In 'Grown Ups,' Adam Sandler & pals reunite for a warm frolic in juvenile humor

Posted: June 25, 2010

You've probably noticed that it's reunion and revival time at the movies.

The trend continues in "Grown Ups," a movie that doesn't quite stretch back to the persistently celebrated 1980s, but almost - stars Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider headlined the "Saturday Night Live" cast of 1990.

Minus Chris Farley, replaced here by roly-poly doppelgänger Kevin James.

Sandler plays the ringleader of old rec league youth team that reunites for the funeral of its inspirational coach, who taught the kids to work hard, to never quit.

The advice has made Sandler's character a millionaire Hollywood agent, but his grown teammates are lagging, if not quitting - Rock is a feminized househusband, James an unemployed salesman, Spade an alcoholic womanizer, Schneider a twice-divorced hippie now married to an earth mother 30 years his senior.

Jokes about guys having sex with postmenopausal women occur in nearly every movie pairing Sandler with director Dennis Dugan, and perhaps one of them should page Dr. Freud.

Dugan and Sandler ("Happy Gilmore," "Don't Mess With the Zohan") are like the BP of lowbrow gags. Their movies are an unpluggable gusher of juvenile comedy; the good gags wash up along the bad, and it's your job to sort through the muck.

Still, there's something admirable, almost, about their indiscriminating embrace of vulgar jokes, their fierce devotion to them. A joke about breast-feeding is repeated and embellished a dozen times, like Hooters haiku. Ditto an infected toe. Pee is a touchstone - Dugan and Sandler double up on a pee-in-the-pool joke, then move onto James' enlarged prostate and his weak stream.

They may enjoy this more than the audience, but it's hard not to be caught in up some of the obvious cast camaraderie and chemistry, peaking (pardon the pun) in a scene of the men working in shifts to more discreetly gawk at a young woman's behind.

Sandler may be his own biggest fan, and there's some danger in that - his movies could often use a more judicious editor. But he's also obviously fond of his co-stars, and "Grown Ups" has a weird kind of warmth that serves it well.

Gross-out comedies are often marked by sourness and cynicism, but there's none of that here. It is, in its own disgusting way, a family movie.

Based on the Sandler/Dugan doctrine: The family that laughs at fart jokes together, stays together.

Produced by Jack Giarraputo, Adam Sandler, directed by Dennis Dugan, written by Fred Wolf, Adam Sandler, music by Ruper Gregson-Williams, distributed by Sony Pictures.

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