“Grown Ups 2” is only a movie in the most technical way, because this latest seepage from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison septic system literally has no story and no plot, a show about absolutely nothing.
Jerry Seinfeld famously said “Seinfeld” was about nothing, but that was also famously not true. Sandler seems to have taken it as a challenge to make a movie where tons of things happen with absolutely nothing to connect them. He succeeded. Without anything resembling a through-line between events, “Grown Ups 2” makes 2010′s “Grown Ups” look like “Inception.”
In the original movie, at least Larry Feder (Sandler) and his family moved from point A to point B, leaving their Los Angeles mansion to return home for his high school coach’s funeral, where he reunited with friends Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock), Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) and Marcus Higgins (David Spade). He had such a great time expelling gas with his buddies that he decided to move his family back there. In “Grown Ups 2,” they’re still there.
Sure, they shop at Kmart, go swimming, ride the school bus, ogle the local ballet teacher, expel more gas, vomit, make fun of bald people, make fun of fat people, make fun of frat people, make fun of gay people, make fun of nerdy people, make fun of heavily sedated people and make fun of ’80s people. But none of this happens for either a good or bad reason. There is no reason for “Grown Ups 2,” except that the original brought in $162 million against an $80 million budget.
A little more money went into this one, because “Grown Ups 2” begins with an appearance by one of the most realistic computer-generated animals this side of “Life of Pi,” but given the meticulously crafted CG animal’s presence, this is more like “Life of Pee.” This is a movie where money is used for toilet paper, but in a bizarre turn of events it only happens in the figurative sense.
As with all Sandler movies since he gave up trying to act, he stocks “Grown Ups 2” with extraordinary talent (Steve Buscemi, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Salma Hayek) and gives it nothing to do; casts questionable talent (Nick Swardson) and gives it too much to do; offers old “SNL” buddies like Tim Meadows, Cheri Oteri, Ellen Cleghorne, Melanie Hutsell and Jon Lovitz a little rare and unrewarding screen time; pads the background cast with relatives and fills in the rest with athletes, sportscasters and hot models.
There is also a cameo by the reunited J. Geils Band, but director Dennis Dugan cuts away from them so fast it’s nearly impossible to enjoy them, and Taylor Lautner actually stands out in his first intentionally funny performance.
“Grown Ups 2” has moments that will make audiences laugh, but only because they are sight gags and the laugh comes as a reflex, much like someone might flinch and run away if a woodland creature reared up on its hind legs and powerfully blasted them with urine. The whole movie is a lot like that.
— George Lang