Grown Ups review

It’s all play and no work for Sandler…

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Grown Ups review - A grade-school basketball team reunites after 30 years for their coach’s funeral.

After the ceremony, they spend a weekend at a lake house with their extended families to reminisce about the old days, grouse over their tech-obsessed kids and sex-depriving wives, and maybe learn a few mid-life lessons along the way.

It’s an inoffensive, tried and tested premise lent fresh potential by the casting of five well-versed comic contemporaries: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Hollywood’s reigning stooge Kevin James.

Stick frequent Sandler collaborator Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy et al) in the director’s seat and the good times should surely roll. Alas, the ensuing vibe isn’t so much cosy as dozy.

While there are a few tweaks to standard personas – Rock’s character is a hen-pecked husband, Schneider is the estranged father to an army of Amazonian beauties - you’ve seen these actors play these characters many times before, and better.

Attempts to settle the audience into a nostalgic mood backfire; you can’t help comparing the somnambulant Sandler to his berserk ’90s counterpart, or the muted Rock to his radical heyday.

It’s not a total wash-out. The soundtrack of vintage ’70s and ’80s rock helps gee up flagging energy levels, and there’s the odd moment where the coasting cast manage to fumble the ball into the net.

Schneider rocks an impressive pompadour toupee, Spade has a surprising, amusing nude scene and there are welcome spikes of cringe-comedy involving Maria Bello (as the wife of James’ passive clown) as she breast-feeds her four-year-old son.

But these are slim pickings in a movie where everyone seems to think it’s enough just to show up.

Perhaps Dugan should have sent his five actors off on an actual lakeside vacation and filmed them fly-on-the-wall style instead. It probably would’ve been a lot funnier, edgier and more spontaneous than this lost weekend.

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