Theirs was the coach's only championship team and his uplifting words have buoyed them through adulthood, so on the occasion of his death, the team reassembles, this time with their families, at the same cottage on Amoskeag Lake where they celebrated their victory 30 years ago.
A lot has changed — Lenny (Sandler) is a big-time Hollywood agent with spoiled kids, Eric (Kevin James) has fallen on hard times, Kurt (Chris Rock) is an unfulfilled house-husband, Marcus (David Spade) is still single and Rob (Rob Schneider) is in a rather unconventional relationship.
But one thing hasn't changed. Locals (Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Steve Buscemi, et al.) still claim Lenny's winning shot was not legitimate. With just one weekend together, they manage to mend all of their relationships, straighten out the kids, and right things with the town yokels.
Director Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Saving Silverman) does the impossible, turning a plot as thin as it is predictable (penned by Sandler) into an extremely watchable movie thanks to pratfalls like James' rope-swinging fiasco and sassy dialog from Spade (who, at one point, call's Schneider's vintage wife "The St. Pauli Grandma").
That's OK. Not every film has to be a Citizen Kane. In fact, summer fun is more often synonymous with guilty pleasures like Stripes or Smokey and the Bandit than with loftier titles like Sophie's Choice or Lawrence of Arabia. That said, Grown Ups has nothing to apologize for.
There's not a lot to brag about, either. For one thing, the soundtrack comes off as an afterthought. Great selections, every one of them (Triumph, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Bob Seger) but they serve only as awkward segues, not mood setters.
Worse is that the cast is far from maximized. David Spade merely plays himself (to be fair, cracking wise is his milieu). Kevin James is "Paul Blart Goes to Camp" (though "Honeymooners" fans might detect a homage to episode No. 39). Maya Rudolph, one of the funniest SNL alums, is still looking for a showcase. Rob Schneider is always a treat, but except for his melodramatic rendition of "Ave Maria" brings nothing new.
The bottom line: Never put comedians in an ensemble; there just isn't enough room for them all to spread their wings.
Still, few movies have kept me laughing so hard throughout that I forgot how unremarkable the storyline actually was.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude material, including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity (David Spade's not Kevin James' which is why it's PG-13 and not NC-17).
(July 5, 2010 NOTE: In retrospect, I may have been overly generous having come away from some extremely disappointing comedies)
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