October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups” only for the immature at heart

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Grown Ups (** out of 4)
In “Grown Ups,” five childhood friends reunite after years apart to honor the memory of their recently deceased basketball coach.

We care, marginally, because they are played by “Saturday Night Live” alums and real-life pals Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Kevin James (who wasn’t on “SNL” with this crew but hopped aboard Sandler’s gravy train with “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and seems to be enjoying the ride).

And “Grown Ups,” to be fair, gets some mileage and earns its few laughs from the unforced chemistry shared between seasoned comics who grew up together, professionally speaking.

Comedians are a strange bunch. Naturally surly and instinctively defensive, they appear most comfortable when surrounded by other comics.

I love listening to the nationally syndicated satellite radio program, “The Opie and Anthony Show.” The hosts regularly invite vicious stand ups as guests, and the sharpest segments feature sarcastic comics like Jim Norton, Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal, Louis C.K., Robert Kelly, Dane Cook, Rich Vos, or Jay Mohr shredding each other for the good of a joke.

Sandler and his co-stars possess that competitive camaraderie, and “Grown Ups” is at its funniest when the five friends are riffing on each other’s weight, appearance, insecurities, and flaws. Some of the one-liners broken off by Rock, Sandler, and Spade, in particular, are very funny (and, by the looks of the genuine laughter in the cast, unscripted).

Dennis Dugan’s film needed plenty more of those jokey interactions, and a lot less of the toilet humor that chokes away the cleverness and friendly atmosphere of the film’s opening act. Not that I’m surprised. Bathroom jokes have always been Sandler’s preference, and so James must urinate on Spade, Schneider has to get kicked in the balls (twice), and Maria Bello has to spray breast milk in Maya Rudolph’s face. One running joke involves Schneider’s character having sex with a woman old enough to be his grandmother. Another joke suggests Spade had sex with a dog. Not very grown up, is it?

That brings me to another point. “Grown Ups” continues Sandler’s impressive streak of casting incredibly beautiful actresses as his love interests. This guy’s track record is Hall of Fame worthy. On screen, he has dated or been married to Julie Bowen, Winona Ryder, Drew Barrymore, Marisa Tomei, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Emmanuelle Chriqui and, currently, Salma Hayek. At least in “Grown Ups,” he spreads the wealth, so that Rock and James can play house with the lovely Rudolph and Bello, respectively.

It initially struck me that these guys have no business being with such classy, delicate flowers. Then, as a hunky lifeguard approached the bikini-clad beauties at the town water park, one of the girls warned, “Whatever you do, don’t fart.” Ah, well. Apparently these are love connections established somewhere south of heaven. Like in the groin.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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