×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Grown Ups 2’

Among the slackest, laziest, least movie-like movies released by a major studio in the last decade.

With:
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello, Taylor Lautner, Nick Swardson, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Shaquille O’Neal, Alexander Ludwig, Georgia Engel, Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz, Steve Austin, Milo Ventimiglia, April Rose.

The first scene in “Grown Ups 2” depicts a deer urinating directly onto Adam Sandler’s face. The penultimate scene (spoiler alert) depicts the very same deer apparently castrating Taylor Lautner. These bookends are not only the film’s highlights, they also represent the closest it comes to establishing any sort of narrative throughline. Among the slackest, laziest, least movie-like movies released by a major studio in the last decade, “Grown Ups 2” is perhaps the closest Hollywood has yet come to making “Ow! My Balls!” seem like a plausible future project. It is all but guaranteed a strong opening weekend.

A follow-up to 2010’s critically savaged yet massively lucrative “Grown Ups,” this sequel introduces a few changes. Most obviously, although Dennis Dugan is back in the director’s chair and stars Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade all reprise their roles as high-school buddies turned over-the-hill dads, Rob Schneider is mysteriously missing. But more importantly, while “Grown Ups” made some often cringeworthy attempts to shoehorn maudlin life lessons and character arcs into all the crotch smashing, this sequel barely attempts to function as a piece of narrative filmmaking at all, almost immediately devolving into a hash of frantic, random incidents strung together with the slimmest sliver of coherence.

Like “Mrs. Dalloway” and “Ulysses,” “Grown Ups 2” unfolds entirely within the span of a single day; in this case, the last day of school in a small Massachusetts town. Like “Ulysses” — though unlike “Mrs. Dalloway” — it features plentiful flatulence, and James Joyce might well have appreciated the neologism “burpsnart,” which describes Kevin James’ character’s ability to burp, sneeze and fart simultaneously. Whether he would have appreciated seeing this trick repeated no less than five times is an enigma for the ages, though the sheer amount of pissing, vomiting, ear picking, crotch sniffing, man-on-dog tongue kissing and belly-button lint eating that the film contains would surely push anyone over the edge.

Popular on Variety

The cast is massive — in addition to a cross-section of Sandler’s former “Saturday Night Live” compatriots, Lautner, Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Austin are among the newcomers — and rather than attempt to construct intersecting plotlines that involve all these thesps, the script (by Sandler, Fred Wolf and Tim Herlihy) instead simply doles out a single task for each character to accomplish (ask the girl out, avoid the bully, bond with the long-lost son, etc.), the vast majority of which are forgotten as soon as they’re introduced.

As bad as it is at tying up loose ends, the film is even worse at laying groundwork. In one scene, the central foursome come across a giant tire, and with no attempt at explanation or reasonable comedic setup, Spade is simply thrust inside and sent rolling through town, because that’s what grown men do when they find a giant tire.

SEE ALSO: Adam Sandler Gets Chatty at ‘Grown Ups 2′ Premiere

There are some mercies, however. Befitting Sandler’s personal reputation as a mensch, most of the actors seem to have had a good time onset. And while Sandler’s films usually feature wall-to-wall product placement, “Grown Ups 2’s” brand-whoring is constrained to a single — albeit seemingly endless — scene set prominently inside a K-Mart. The film also avoids some of the misanthropy and borderline racism that has emerged in so many recent Sandler projects, although a female bodybuilder comes in for some bizarrely elongated and repeated abuse, and never with more wit than the moment in which Maya Rudolph’s character randomly points at her and yells, “She’s got a penis.”

While the film is hardly distinguished by any of its craft elements, it’s never nearly as ugly as it is stupid.

Film Review: 'Grown Ups 2’

Reviewed at AMC Century City 15, Los Angeles, July 10, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 100 MIN.

Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of a Happy Madison production. Produced by Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo. Executive producers, Barry Bernardi, Allen Covert. Co-producer, Kevin Grady.

