Saturday, July 10, 2010

Off the Beat: Grown Ups

It's very rare that I get a chance to see a movie just for the hell of it. Recently, the girlfriend and I had a free Saturday, so we went to see Adam Sandler's "Grown Ups." Part of the reason why I went was that I really didn't want to watch anything that involved a large amount of thinking on my end. Sometimes a man needs to see Kevin James ram into a giant tree.

I know a ton of critics have been stomping their feet and howling at how awful "Grown Ups" is. I thought it was harmless and fairly amusing, and it's about what you expect from Sandler, who after abandoning the renegade stupidity of "Happy Gilmore" and "Billy Madison" has settled into a kind of mildly entertaining, none-too-challenging middle ground.

What upset me about "Grown Ups" is that it tries to pretend it's not Sandler and his friends goofing off by occasionally lapsing into "Big Chill"/what's-wrong-with-these damned-kids today territory, which doesn't work for two reasons: A.) The poignant moments are shallow and resolved with sitcom-like efficiency; B.) No one in the cast can pull of those moments, except for Maria Bello and Salma Hayek, who are relegated to meh supporting roles.

That's what bothered more than anything else. I don't mind Sandler, and I think critics who continue to bemoan his presence are wasting their breath. It's like complaining about the price of gasoline or the humidity. He's not going away anytime soon. We know how high the bar is set with him, and all we can hope for is that he doesn't crawl underneath it.

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