Directed by: Dennis Dugan (Jack and Jill)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek
I think we can all agree that Adam Sandler has spent a career making the worst kind of puerile, juvenile comedies. So when I say, without an ounce of hyperbole, that Grown Ups 2 is by far the worst Adam Sandler movie I’ve ever watched, I want you to understand the gravity of that statement. The film opens with Sandler — reprising his role as idiotically rich family man Lenny Feder — being awakened by a golden shower from a CGI deer that’s in his house for no other reason than to pee on Sandler. (Perhaps the deer saw Jack and Jill and has been biding his time.) And it just goes downhill from there.
The film takes place within the confines of a single day (a friend, who was horrifically bored enough to come watch this thing with me, called it Adam Sandler’s Ulysses), and that’s as close as we get to a plot. The movie meanders rudderlessly from one comedic set piece to the next, as buddies Lenny, Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Marcus (David Spade) loiter around town. It’s so aimless that if I didn’t know any better, I might think the movie is some sort of Dadaist manifesto. Lenny, who seems to have no job, mostly wanders around hurling insults at various townspeople, while the rest of the cast is subjected to explosions of various bodily functions and grievous injuries. Sometimes, these guys see a woman’s cleavage and get all frothed up because this is apparently something novel for them. In another scene, they get all grossed out and panicky when a gaggle of effeminate-male cheerleaders get soapy and wash Kevin James’ car — because such is life in small-town America.
Indeed, it feels like the film’s sole purpose is for Sandler to hang around with and employ all the vaguely famous people he knows. Anything to keep Tim Meadows off the street, I say, but there’s so many washed-up mid-’90s SNL alumni here, your ticket should come with a Bingo card filled with their faces (Ellen Cleghorne is the free space). I was half-expecting the late Chris Farley to make a cameo. But what’s really depressing is that all these people get genuinely out-acted by the likes of Taylor Lautner and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
All of this is accomplished with as little effort as possible. Director and longtime Sandler co-conspirator Dennis Dugan just sort of points his camera at people, and if they’re in the frame, so be it. Sandler himself is so worn out, he can’t be bothered to wear anything besides basketball shorts for the entire movie. It’s all incredibly cynical and insulting, since everyone involved understands they can make whatever they want and still fill up the Brink’s truck. And in a way, it’s almost admirable that Sandler’s gotten to the point in his career where he can literally make whatever film he wants with zero consequence — that is, if you can put how jaw-droppingly awful Grown Ups 2 is out of your mind. Rated PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher