Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ah, Adam Sandler. You have amused me for years with your comedy albums and films. You’ve even amazed me with some strong dramatic work (though, to be honest, when you’re working for Paul Thomas Anderson you’re pretty much working for the best). I’ve defended you over the years because, like your audience, I’m a 13 year old boy in an old man’s body. That being said, “Grown Ups 2” is one of your better films in recent years.
When we first met the cast they were assembling to attend the funeral of their childhood basketball coach. Lenny (Sandler) was a successful Hollywood player. Lamansoff (James) and Kurt (Rock) were family men and Marcus (David Spade) was a man-child who would sleep with anything. Some things never change. “Grown Ups 2” finds all four men now living back in their old home town. Where they had to experience the ups and downs of growing up now that rite of childhood goes to their children. Lenny’s kids get teased because of their past life in Hollywood but everyone, as is the fate of teenagers, have their own problems to endure. Those problems, and the lessons learned, form the basis for the majority of the film. A subplot, with an unruly group of college kids, led by a hilarious Taylor Lautner, forces the adults to deal with similar problems as they too are bullied away from their favorite swimming hole. Not a hard plot to deal with, to be sure, but it’s enough to keep the film moving.
Acting wise, the four returning stars (no Rob Schneider to occasionally yell “You can do it!” this time) have a great chemistry, no doubt built on by their personal friendships. Their wives (Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph) have learned to accept their mentally under-developed men because, when it comes down to it, they’re excellent fathers. Or at least try to be. As in most Sandler films, the cast is loaded with “regulars:” pals Nick Swardson, Peter Dante, Allen Covert; “Saturday Night Live” vets like Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz and Colin Quinn. Even some of his sport buddies, including Dan Patrick, Chris Berman and Shaquille O’Neal make an appearance. Enough famous faces to keep the audience buzzing each time a new one popped up. Some of the gags are childish but really, isn’t that why you go to a movie like this in the first place? I know that’s why I do.