Sony // 2013 // 101 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // November 5th, 2013
Just because they're a little older doesn't mean they've grown up.
I didn't feel any significant change when I passed the thirty-year mark, but in my newly mature state I decide that I was going to do away with knee-jerk hatred of popular culture. I vowed to take even silliest of music and movie products on their own merits. If I didn't like them, that was fine, but I wanted to do away with the "Ugh, that's popular so it must suck" attitude. I was doing fine, exploring everything from Miley Cyrus to the Despicable Me sequel with abandon. Then I encountered Grown Ups 2. I'd somehow missed the first one, but the sequel was unavoidable. Old me would have dismissed the film out of hand -- Adam Sandler hasn't made a decent film in years -- but the new me wanted to give it at chance. Sadly, I needn't have bothered. Grown Ups 2 is an unfunny mess that still managed to make over $250 million at the box office. Grown Ups 2 (Blu-ray) brings it home so fans can relive the pain all over again.
Everyone but Rob Schneider returns to Grown Ups 2, as Lenny (Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore) moves back to his hometown to be closer to Kurt (Chris Rock, Dogma), Eric (Kevin James, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), and Marcus (David Spade, Joe Dirt). It's summertime, so the group plans a party, and since these guys are nostalgia hounds, it's gotta be an '80s-themed party. Of course all is not well in their small town as marriages are threatened, kids fall in love, and violence lurks beneath the surface.
The best thing I can say about Grown Ups 2 is that it gets its style down completely in the first two minutes. From that very first scene, you should have a pretty good idea if it's the right film for you. We open on Adam Sandler, nestled happily in bed next to his wife (Salma Hayek, From Dusk Till Dawn). His eyes flutter open, and what should he see but a very large buck in front of him. He rouses his wife, telling her to open the windows wide, but she won't wake up. After some pestering, she goes to chastise him but instead notices the deer and freaks out. This unsurprisingly startles the deer, who proceeds to rear back and urinate on Sandler's face. The frightened deer runs out of the bedroom and down the hall, finding the family's eldest son in the shower; he too is startled and quite naked, and his screams again frighten the deer who proceeds to urinate on him as well. Sandler and his youngest son decide throwing their laundry at the deer is a good strategy, so naturally the deer ends up with a bra on its antlers before racing downstairs and being finally ejected from the house.
That's it: if you think having a deer piss on Adam Sandler before having his head adorned with a bra is the height of comedy, or hell, even mildly amusing, then Grown Ups 2 is the movie for you. Perhaps that's not totally fair; the film also does a pretty good job of casting fun cameo appearances. Shaq, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and Taylor Lautner all show up to skewer their media personas, and these are easily the best moments of the film. They're not all that funny, but they're like tiny oases of talent in a sea of unfunny.
If Grown Ups 2 is the film for you, then you'll be pleased with Grown Ups 2 (Blu-ray). The opening minutes appear to have been softened a bit (the better to hide the dodgy deer CGI), but once things get going, this 1.85:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is top-notch. Detail is staggering throughout, with everything from the tiniest lines on the aging actors' closeups to the thread count of the sheets in the deer-peeing opening are clearly visible. Colors, too, are bold, with plenty of saturation (especially in those '80s-inspired costumes). Black levels are rock solid as well, and no noise or compression artefacts show up to mar the image. The DTS-HD 5.1 track is equally impressive. Dialogue is cleaner and clearer than I'd like given the limpness of most of the comedy, but the soundtrack really shows its muscle during music cues. Dynamic range and bass response are especially impressive.
Extras start with about 7 minutes of deleted scenes, none of which are remotely essential. Four featurettes take a couple minutes apiece to go over a few aspects of the film's production, including Lenny's house and the new cast members for this outing.
I guess I can give some begrudging respect to Grown Ups 2 as a victory lap after the unexpected success of the first film; $270 million worldwide was probably not on anyone's radar during production, but the film proved to be a big hit. For a cut of the backend, I too would have happily starred in Grown Ups 2 (and if anyone is asking, I'll gladly appear in Grown Ups 3 for gross points). I can also understand the appeal of getting a group of comics together to make a film; it seems to work most of the time that Judd Apatow, David Gordon Green, and Seth Rogan do it, so why shouldn't a stalwart like Sandler get in on the game?
Oh, yeah, because nothing here is actually funny. The whole premise is so old-hat they could have found it in an attic, and rather than stitching the film together from the best scenes they could improvise, it seems like a bunch of comic heavyweights just stuck to a lackluster script like a leash around their necks. Five minute standup sets from the main cast (Maria Bello and Salma Hayek included) would have made a better film in even less time. While we're on the subject of the ladies, somehow the Grown Ups franchise got some seriously talented actresses to appear in the films and use them for the lamest jokes, and frankly, to show their cleavage. There's nothing necessarily wrong with attractive women dressing to accentuate their bodies, but we should be long past the point where women exist in comedy to be window-dressing.
I guess if you liked Grown Ups (and based on box office, a lot of people did), then this sequel won't disappoint too badly -- and you get the bonus of a decent Blu-ray release to sweeten the pot. If you don't care about Adam Sandler, or aren't a rabid fan of the other actors here, do yourself the favor of skipping this and doing some growing up of your own.
Could use some growing up. Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2013 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English, Descriptive)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* UltraViolet Download
* Official Site
* Facebook Page