Grown Ups [Blu-Ray] Dennis Dugan

Grown Ups [Blu-Ray] Dennis Dugan
In its own way, being a "movie star" is as challenging as being an "actor." Yes, movie stars are capable of great acting, but first and foremost, they must create an appealing persona that remains consistent in most of their movies, and must have a similarly appealing off-screen demeanour for publicity. On a certain gut level, I like Adam Sandler ― not his movies, although he makes a good one now and then, but his laid-back, gently self-deprecating screen persona that's virtually indistinguishable from the persona he brings to public appearances. I've seen him in enough movies and on enough talk shows that he feels, well, not like a friend, but comfortingly familiar. How much do I really know about the man? I know the broad outlines of his career ― stand-up comedian turned SNL player turned movie star ― and that he's loyal to his old SNL buddies Rob Schneider and David Spade. I am also vaguely aware that he has a wife and kids, and I think he's a Republican. I know nothing of his wants and desires, fears and insecurities, how success has changed him, what compels him to continue working or any of the psychological nitty-gritty that makes us who we are. In Funny People (2009), his least popular comedy in years, he played an actor not unlike himself whose fame and wealth couldn't compensate for his deep loneliness. In the more financially successful Grown Ups, he plays "the biggest agent in Hollywood" (I know this because he helpfully announces it in his first line), but, really, he's just playing the affable "Adam Sandler" character we've seen on talk shows while Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider and David Spade, his long-time friends on-screen and off, do the same. The two films might make for an interesting double feature, since Sandler basically plays himself in both, only Grown Ups shows the happy, uncomplicated "real Adam Sandler" his fans would like to believe exists. Grown Ups is a pretty sloppy piece of filmmaking even by Happy Madison standards: the "plot" is the thinnest of clotheslines to hang a series of gags upon that are occasionally funny, but often not: a muscle-bound stud in a Speedo talks in a high-pitched French-Canadian voice! The film's anything-for-a-laugh spirit causes it to abandon internal logic (Schneider is married to the elderly Joyce Van Patten, engaging in make-outs that would be exhibitionistic on prom night); the sentimental passages are particularly contrived (all five characters' personal/marital issues are resolved in one single scene); and, damn, Chris Rock doesn't have much to do, does he? Still, as shoddy as Grown Ups is, I didn't hate it and I might go so far as to say I felt a small amount of affection for it. It's just so bare-bones, so unpretentious and so unwilling to work up even the slightest illusion that it's a real movie and not just a glorified excuse for five friends to hang out that I was happy to let it coast along, at least until it wore out its welcome in the second half. Maybe I like the illusion of the "real Adam Sandler" as much as anybody. The best of the Blu-Ray extras is a featurette with Norm MacDonald, whose scenes as an aggressively chipper wannabe-friend called "Geezer" were cut. In a movie where any ten minutes could have been removed without doing any damage to the narrative flow, why cut out the funniest part? (Sony)