'Grown Ups 2' gets no easier to watch
'Grown Ups 2' Rated PG-13: 100 minutes One star out of four
LOS ANGELES - It would be dishonest to call "Grown Ups 2" the most repellent high-profile comedy in recent memory.
But that's largely because few moviegoers have memories kind enough to have already erased 2010's "Grown Ups" - which offered almost every loathsome quality of this installment, plus Rob Schneider.
Adam Sandler returns as Lenny, a Hollywood player who since the first film has moved his family to his rural hometown, where the kids can bike to school and Dad gets plenty of Guy Time with pals Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock) and Marcus (David Spade).
Happily, this film's conception of male friendship is less reliant on insults and abuse than its predecessor, and doesn't need to paint the wives as shrews in order to give the motley bunch something in common.
Which is not at all to say that the humor has matured. The opening scene, in which a deer wanders into Lenny's house, offers two separate occasions in which the beast rears back on hind legs to urinate on someone; the second goes on long enough to suggest someone has a fetish to indulge.
Set on the last day of school, the script follows as Lenny commandeers his kids' bus (the driver, played by Nick Swardson, is high on pills) and, after dropping the kids off, makes a day of it with his hooky-playing pals.
Together they pioneer new bodily functions (Eric's "Burp-snarting," which may sound more amusing than it is) and fantasize about their daughters' dance instructor, who the credits helpfully dub "Hot Dance Teacher."
Soon the fellows are trying to make old bodies do what young ones never did. Visiting a favorite swimming hole so Eric can dive off the cliff he always feared, they cross paths with a band of frat boys (led by Taylor Lautner), whose collective loutishness makes Sandler & Co. look like knights of the Round Table.
A rivalry is born, though the adults don't know they're being targeted for destruction. Instead, they decide to throw an '80s-themed yard party, and in a couple of hours, half the town arrives in costumes that would have taken a week to assemble.
Like the first film, this one is built upon the misguided idea that 5 or 10 minutes of sentimental family-values talk can coexist with an hour and a half of burp-snarting.
Here, Lenny must contend with the news that his wife (Salma Hayek) wants to have a fourth child; Eric, inexplicably, must keep his wife (Maria Bello) in the dark about how much time he spends keeping his elderly mother company; Marcus must make peace with the thuggish son he never knew he sired; and Kurt ... well, Chris Rock gets to ad-lib one or two funny lines.
Sandler has never before made a sequel. That he would make an exception for "Grown Ups" says nothing good about his trajectory as an artist.(John DeFore,The Hollywood Reporter)