Making the Grades
Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s an idiom I can see perfectly framed and hung above the office door at Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. Marketing mythology says the person who came up with the idea of adding that third word—“repeat”—to the instructions on a shampoo bottle nearly doubled the sales of their company’s product. Sandler has done well with the very same tactic by repeating a well-honed template in virtually all of the movies produced by his company.
For starters, don’t worry if you haven’t seen the first Grown Ups. This movie’s plot, four middle-aged men who want to relive the glory days, becomes flotsam and jetsam tossed down the drain to make way for an endless lather of frenetic slapstick setups featuring grown men receiving impacts to the crotch, diving naked from a cliff and partying like it’s 1989.
As usual Sandler is the semi-sensible pack leader of the group. Reprising his role as Lenny, he is the father of three children and the husband to Roxanne (Salma Hayek)—a woman whose intelligence and beauty confirms the backstory that her husband must have made some good money in Hollywood before returning to his California hometown. Lenny’s life-changing move was based on a desire to be closer to his buddies Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Marcus (David Spade) who serve as the clowns that often surround the characters Sandler plays in his films.
This single day-in-the-life of the foursome begins with Lenny awoken by a deer sniffing at the side of his bed. Embracing small town life, his young daughter Becky (Alexys Sanchez) left the front door of their mansion open so animals could come visit. After the deer urinates and ransacks the house, the family is awake, partly dressed, and not quite ready for what the next twenty-four hours will throw at them.
With a cast of literally hundreds (Sandler must have every Hollywood notable in his smartphone directory) it’s impossible to detail each brief scene of these guys attempting to reclaim their youth, their manhood or both—as is the case with the naked cliff dive that results after they are challenged by a group of college thugs led by Taylor Lautner.
Parents thinking a film about fathers with children must be suitable for families might want to think again. Yes, there is a scene at a school dance recital with close to two-dozen grade school girls, but we discover the men’s real interest isn’t to support Lenny’s daughter but instead to ogle the lack of “support” offered by the heavily endowed teacher’s underwear. Acting like 8-year-olds, the only other thing besides breasts and buns that fascinates these boys is learning how to burp and fart in unison. Constantly spewing sexual innuendo and scatological remarks, they also engage in dangerous and anti-social behavior that may be enticing for children to mimic with the hopes of generating the same comedic effect.
Culminating with an 80s-themed party on Lenny’s massive property, the crass revelry becomes even more juvenile when a mob of angry college students arrive and engage the “adults” in full hand-to-hand battle. The fists fly between all genders and ages with some bloody injuries seen as consequences. In the midst of this, Lenny challenges a former grade-school foe (Steve Austin) to a fight in an attempt to show his own son how to handle bullies. Thankfully the two men find a way to resolve the feud without blows in one of the few moments of relative sanity in this movie.
In the end Sandler (who co-wrote the script) serves up his familiar smarmy family dinner scene and offers a summary of what we can learn after a day in Sandlerland. It’s a feeble attempt to rinse the previous 101 minutes of slimy stupidity from our minds and try to forget what we saw before we are tempted to lather up with the next Happy Madison production.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Grown Ups 2.
Portrayals of men acting like school kids are often seen in movies. Do you feel there really are men “stuck” in the past who act like teens or even children? Do we see this same portrayal of women in movies? Why or why not?
How are the women in this movie portrayed? Would you want to be married to any of the male characters in this film?