Who'd have thought that Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade would be in a film under the banner of Grown Ups? The proof is in the pudding, as the latest Happy Madison production lands on Blu-ray and DVD today.
Follow the leap for my review.
Given the cast - a rag-tag bunch of comedians known for their gurning man-child routines - it isn't surprising that Grown Ups is far from mature. In fact, immaturity abounds as the crew verbally bash one another while Kevin James falls over as many times as possible in under two hours and everyone laughs at how outrageous Rob Schneider's relationship with a pensioner is.
At this point my reviews usually look at plot mechanics and the subtleties of the film-making process, so this is going to have to be a short section. Grown Ups is brazen, unrefined and silly, with little in the way of nuance, but really who expected such things from this kind of film? Rather annoyingly though, Grown Ups doesn't even include some of the simpler things like plot and actual acting that are pre-requisite in even the most fundamental films.
You could forgive the complete lack of plot and complexity if there was more heart, but the film is so lazy, and so willing to trade solely on the chemistry between the cast members that it can't get away with it. The overall effect just feels like a puerile extended joke between some friends who we don't know, rather than an inclusive experience, and it's not a nice feeling to come out of a film with.
At the end of the day the film doesn't offer anything interesting, or new for that matter, since every single one of the male characters has been seen before, played by the same actors in different equally terrible films.
How dare anyone consider this a remake of The Big Chill (because believe it or not it has been said?!). That film was great, a seminal experience that connected with people in a way some films can only hope for, and to reduce it to a serious of childish in-jokes and remove it of all semblance of its humanist message to be replaced with just sugary schmaltz is disgusting.
I have often forgiven Adam Sandler and his usual Happy Madison team of their mistakes, because very occasionally one of the group will make something a little more worthwhile (Reign Over Me was great, Funny People good), but this is one step too far. If I could take the time back, I would.
Not as good as I would have hoped from a Sony release, but that has a lot more to do with the source material than any negligence in the transfer. Skin tones are all over the place, ranging from soda-pop orange to pale, and fine detailing is pretty disappointing for a new release, even in close-ups. While the colour is good, the contrast is terrible, which is particularly damning in a film with so many scenes shot under the blazing sun, as whites just become bleached out to a degree that facial detail is almost entirely wiped out, robbing the image of even more detail when in the most heavily lit-up scenes.
That's the bad, and now for the few good points: colours are vivid and strong, particularly in terms and black levels are concise and faithful, and grain and noise are conspicuously absent. But that's as good as it gets, unfortunately.
A Gag Reel, Out-Takes AND a Riff-O-Rama all in one Extras section?! And yet, in keeping with the rest of the film, not a single laugh to be had. If you can get past that trio of yawn-inducing "comic features", you're a hardier soul than most, including me. Audio Commentary Laughing is Contagious The Lost Tapes of Norm MacDonald Riff-O-Rama Dennis Dugan: Hands on Director The Cast of Grown Ups Busey and the Monkey Outtakes and Deleted Scenes Gag Reel BD-Live Functionality Trailers The Other Guys, Salt, The Karate Kid, Easy A, Stomp the Yard: Homecoming, Eat Pray Love, Beastly, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, Click, and 50 First Dates. Grown-Ups is released today in the U.K. on Blu-ray.