Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Grown Ups" Funny and Entertaining

Opera man. Wedding singer. A hockey player turned pro-golfer with anger issues. These are just a few of the portrayals of Adam Sandler's that we've seen over the years. We've also seen him come from his days on "Saturday Night Live" days, to having a successful and lucrative film career. Lately, he's made the move into more family oriented films, although most of them, you still wouldn't want to watch with a five year old. His new "family" film is one such film.

Sandler (who also co-wrote) plays Lenny Feder, a talent agent who lives a very posh lifestyle. After receiving devastating news of the death of his childhood basketball coach, played by Blake Clark, a Sandler film regular, he and his four childhood friends and fellow teammates, David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock and Rob Schneider, all Sandler mainstays as well, take a trip to a New England lakeside cabin to spend a few days together, and spread the ashes of their former coach and mentor. With their families in toe, the five men reunite, albeit under less than ideal circumstances. Despite the underlying reason for their reunion, hilarity and hi-jinks ensue, making for a very funny, gust busting, and tears of laughter creating experience for the viewer.

The topics in the film range from breast-feeding, ageless love, getting back to basics, and even being a vegan. Each subject is presented in signature Sandler fashion, ranging from sarcastic, touching and often just plain disgusting. But each subject is presented in such a way that works within the context of the film. The film is successful, not only because of the chemistry between the main cast of five actors, but also that with the secondary cast, mainly those playing the mens' wives and children. Each man's family life has its flaws, which is a huge part of what makes it a successful part of the film. Salma Hayek plays Roxanne Chase-Feder, the wife of Sandler's Lenny, a union that seemingly is explained only by the existence of wealth. This has, in turn, produced two spoiled children who don't know the meaning of the words tap water. James plays Eric Lamonsoff, a family man as well, but one that does not live quite as extravagantly as his friend. Chris Rock and Rob Schneider play Kurt McKenzie and Rob Hilliard. Kurt (Rock) plays the "Mr. Mom" character, one who not only caters to the needs of his children and a pregnant working wife, but also to his sassy, wise and often flatulent mother in law. Rob's family dynamic is perhaps the funniest of the film. He plays an ultra liberal hippie, if you will, who has long been infatuated with women of an earlier generation. He too, has a family, one that brings another level of hilarity to an already funny film. David Spade plays the confirmed bachelor, a role that certainly works, not only in this film, but in his other projects as well.

Another layer of the film comes from competitiveness. Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Steve Buschemi and Jonathan Loughran play Sandler and company's rivals, as part of the very team they beat to win the only championship of their now deceased coach, a bane of Quinn's character, Bailey. While this undoubtedly adds another layer to the onion, so to speak, I feel it serves as a detriment to the film. Quinn, most of the time, is funny, but his sarcastic comedic delivery can often be misinterpreted as prickly and unkind. For this reason, he has been typecast in many films as the jerk, rival or antagonist. In this film, while the competitive nature of the two groups gives the film some comedic moments, it also acts as an anchor.

This film is a great addition to Sandler's repertoire. It had me laughing so hard at times. There aren't many films that will do that. So for that reason alone, I highly recommend this movie. Even somebody who is not an Adam Sandler fan will find something to enjoy in this one.

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