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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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