When I bemoaned Grown Ups both on its merits and that it made more than $150 million domestically and almost $275 million worldwide, I think we all understood that it was going to return for a sequel, right? Right? Well, it did, and the result is about what we all expected, and then some.
The gang from the first film returns for this one. Which means Adam Sandler, (Funny People), Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Chris Rock (Death at a Funeral) and David Spade (The Benchwarmers). Rob Schneider was in the first film but was replaced by Nick Swardson (30 Minutes Or Less), which appears to replacing an unfunny guy with another one. The wives of the characters are all back too, so we get Salma Hayek (Cirque du Freak) and Maria Bello (World Trade Center) wearing a lot of things designed to push their ‘girls' up, because they're pretty you see. Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) plays Deanne, Rock's wife in the film, for another turn too. The film finds the boys living in the same small town after Lenny (Sandler) brings his family back to be closer to them. While living in town they deal with a myriad of things, including bullies targeting their kids, a possible threat to their respective marriages and a fraternity of lacrosse bros, headed by Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) and Taylor Lautner (Twilight), the latter of whom appears in the film uncredited.
Before going into the onscreen events, allow me to tangent to the most frustrating thing in this film, and that is the underutilization of some actually genuinely funny elements in it. I was stunned to see SNL alums Andy Samberg and Will Forte appear in the film as male cheerleaders that create their own take on the sudsy, sultry car wash for one of the guys. These are guys that are funny individually, yet collectively they are relegated to the background, with nary a consequential line of dialogue to speak of. Because apparently the fat guy who can burp and fart at the same time? Well, that's funny by crikey! Give me a break. I can understand why Rock and Spade, two legitimately funny standup performers, do little to actually contribute here, because I am sure that being next to Sandler allows them a bit of comfort so if the question "how do you sleep at night while you compromise your integrity?" is ever asked, I am sure the answer would be "on a nice mink stuffed mattress courtesy of my check from Sony."
That's right, James' burping and farting is designed to do what exactly? Parody or troll those who parody the Jamesandlerockade quartet? I don't think so, I think it is an honest attempt by them to interpret what they think is funny to most people and translate that outward. Consider that in the first two and a half minutes of the movie, a deer walks into Lenny's house in the early morning and watches him and his wife sleep. When the deer is startled, it gets on its arrears and starts urinating on Lenny, who is still lying in bed. It leaves the room and goes to the bathroom, where Lenny's oldest son is showering. It urinates some more on the son who is screaming, not only because he is in some wilderness R. Kelly video, but now his mother has gotten up and is seeing this happen to her naked teenaged son. Having shattered the household, the deer runs down two flights of stairs (after apparently going up them surreptitiously, like a deer ninja) and out of the house. This is comedy according to Adam Sandler.
There are a host of other stunts that are designed with the intent of being funny (at the earlier mentioned car wash, washing down Shaquille O'Neal, one of a myriad of guest stars as is the case in any Sandler movie) but are not, but that one is easily the most egregious. The film is not 100 minutes of dumb stunts, as Deanne and Kurt are dealing with possible cracks in their marriage as they celebrate their 20th anniversary, or while Marcus (Spade) attempts to reconcile with a teenaged, previously unknown son, but it is marinated in a lot of dumb comic acts meant to be laughs. Things that have been done so many times it is mind-blowing to think that they still could be considered funny even at a base level.
Perhaps sadder in all of this? Grown Ups 2 made more than $130 million domestically and almost $250 million worldwide. These two films combined have made more than half a billion dollars. So count on there being more Grown Ups movies until everyone punches their neighbor in the genitals until they promise to never do this again.
A glorious 1.85:1 widescreen, high-definition presentation with an AVC encode from Sony adorns Grown Ups 2. And image detail and clarity is something that is striking, starting with an aerial opening shot over the countryside, with lots of greens in the trees looking vivid and clear. In closer shots individual hairs and occasional pores can be spotted. Colors are without excessive saturation and film grain can be spotted early on during viewing. Studio gives high(ish) profile title a solid to excellent transfer, which has to be the expectation at this point, yes?
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless is what you get here, with the overall result being just as good as the transfer. As distasteful as the deer sequence is, it helps shows off just how good the soundtrack is, with directional effects and channel panning which forebodes how present these elements are in the listening experience. Dialogue is consistent and well-balanced throughout, and the subwoofer gets a better than expected workout during the movie. Sony does just as right sonically to the film as it does visually.
Things start with eight deleted scenes (6:28) that add little to the experience, followed by "Look Who Stopped By" (4:26), a quick look at the new regulars and guest stars for the movie (of which there are many), while "The Feder House" (1:31) shows us the undertaking to make a set out of a huge expanse of Massachusetts land, while "Mr. Spade's Wild Ride" (2:10) is where Spade's scene in a huge truck tire is shown. "Shaq and Dante: Police Force" (1:53) is a quick piece with the player and Sandler stock company member Peter Dante goofing around onset. Grown Ups 2 comes with a standard definition disc and a code for streaming/downloading through Ultraviolet.
After watching both Grown Ups films, I am left with several feelings. First is the shame I feel for the country and the world for patronizing these things. Second, that Paul Thomas Anderson looks more and more like a genius for Punch-Drunk Love, and third, the production budgets of these movies are such that there may be some light extortion going on. But that may be hyperbolic. Technically the disc is fine, even if the supplements are nonexistent. Go read a book, as watching this will make you dumber…er.