Comedic actors don’t ever age well. Time and success rob even the most gifted funny people of the edge and hunger that made them so hilarious in the first place. It seems that the career path of most comedy stars seems to follow the same, achingly horrific trajectory – risky roles in oddball movies, then a transition either to a soft-around-the-edges sitcom or the occasional dramatic film turn until finally you are either dressing up in a fat suit and whoring for Walt Disney (the Eddie Murphy Syndrome) or dressing up like a doctor / biker / serial killer / Wal-Mart photo attendant for reasons no one understands at all (the Robin Williams Conundrum).
Every generation has to deal with its comedy heroes gradually sliding towards the family-friendly side of the unfunny ledger, but when it happens all at once - in a single film - right in front of your eyes, the effect can be similar to having your own youth stolen from you like an AIG executive with his hands deep in Granny’s retirement fund. I am referring of course to Grown Ups, the film where four famous stand-up comedians commit career suicide at the altar of their own burgeoning transition into middle age.
Grown Up is the kind of film that no comedic actor should ever, ever make, no matter how many dump trucks full of money are backed up to the front of their houses. This stinking pile of wistful ‘the way we were’ bullshit is exactly the type of wallowing, humor-free moralizing that makes you want to zip-tie a plastic bag over your head before you yourself hit the age of 40. Guess what? If we are to believe the message that Grown Ups has to offer us, it turns out that family life changes you from the cool guy you may have once thought you were into the kind of responsible father of two who should never have a camera turned in his direction unless he’s making a night deposit at an ATM or filming some kind of MILF-related amateur porn.
Too bad that Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade didn’t get this memo before signing on to star, because they subject the audience to one and a half hours of awkward moralizing, trophy wives, spoiled brats and boring in-jokes that are never explained during a tedious weekend spent at some dead dude’s lake house. Think of every teen comedy involving summer hijinks you have ever seen and then age the cast 25 years, remove every single joke in the script and add a running gag about a four year old who is still breastfeeding – in public, no less – and you get the general idea of why Grown Ups sucks so much.
I can’t wait until they make the sequel to this film, which will be called ‘Senior Grown Ups’ and which will consist of two hours of footage of a geriatric Adam Sandler and Chris Rock lying side by side in a hospital ward. The only dialogue will be the gentle sobbing of their adult children punctuated by the beeping of the life support system, which critics will hail as an enormous improvement over the first Grown Ups movie. Where are Kevin James and David Spade’s characters in this movie? In my fantasy, Kevin James and David Spade are already dead. And cremated.
By the way, you might have noticed that I didn’t mention the Sandler’s cabana boy Rob Schneider was in this film. I didn’t think I’d have to bring it up, because he’s contractually obligated to appear in every Sandler movie until the end of time in a role that is specifically designed to make you realize that talent plays absolutely no part in 99 percent of Hollywood casting decisions. Is Rob Schneider also the Grown Ups sequel, ‘Senior Grown Ups,’ you might ask? Yes. Yes he is. Rob Schneider, the herpes of Hollywood, is eternal. You keep that shit forever, like luggage.
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