Crew: Directed by Dennis Dugan. Screenplay, Fred Wolf, Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy. Camera (color, Deluxe prints), Theo Van de Sande; editor, Tom Costain; music, Rupert Gregson-Williams; music supervisors, Michael Dilbeck, Brooks Arthur, Kevin Grady; production designer, Aaron Osborne; art director, Erin Cochran; set decorator, Jennifer Gentile; costume designer, Ellen Lutter; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/Datasat), Tom Williams; re-recording mixers, Tateum Kohut, Greg Orloff; visual effects supervisor, Edwin Rivera; visual effects, Rhythm & Hues Studios; special effects coordinator, Mark Byers; stunt coordinator, Scott Rogers; assistant director, Daniel Silverberg; supervising sound editors, Kami Asgar, Sean McCormack; second unit directors, Tyler Spindel, Rogers; second unit camera, Josh Bliebtreu, Karsten Gopinath; casting, Roger Mussenden. 

With: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello, Taylor Lautner, Nick Swardson, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Shaquille O’Neal, Alexander Ludwig, Georgia Engel, Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz, Steve Austin, Milo Ventimiglia, April Rose.

More Film

  • THE FAVOURITE

    'The Favourite' Wins Big At The 32nd European Film Awards

    Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Favourite” scooped the 32nd European Film Awards, winning best film, best comedy and best actress for Olivia Colman who previously won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Queen Anne in the film. “The Favourite” was leading the nominations along with Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” Marco Bellocchio’s “The Traitor” and Roman [...]

  • Ed-Skrein-Erica-Rivas-Fernando-Trueba-Lucia-Puenzo

    Ventana Sur 2019: Big New Titles, Argentina-Mexico, Deals, Trends

    BUENOS AIRES   —  The last few years have caught Ventana Sur – Cannes Festival and Market’s biggest initiative outside France – taking place as the industry debated radical change. This year saw the Latin American industries in a state of  transformation themselves, wracked by headwinds – Jair Bolsonaro’s government in Brazil – or looking [...]

  • 'Free Guy' Trailer: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie

    'Free Guy': Ryan Reynolds, Taika Waititi, Jodie Comer Star in First Trailer

    The first trailer for Ryan Reynolds’ “Free Guy” premiered Saturday at the CCXP convention in Brazil. Reynolds stars as Guy, a bank teller and NPC (non-playable character) who discovers he’s living in a video game. In the trailer, hostage situations, buildings being blown up and people shooting guns off in the street is depicted as [...]

  • KARMELE

    Asier Altuna Preps Basque Historical Drama ‘Karmele the Hour of Waking Together’

    Basque cinema is booming, and director Asier Altuna is part of the vanguard leading it forward. The Spanish filmmaker, behind 2005 Youth Award winner “Aupa Etxebeste!” and 2015 Best Basque Film “Amama” at the San Sebastián Intl. Film Festival, attended this year’s Ventana Sur Proyecta sidebar with his next project, “Karmele, the Hour of Waking [...]

  • The Day is Long and Dark

    Francisco Barreiro Cast in Upcoming Julio Hernández Cordón Project (EXCLUSIVE)

    Julio Hernández Cordón, one of Mexico’s most-awarded independent filmmakers over the last decade, has found the leading man for his next feature “The Day is Long and Dark (My Friends are Vampires),” in Fantastic Fest best actor winner Francisco Barreiro, star of Adrián García Bogliano’s “Here Comes the Devil.”. Barreiro’s casting was shared with Variety from Buenos [...]

  • Macabre

    Rio Fest’s Compact Edition Opens Amidst Sectorial Crisis

    RIO DE JANEIRO  — The 21st Rio Intl. Film Fest opens Monday Dec. 9t with the screening of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” in the Odeon landmark theater. The smaller than usual edition, which was almost cancelled due to the lack of municipal backing, reflects the crisis of Brazil’s film sector, involved in a battle with the administration [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content