CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Blu-Ray Review: Adam Sandler, Kevin James Star in Mediocre ‘Grown Ups’
CHICAGO – Nowhere near as abysmal as some of Adam Sandler’s worst comedies and yet also not nearly as good as it could or should have been, “Grown Ups” might make a reasonable rental on a late fall evening but don’t get your expectations too high. Sandler may be trying to grow up with his comedy friends but a lazy script and horrendous direction by regular collaborator Dennis Dugan hold back what should have been one of the stronger comedy ensembles of the year.
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0
Dugan has worked with Sandler on the decent “Big Daddy,” forgettable “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” and absolutely-awful “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and it feels like he appeals to Sandler’s worst habits as a comedian. One can see the quality comedy buried underneath the gross-out jokes, faux sentimentality, and horrendous directorial comic timing but “Grown Ups” still had some maturing to do before being released on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is a successful Hollywood agent with spoiled kids, a nanny, and a high maintenance wife (Salma Hayek) but he’s reminded of a simpler time when his basketball coach from thirty years earlier passes away and the other members of his championship-winning basketball team reunite for the funeral: Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James), Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock), Marcus Higgins (David Spade), and Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider).
Grown Ups was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 9th, 2010
Photo credit: Sony
Naturally, every one of the guys has to come with their own subplots. Eric’s wife Sally (Maria Bello) is uncomfortably still breastfeeding their four-year-old son (although the way-too-talented-for-this James is really just here to fall down and make fat jokes). Deanne (Maya Rudolph), Kurt’s pregnant wife, wears the pants in the family and even allows her mother (Ebony Jo-Ann) to berate and abuse her husband. Marcus comes to the game as the player (yes, we’re still expected to believe that David Spade is a player) and ends up hitting on Rob’s unnaturally hot daughters. And then there’s Rob, yet another stupid Schneider creation: A hippie who happens to be married to a woman (Joyce Van Patten) old enough to be his mother. Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Meadows pop up in small roles.
The plot of “Grown Ups” is its biggest problem. When the actors aren’t being forced into awkward set-ups, the film kind of works. The friendship and cameraderie of these guys can be infectious when they’re allowed to be natural. You could also do a lot worse than having Bello, Hayek, and Rudolph in your female supporting cast, although they’re all wasted to varying degrees. The problem is that co-writers Sandlr and Fred Wolf don’t know how to tell an actual story.
However, Dugan gets most of the blame. His pacing and comic timing are just awful. A bit where Rock comes up with puns for his mother-in-law’s bunion that are as painfully-unfunny as “Toe J. Simpson” is dragged out WAY past the breaking point while actually-funny bits feel hurried. A scene near the end in which all of the emotional subplots of the piece hit one peak at the same time almost feels like a parody of junk like this but I don’t think Dugan was making fun of bad comedies, just directing one.
o Laughing is Contagious - Blooper Reel
o Gag Reel
o “The Cast of Grown Ups”
o Deleted Scenes
o “Dennis Dugan: Hands on Director”