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Monday, August 12, 2013

Grown Ups 2

Another year, another terrible Adam Sandler film... 

Also up at Channel 24

What it's about

Grown Ups 2 has no plot whatsoever. Seriously.

What we thought

The good news: Grown Ups 2 is a far, far more enjoyable experience than Adam Sandler's last two “comedies”, That's My Boy and Jack and Jill. The bad news: having route canal surgery without an anaesthetic is a more enjoyable experience than watching Jack and Jill and That's My Boy so that's really not saying much.

Just because Grown Ups 2 never plumbs the icky comedic depths of Jack and Jill and doesn't revel in the casual misogyny of That's My Boy doesn't mean that Adam Sandler suddenly developed a sense of humour or basic taste. It's just that if Sandler was somehow able to make a film more hateful, more unfunny, more grotesque than That's My Boy, it would, most probably, bring about The End of Days. Or, at the very least, cause eyeballs to melt out of their sockets and entire multiplex complexes to spontaneously combust.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about any of that just yet because Grown Ups 2 is, very simply, a terrible film – but that's all it is. There's nothing about it that makes you want to take a dip in a pool of hydrochloric acid or have you scurrying to the nearest bomb shelter. It's just another typically awful film to come from Happy Madison Productions and, considering just how many typically awful films that particular production house has released in just over a decade, we should, I suppose, be used to it by now.

So, while there's nothing truly offensive about Grown Ups 2 – well, relatively, anyway – there is just about nothing about it that doesn't stink either. First, like I said, it has literally no plot whatsoever. I don't mean it has a bad plot or a arbitrary plot, I mean it has no plot at all. Grown Ups 2 is like the To The Wonder of comedy movies. A bunch of, at best, uninteresting characters sort of fumble about for a couple of hours, doing very little in particular until the credits roll. And that's pretty much it.

Second, the characters range between bland (Kevin James, as always) to nails-on-blackboard annoying (Nick Swardson – who is especially starting to piss me off because whenever I see his name in the credits my mind always goes to the wonderful Nick Offerman instead) and, though I suppose we should be glad that Sandler dials back his usual “comedic full-retard” voice, he's still one of the worst things in his own film. Oh and David Spade is in there too but really, by this point, who gives a damn? Even generally funny people like Chris Rock, Tim Meadows and Steve Buscemi only provide the barest modicum of chuckles and they're generally wasted in a film that's far less funny than any one of them.

Oh and there are a couple of actresses in the film as well but, while Salma Hayek does little more than play the “hot wife”, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph simply look embarrassed to be there at all.

And well they should be because Grown Ups 2 is one of the year's most staggeringly unfunny comedies. The script itself is clearly very weak – that is, of course assuming that there actually is one to begin with – and at least half the “comedians” in the film haven't made a halfway decent comedy movie in many a moon but if there's one person that really should shoulder much of the blame but tends to be overlooked is the film's director.

It's easy to blame everyone else for how horribly humourless Grown Ups 2 is but Dennis Dugan's abysmal direction is perhaps the biggest culprit in just how flat every single joke falls. Now, again, most of the gags in the film are pretty awful to begin with but Dugan kills even the few that might have landed had they been handled by a director with even so much as a modicum of talent. Harsh, perhaps, but just a quick browse through his IMDB page reveals a roll call of some of the absolute worst American comedies of the past two and a half decades. Comedy direction is an under-appreciated and crucially important artform and it's one that over the past 25 years, Dugan hasn't just failed to master but has noticeably gotten worse and worse at.

And Grown Ups 2 does nothing to suggest that that's going to change any time soon.

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