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Article by Teddy Durgin

"Grown Ups 2?" More Like Thrown Ups 2!

Every once in a while, some Hollywood friends come together, work on a script, take pay cuts and turn out a truly memorable and entertaining motion picture. That film was "This Is the End." "Grown Ups 2," on the other hand, is Hollywood cronyism and nepotism at its most obvious. Adam Sandler once again assembles his buddies Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade for another crass, crude, generally plotless pseudo comedy. Sandler is like the Jewish Tyler Perry at this point. He is able to get even the most inane script green-lit in Hollywood; he populates each film with friends, family and hangers-on who swear Zod-like allegiance to him; he and his crew generally make the movie for cheap; and they have a target demographic that they not only hit, they beat mercilessly like a jockey rod-whipping his steed across the finish line to unholy riches. All I can say is... I wish I was THAT guy's friend! That is one hip pocket I wouldn't mind being in. I'm panning this flick. But I'm not begrudging anyone involved or their money here. And I'm not going to be all high and mighty and chastise anyone who appears in this flick for not challenging themselves as actors and artists either. The challenge, I'm sure, is when Sandler comes to their door and presents them with all of the gross stuff he wants them to do. I don't know about you, but... I want THAT challenge! What would I do to get a Hollywood paycheck?! Jeez, you should see some of the things I have to do for the paychecks that I do get! I'm sure I would have to answer for it at my final judgment, but Sandler money would have my daughter in private school and my wife and I eating filet mignon for dinner. I now think Sandler doesn't get enough credit for his ability to bring together an enormous amount of truly talented people and get them to do whatever he wants. I imagine there is a genuine sense of play on each of his sets. So, why not be at the service of genuinely good screenplays? The on-screen talent roster for "Grown Ups 2" is indeed HUGE. Two-thirds of the cast from "Saturday Night Live" circa 1990 are in this thing, including Sandler, Rock, Spade, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Colin Quinn and more. There are cameos from a few, more recent "SNL"-ers like Andy Samberg and Taram Killam. How Rob Schneider missed this payday will probably go down as one of the great mysteries of time and the cosmos. For the diehard fans of Sandler and his crew, I will say this is an improvement on the first "Grown Ups" movie. This one has some big and small laughs, and there is a climactic battle between Sandler and all of his thirty- and forty-something co-stars and "Twilight" beefcake Taylor Lautner and dozens of young, bullying fraternity brothers at a 1980s-themed party. The film, at its core, is about standing up to bullies and reclaiming one's community. Some nice sentiments, but so much of it is lost amidst the rampant, third-grade level stabs at humor. Sandler and pals are at a weird stage of their Hollywood life where they want to still enjoy the crude humor of their earlier flicks, but they're all now fathers and husbands. So, they have a need to make family-friendly fare, too. The domestic jokes involving soiled diapers and hen-pecking wives are total sitcom-level yuks. And they're not made any funnier when mixed in with bits like a moose dousing Sandler with urine or a drugged-out Nick Swardson defecating in a Kmart display toilet. I don't think Sandler and Co. have to "grow up" to turn out funny and even lewd and gross comedies that are worth seeing. Just work with people who know how to write and direct such flicks. And please do so before the jokes become about adult diapers and hen-pecking nurses and caregivers.


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