Grown Ups gets down to the mayhem of family vacations, featuring five dads gone wild. With an ensemble of comedy heavyweights from Adam Sandler to Chris Rock, the film is one long marathon of heavy-handed jokes, major potty humor (literally) and broad stereotypes. No one on this endless adventure is exempt: fat guys, old ladies, spoiled kids and gassy grandmas all become the brunt of non-stop punchlines.
The good news for the film is that there’s enough warmth to make it bearable, and — sometimes — mildly funny. The film follows the antics of five friends who reunite when their high school basketball coach passes away. They hole up in a lake house with their wives and kids for a few days following the funeral, during which the dads plays out their boyhood memories, and, eventually, everyone’s problems seep to the surface.
Each family has its own set of issues: Sandler, who plays a wealthy Hollywood agent, worries when his kids are more into fashion trends than fun. Chris Rock plays Kurt McKenzie, a stay-at-home dad who gets no respect from his working wife (Maya Rudolph), who’s also expecting. Then there’s Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider), a hippie who goes through wives like yoga poses, Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James), who’s wife is tacky, and Marcus Higgins (David Spade) who can’t leave his playboy ways behind.
While the clunkers of dialogue and sheer number of people seem like more than director Dennis Dugan can handle, deep down, these aging buddies care about their kids, their spouses, and each other, even as they hurl non-stop insults at each other like a stand-up comedy convention The put-downs get tiresome — but this Fourth of July, at least the jokes are from the heart.