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Grown Ups

Sandler Tamed

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

If Adam Sandler's latest comedy Grown Ups is any indication, heís getting mellow in his middle age. Less crude, vulgar, and obnoxious than his recent contributions to the genre, Grown Ups finds Sandlerís character, Lenny Feder, a mega-wealthy talent agent, grappling with generic family issues.

Itís overlong and self-indulgent (102 painful minutes) with long gaps between attempts at verbal or physical humor. The end result is a barely tolerable, ultimately forgettable film.

Feder has a great life. Heís married to Roxanne Chase-Feder (Salma Hayek), and has three children, a McMansion, and a nanny, Rita (Di Quon). Heís spoiled his children, letting them play violent video games for hours on end. When his one-time CYO coach dies, heís brought back together with his old friends, Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James); available for any and all fat guy jokes; Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock), a.k.a., the token African-American and house husband (cue emasculation jokes); Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider), a New Ager; and Marcus Higgins (David Spade), the obligatory single guy and womanizer who is present, of course, to remind Lenny and the others of how good they really have it.

Directed by Sandler regular Dennis Dugan (You Donít Mess with the Zohan, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore), Grown Ups lurches from one contrived conflict to another, each minor and insignificant by anyoneís standards. Weíre forced to sit through multiple scenes of Lenny and company lusting after Robís two hot daughters (the third, less attractive daughter becomes the punchline to an unfunny joke), a non-essential trip to a water park, and a rematch basketball game with an old nemesis, Dickie Bailey (a too-old Colin Quinn). Cue banal life lessons, group hug, and roll credits on another Sandler non-effort.

Not counting Sandlerís dramatic or semi-dramatic roles (e.g., Funny People, Spanglish, Punch Drunk Love), Grown Ups will end its run as another commercial hit for Sandler. Only the combination of more discerning moviegoers and a rare non-hit will convince Sandler to up his game. Itís unlikely, but not outside the realm of possibility.