Grown-Ups: Dennis Dugan’s Comedy Starring Adam Sandler

“Grown Ups,” the new Adam Sandler genial but unfunny comedy, shows that the comedian is simply refusing to mature as an actor, or to diversify his repertoire, which is quickly becoming boring.

Worse yet, instead of elevating his 1990 Saturday Night Live peers, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider (Kevin James, who was not in SNL, is the fourth guy), Sandler drags them down to a level of lowbrow infantile comedy, in which most of the jokes are predictable.

The premise for this film, which is set in the Fourth of July, is not bad: Five men, who were best friends when they were young kids, get together with their families for the first time in thirty years. Picking up where they left off, they discover that growing older doesn’t necessarily mean growing up.
Poorly directed by Dennis Dugan, the tale is co-penned by star Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf, leading us to believe, erroneously as it turns out, that this is a more personal and meaningful enterprise for the thespian than previous efforts.
If they were really intimate friends, it’s never made clear or convincing why these amigos have waited for so long—30 years–to get together and meet each others’ families for the first time. The excuse (or the reason) for the reunion is the death of their beloved former basketball coach. The shocking event prompts them to return to their hometown to spend the summer at the lake house where they had celebrated their championship years earlier.
In theory, “Grown Ups” sounds like a reworking of “The Big Chill” and other reunion pictures made in the 1980s, such as John Sayles’ debut, “The Return of the Secaucus Seven.” As a writer, Sandler aims at exploring a bunch of young middle-aged guys who feel like they have lost their perspective of what’s important in life. Going through mid-life crisis, these young middle-aged men use their return to their beloved hometown as an opportunity to get back to their roots, and then get their respective families (and themselves) on the right track.
The leader of the cohort is Lenny Feder (Sander), who takes the initiative of renting a lake house and then invite his old friends and their families to come and stay with him for the Fourth of July weekend. The reunion involves wives, girlfriends, children and even dogs, at a crucial time, when they’re all transitioning in their lives.
Lenny is meant to be a powerful and aggressive talent agent, but as played by Sandler he is soft, genial, and certainly not abrasive. He arrives with his fashion-designer wife (Salma Hayek), three children, and a full-time nanny.
Rest of the bunch are not as rich or successful.  Eric Lamonsoff (James) is a lawn furniture guy, married to Maria Belo, who still breast-feeds their four-year-old son.  Chris Rock plays Kurt McKenzie, a stay-at-home father of two, who arrives with his pregnant wife (Maya Rudolph) and her mother-in-law (Ebony Jo-Ann). 
David Spade plays the only bachelor in the group, while Rob Schneider is a multiple-married guy, whose current spouse (Joyce Van Patten) is older than him, and rest assured that there are jokes about the age disparity, though, they too, are mild and inoffensive, like the rest of the aga.
The film, which is only 100 minutes or so but feels much longer, drags along until it reaches its sentimental (anti) climax.  For a presumably raw comedy, “Grown Ups” is too safe and nostalgic for its own good, showing men who crave to go back to a time, when life was simpler (or less complicated), in order to find firmer grounding and greater meaning in their rather boring present lives.