Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Grown Ups

Okay, so I didn't exactly keep to my schedule. Yeah, I saw Marmaduke on Monday, but I missed Scott Pilgrim on Tuesday and on Wednesday ended up seeing this film instead of The Expendables. Still, they are on my to-see list, but I also have definite reviews coming up for 44-Inch Chest, Four Lions and Valhalla Rising. Anyway, this film which I went to see is Grown Ups, a new comedy with an ensemble cast of comedy veterans Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade and Rob Schneider. The five play a group of school friends who as youths won a Basketball Championship under their coach. Thirty-two years, they re-unite at the coach’s funeral and decide to rent out the old lake house (which has significance for reasons I can't remember, nor does my reliable Wikipedia source seem to help) and of course, a whole variety of humorous shenanigans ensues. It all sounds pretty textbook to anyone who applies a degree of common sense, and to be fair it AHEM! AHEM! All the revelations will come in due course. I have a procedure and structure to follow here, and I am seeing it through till its end. To give the movie its due on the good points, it is a charming and completely inoffensive film. The cast to be fair are pretty well-balanced. Each of them has their own moments in which they can flex their comedy muscles and no one is attempting to steal the show from the other here. Chris Rock as ever in these movies seems to get saddled with the best lines, but then again maybe it is just his delivery, because Chris Rock could make pretty much anything seem like comedy gold. The best role in the film is actually, perhaps surprisingly, the role of Rob Schneider as Rob Hilliard. To be fair, I have found that Rob Schneider has always been saddled in roles which are rubbish, and as a result I have found him to be an annoying onscreen presence. However, I have a newfound respect for Schneider after this role, played a thrice-divorced vegetarian guru-type who is married to a woman 30 years older than him. This was a genuinely funny comic role. Also, the script, while not by any means a stretch is alright. There are some funny lines and set pieces. On the recent relevance of the topic of annoying, not-funny funny talking dog movies, there are a number of funny gags involving a dog that has had its vocal cords clipped so that it sounds like a turkey (something that should have happened to Marmaduke long ago). In conclusion, Grown Ups is an enjoyable enough comedy for all the family... except this is not the conclusion and this is not an overly enjoyable comedy for all the family. The great and outstanding problem with this film is not that it is a bad film, because it certainly isn't, but that it is a representation of the kind of indifferent and lazy assembly-line film-making which is plaguing Hollywood and particularly comedy of late. It has become a trend of many of these American comedians to come together in a film in which they are together, with a whole "let's get the gang together for a laugh" kind of attitude and make a movie while we are at it. These men clearly from their past catalogue of work are more talented than this, and for me it just seems as though they have all went on holiday with a camera crew, made up new names for each other and the kids so they can claim it is a new film. As I said, the script isn't bad, but by no means does it seem like an effort is being made in any way. Like I said, assembly-line film-making 101. Credit where it is due, the funeral stuff at the film is pretty funny. Maybe there was a film in there somewhere, because the funeral gags would indicate that it would have been far funnier if it had centered on the funeral. Chris Rock's declaration of his mother-in-law as "Idi Amin with a propeller on her head" is great, and Rob Schneider’s Ave Maria is just wonderful. But really, the rest of the film is saturated in complete nonsense. I wonder if the script was written with a calculator in hand to count the number of minimum necessary gags. Adam Sandler really should have tried better both as the scribe and lead actor, because he actually comes across as boring in this film. Director Dennis Dugan directs very flatly and completely down the line here without any attempt to make a semblance of a good movie. It must be said before I finish the review that you have to wonder if they felt restricted by the 12A/PG-13 rating. A number of the comedians involved in this film obviously work better in the more 15+/R territory, Rock in particular. Not that a movie has to be vulgar to be funny, I mean, look at Toy Story 3, but it certainly limits what you can do. I believe that they have sacrificed this freedom to write better gags for the box office, and the film does really read like something that a marketing executive would draw up for a film. I am lost for words now regarding this film, because like a number of films this year, it is inoffensive yet completely uninspired film-making, which seems to have just been churned out on a factory assembly line or on the actors' holidays. These guys really need to do more stuff like Funny People, because it really caters more to their talents, and not this boring and lazy film which is bound to fill their kitties for a few years. It must also be said that while I laughed a good number of times at this film, it must be judged on this basis of being an assembly-line film, which it so clearly is, making it a completely superfluous and forgettable release.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 3.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Bored

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