On Friday morning, I started a short staycation with a trip to the local multiplex. I wasn’t going to cast my vote on the werewolf/vampire debate. I’m creating my own hybrid and have started to recruit my own followers. More on that supernatural turn inside the Dome to come. I’m going to veer off of this now-exhausted genre (though the box office receipts say otherwise) and start campaigning for the return of Godzooki or get back to work on my “Wonder Twins” outline from ’93.
Anyway, I rolled off with a huge (this ain’t Venti) cup of Joe to check out a 10am showing of “Grown Ups.” It wasn’t crowded. Most of those creeping toward the ticket window were shouting about Woody, Buzz or the aforementioned Twilight phenomenon, so I crept into a fairly quiet, sparsely attended screening — just in time to see the previews.
I’d heard rumblings of another “Meet The Parents” film. I almost cried after seeing the trailer – not of laughter, but of fear and misery. I’ll see it at some point on ye olde Roku player because of my love of the DeNiro-Keitel combination.
And then, we got to the main event. Perhaps 10am isn’t the best time for slapstick (and sometimes juvenile) humor, at least until the coffee kicks in. Just listen to an interview with a stand-up comic and they’ll tell you as much. So, the jab-jab-jab delivery sometimes had the effect of a sledgehammer on me at times, but the general tone and sentiment of the movie shouldn’t be dismissed.
We’re used to seeing Adam Sandler and his band of merrymen delivering zingers, ridiculous (in a grand way) set-ups and one-liners galore. The inter-play that you’ve seen in past films in there, but they’re, well, grown up. That is to say, fans of the members of this troupe, see that this is the ideal for filmmaking.
It’s like when George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and the band of thieves get together for another Ocean’s caper. Or, when Ben Stiller rolls up Owen Wilson and the boys or Jason Segal, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill … you get the point.
You feel as if you’re looking in on a genuine exchange, where the one-liners and smack-talking echoes their private exchanges and that the over-arching storyline is but a notecard in an improv sketch.
The cast members have, in fact, grown up, with kids of their own, and those hopes, fears, moments of pride and confusion all ring true. See Rock’s “Good Hair” for a look at fatherhood through his unique lens.
And we thank Sandler and the team at Happy Madison for giving us the gifts of Salma Hayek and Maria Bello (and the comedic timing of the radiant Maya Rudolph, who gave birth to a baby girl in November).
There are a couple shots in the film of the parents standing back and watching the kids play and interact with one another. Anyone who has cared for a child a kid knows the thoughts that run through your head during those quiet moments and the little smile and gleam in your eye that occur. That step back from the everyday hustle and bustle can’t always occur at a picturesque lakeside resort. But, as Sandler’s Hollywood agent character and his spoiled family (and everybody else, for that matter) learn, it’s necessary to hit the pause button.
Along the way, we get a great re-telling of the old “let’s create a 30-year old sports grudge” (Seinfeld’s Race, “The Best of Times” and myriad other tv shows and films — I’ll compile a list this weekend and post) with great work from Colin Quinn and Steve Buscemi.
The water park scene gives us quick-hits from Dan Patrick and Norm MacDonald. Don’t worry. The “pee in the pool” ad series doesn’t give away all of the scene.
In the end, I don’t think anybody walks away unsatisfied.
You get the one-liners and shenanigans that put these guys on the map.
You get Kevin James working the physical comedy and showing range with the, uh, unique situations presented by his familial unit.
You get the additions of Madison Riley and Jamie Chung as Schneider’s daughters from past marriages.
You get the aforementioned female leads.
And, at the center of this thing … you get a lot of heart.