Saturday, 29 January 2011

Even Bigger Daddies

12 – 98mins – 2010
Written by: Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Joyce Van Patten, Ebony Jo-Ann, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Blake Clarke


[SPOILERS] Five childhood friends, who claimed an unprecedented victory for their high school basketball team some 30 years ago, are reunited in the present day to attend the funeral and spread the ashes of their former coach, Bobby “Buzzer” Ferdinando (Blake Clarke). Because of course the man’s family would be more than happy to have nothing to do with his send-off…

Staying for the weekend in the wooden cabin where they used to party, the five separated buddies – accompanied by their wives, girlfriends and offspring – reconnect like in the good old days and come to realise that, despite moving on in vastly disparate directions, getting high powered jobs, falling in love and starting families (some more successfully than others), that their childhood bond is still strong. “Boys will be boys”, as the clichéd tagline cries, no matter how old they are.

It sounds like a pleasant enough central theme, but this Happy Madison production is far too generic to leave an impression. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider play predictable extensions of themselves, while the laughs feel neutered and less cutting than in previous outings, despite a barrage of laddish pun-derived banter (mainly aimed at Schneider’s eco-healing granny-lover).

Sure, as the weekend progresses lessons are learnt – snobbish children learn to love nature as much as their PlayStations, fashionista wives (Salma Hayek) tame their inflated egos and grudge-holding rivals (Colin Quinn) get a long overdue rematch – it’s just a pity that writers Sandler and Fred SNL Wolf didn’t learn restraint in driving home their funniest gags, with a breast-feeding joke in particular being suckled completely dry.

In a CR@B Shell: Chaotic and shallow, Grown Ups delivers exactly the kind of repetitive, immature hi-jinx you’d expect from an Adam Sandler film running in neutral. Just when will this big daddy start acting his age?

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