The pain of watching a shlocky film is trivial compared to the torture of sitting through a shlocky film that has convinced itself that it has a message beyond being awful. The latter is the experience of GROWN UPS, a dismal interlude that in the first 10 minutes establishes that men are idiots, women are bitches, and children exist solely as set-ups for the insipid efforts that pass for jokes here.
The sloppily contrived premise is the funeral of a high-school basketball coach that brings together five former teammates who have lost touch with each other since then. The audience understands why this is, what with each being a particular kind of irredeemably annoying. Rather than explore why being annoying has kept them apart, they choose to pick up where they left off. This is not difficult because each is still in the full flower of adolescence, chronological age be damned.
Four of them have wives and children now, and all of them remain firmly in the throes of a profound Peter Pan syndrome. Adam Sandler, co-producer and co-writer, has given his character the hottest of the hot wives in the person of Salma Hayak Pinault. Hes a big-time Hollywood agent, shes a fashion designer, their kids are brats with a taste for high-end bottled water and freshly made gelato. Kevin James is the outdoor furniture king with hot wife Maria Bello and a four-year-old who is still nursing from her. Chris Rock is the househusband with hot wife Maya Rudolph, a bunion-ridden mother-in-law, mouthy kids, and no respect for either himself or his pumpkin risotto from anybody. Rob Schneider is the pompadour-coiffed New Age weenie with the elderly, but highly hormonal earth-mother of a wife in the person of Joyce Van Patten, and three daughters of varying hotness from previous marriages, over whom all the other men pant without bothering to be coy about it. David Spade is the single guy still living in a basement somewhere and dating waitresses from chain restaurants. In order for there to be a film of any sort, they must and do find themselves trapped in a large house for a weekend, where they can catch up and the diverting hi-jinks can fail to materialize for the viewer.
There is not an original idea in any of these characters, as each of the actors bumbles through their paces as though they, like the characters, were on vacation. They are convinced that they are hilarious no matter what bit of business they foist upon the audience, be it extended tongue play between Schneider and Van Patten, or a sequence involving Sandler and James drinking simultaneously and endlessly out of plastic water jugs. Then, after peeing jokes aplenty and the obligatory misuse of the breast pump, the script has the temerity to turn sentimental with the same touchy-feely schmaltz that it spent the first part of the story making sport of.
GROWN UPS introduces product placement to funerary rites as part of its random gobbets of gag-inducing awfulness, posits a world where 10-year-olds dont know the idiomatic definition of wasted, and where vegans eat burgers, Strung together with no thought of coherence, it unfolds in a relentless parade of unrelated, unendurable snippets dire enough to suck the life out of even the most robust soul.