can’t say that Adam Sandler has no taste or talent, because when he chooses to step out of his comfort zone, he works (without success at the box office, unfortunately) with people like Paul Thomas Anderson, James L. Brooks and Judd Apatow, and his own performances in their films have been quite good.  When he’s wearing his Happy Madison production company hat, though, the results are horrendous, and clearly as the producer he has no interest in making those movies any better, working over and over with the same team of co-writers like Tim Herlihy and Fred Wolf (Herlihy alone has written 9 Sandler pictures) and directors like Dennis Dugan (his 8th for Sandler).  These movies have made Sandler a multimillionaire–although the last two flopped, and for no good reason Grown Ups 2 cost $80M to produce, so the clock may be ticking on his particular brand of comedy enema.

Many people enjoy Adam Sandler comedies, and there’s no reason someone who laughed at Grown Ups won’t do the same at the sequel.  For the rest of us, though, that bad smell isn’t just coming from the characters.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."