Published Jul 11, 2013When Adam Sandler finds himself being urinated on by a moose within the first few minutes of Grown Ups 2, it's an early indication of what kind of asinine comedy to hunker down for. Somehow besting the original's aimlessness by stitching together a series of half-baked sketches with little regard for anything resembling plot or character arc, this is less a film than a glorified opportunity for Sandler and his friends to hang out for a few months.
Having now moved with his closest buddies to their old rural hometown, Lenny finds himself both being goaded by his wife (Salma Hayek) into having a fourth child and hosting a big party in the evening to mark the first day of summer. Higgins (David Spade) is faced with the sudden appearance of an illegitimate teenage son, Eric (Kevin James) has intense mommy issues and Kurt (Chris Rock) is pretty much just along for the ride.
The group shambles through episodes that should have titles like "Higgins Rolls Down a Hill Inside a Tire" or "The Gang Jumps Off a Cliff" as they trade insults that attempt to pass for banter. When running afoul of a fraternity led by Taylor Lautner is the biggest threat to their lackadaisical livelihood, it's obvious there's little at stake for any of them.
Despite having these four comedic talents in tow, there's an inexplicable preoccupation with ceding screen time to others. Over the course of one very eventful day, there's a large number of supporting roles, ranging from the mildly amusing (Shaquille O' Neal) to the painfully awkward (Steve Buscemi) and increasingly irritating (Nick Swardson).
Whatever one may think of Sandler, he's clearly at his best when being challenged by a talented director, as with Punch Drunk Love, or, at the very least, free from the confines of a PG rating, as in the underrated That's My Boy. Forced to play to a wider audience, the jokes are even more sophomoric than usual, generously tinged with homophobia and misogyny seemingly for the adults.
It's especially strange when a movie like this, which has shown only a passing interest in paying off plot points, let alone properly setting any up, chooses to bring back that moose from the first scene for a key moment at the end.
By then, the only hope is that he might end up pissing on everything that's come before. (Sony)