By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Oh, joy, another one.
The lowbrow 2010 original, Grown Ups, was an excruciatingly awful reunion comedy that looked as if it had been thrown together on one brief, drunken afternoon by a group of privileged buddies who had nothing better to do and nothing but contempt for their audience.
Well, despite being a candidate for that year’s very worst movie, apparently it did well enough to call for another dip in the cesspool.
Thus the sorry sequel, Grown Ups 2, which we can damn with faint praise thusly: it’s a tad better than the original.
There’s no reason to discuss the narrative because there isn’t one. It’s merely another directionless visit with the array of characters we met the first time around.
Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups, Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy) is back at the helm, with his emphasis on quality control and with Adam Sandler back as producer and co-writer along with returning Fred Wolf and newcomer Tim Herlihy.
The nucleus of the cast also returns for another paycheck: Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Cheri Oteri, and Tim Meadows.
Rarely has an array of performing talent been employed so inauspiciously. But at least a few of them have the decency to look embarrassed to be involved. And they should be.
It is three years after the events of the original, and Sandler’s Lenny Feder has moved his family from the big city back to the small town in which he and his best friends grew up.
Over the course of a single summer day, Lenny and his pals live their lives while we wait for the next juvenile slapstick sight gag.
For hyphenate Sandler, this is his first sequel. And it is very much down to his standards.
Once again, we get nonexistent plotting; once again we get considerable feckless, self-indulgent ad-libbing; once again we get lowest-common-denominator jokes and bits repeated incessantly.
Worst of all, we get this: the first movie was stopped dead in its tracks (not that it was exactly speeding along to anywhere to begin with) with an endless montage of cast members barreling down a chute at a water park. It was at that moment that you knew that everyone involved with this project had absolutely given up on it.
So what do they do in the sequel? You guessed it: the entire film is the equivalent of that sequence.
At least the followup has a chuckle or two -– something the original lacked –- but for every giggle there are ten minutes of winces, disapproving stares, and glances toward your watch or the EXIT sign in a movie about characters with arrested development that suffers from the same symptom itself.
Star-writer-producer Sandler has taken the feckless trifecta in director Dugan’s parenthetical credits above and extended it to a string of four self-indulgent turkeys in the space of three years.
That’s not easy to do.
So we’ll grow up into 1 star out of 4 for the bottom-of-the-barrel buddies-comedy bomb, Grown Ups 2. And don’t wait around for outtakes when it ends. There aren’t any. I mean, why bother? That’s all the movie is anyway.