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Friday, 20 September 2013

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Grown Ups 2

Directed by: Dennis Dugan

Produced by: Adam Sandler
Jack Giarraputo

Screenplay by: Adam Sandler
Tim Herlihy
Fred Wolf

Starring: Adam Sandler
Kevin James
Chris Rock
David Spade
Salma Hayek
Maria Bello
Maya Rudolph
Alexander Ludwig
Nick Swardson
Steve Austin
Taylor Lautner

Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Cinematography by: Theo van de Sande

Editing by: Tom Costain

Studio: Happy Madison

Distributed by: Colombia Pictures

Release date(s): July 12, 2013 (United States)
August 9, 2013 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 101 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $80 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $221, 017, 503

Much as I might like to rave in a self-promotional manner about how busy I've been, what movies to expect etc etc, but I think that everyone who's looking in at this one perhaps knows what to expect. Hey, I might surprise you and Grown Ups 2 might turn out to be a comedic masterpiece in the vein of Sons Of The Desert, City Lights, The Naked Gun, Withnail & I and Toy Story 3 (BLASPHEMER!). I ain't even gonna lie, I'm finding it hard to hold back on the sheer wattage that is just emerging from my pores, as though I'm gonna turn out like Tetsuo in Otomo's Akira. It's almost as if the medium of reviewing a movie with the power of the typed word is inadequate in fully expressing my feelings. I'm gonna give you a visual image here. There are some of you who will not have seen the movie, but there will be others who get what I'm talking about: Darryl Revok, Ending, Scanners. That's where I'm at!

So, even though I've eschewed my traditional format in the previous paragraph for a State Of My Mind By Way Of Grown Ups 2 Address, here I'm actually going to make some sort of attempt to give the film a bit of context and brief synopsis. Well, there's history here to say the least. Adam Sandler is a guy who had a string of entertaining comedies in the nineties, with films such as Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy. There have been other good works here and there, but since the beginning of the new millennium, it's hard to detect when exactly, but at some point Sandler went a bit off the rails. Then he made Funny People with Judd Apatow, which deconstructed his onscreen comedic persona and seemed to be his way of saying "I'm done with making shit movies," all of which only seemed to be a harbinger for where he is now, stuck in the worst rut in his career. Stuck is perhaps a bit generous, given that he has been a producer and writer on most of the projects he's been involved in since that film. He followed Funny People with the original Grown Ups film, which I dismissed at the time of it's release as a lazy bit of work which was essentially Sandler and co. going on holiday and calling each other different names for the craic of it, then released it as a movie. I thought this was the artistic nadir until I saw last year Jack And Jill, a film so bad that despite being the first film I saw that year, it managed to remain that way from start to finish, a more than deserving winner of Worst Film of 2012. In the midst of this, there's the anomaly of That's My Boy, a solid and outrageous return to R-rated comedy for Sandler, which, while not perfect by any means, is a movie that is genuinely daring in terms of pushing the boundaries of comedy. However, now we're back to the PG-13, 'family-friendly' territory of Grown Ups 2, although what families these movies are deemed friendly to is another matter altogether. Directed by Dennis Dugan, regular Sandler collaborator, including the nineties heyday, the previous Grown Ups film and Jack And Jill, for which he was made one of my Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse last year, Grown Ups 2 sees Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade (no Rob Schneider, best thing in last movie :( ) reprise their roles with their respective wives in tow, as over the course of a single day, a bunch of stuff happens before Sandler and wife Salma Hayek throw a party at their house. If I sound lazy, it's not that I'm actively being so, it's just that I defy anyone to tell me in a detailed, constructed manner what the hell the plot actually is.

As I bang this one out, I'm listening the Guiseppe Verdi's Requiem, and the Dies Irae is about to start up, a harbinger perhaps for the unleashing of the proverbial beast. Before I get there I have to note that there is one thing that made me laugh, as it did with the first one, Chris Rock's relationship with his mother-in-law. Described in the first film as "Idi Amin with a propeller on her head," there are two strong but all too brief gags at the expense of this woman. The first, involving Rock waiting on her going to the toilet so she can't answer the door to get her cable, is silly but funny, and the second, the mother-in-law sitting watching television static in the middle of a montage is outrageous in its absurdity. Apart from these moments, there's nothing to merit. 

"And here we go." - Joker, The Dark Knight

And the Dies Irae is off! Only something of this magnitude could give me the energy of cultural and temporal reflexivity necessary to drive the gears forward in tacking a turgid mess of such magnitude, because Grown Ups 2 is just that. As mentioned, I defy anyone to tell me what exactly the plot of this film is. The only structure of the film is that it seems to be split into two parts. The first part (and the film) opens with a deer pissing all over Sandler's house and his family (here comes the Tuba Mirum), and that pretty much sets the template for everything that's to come. Virtually every gag is jacked up to the maximum level of ridiculousness, and while I'm all and one for comedy, the fact of the matter is that they don't even bother playing up to this and are in fact deadly serious about being funny, if you catch my drift. In this first segment, it comes across as a badly patched together series of sketches, none of which are funny, begging once again the question "With all this talent, why hasn't anyone caught onto the fact that this shit ain't funny?" Oh yeah, answer: Because they're making wackloads of cash! Gordon Gecko might have said "Greed is good," but I don't think Michael Douglas will ever see Grown Ups 2. The second part is an eighties-themed party (woops, spoiler, huh, huh, huh), and it's one of those parties where despite the fact I was born in the nineties, I'm culturally astute enough to get that one's dressed as Prince, the other Meat Loaf, Sandler Springsteen etc., yet they still feel the need to say "Hey, nice Terminator outfit," and as such comments like that only conjure the inimitable Bill Hicks in my head going "Shut the fuck up." But it doesn't STFU, it just goes on and on and on and on and on, and not like Don't Stop Believin', but goes on like a perpetual Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family (bonus points if you get that without Wikipedia), all wielding mallets smashing my head for the entirety of the film's running time. Well, that would be generous, because I reckon that some of the feelings I got from this film are akin to post-traumatic stress and shell-shock. I love the period of culture they are referencing, but no amount of Frankie, New Order and (I think I saw someone in a) Devo (costume) are going to save this monstrosity. Neither are the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, Steve Buscemi, Andy Samberg, Jon Lovitz (a highly underrated comedic talent), Shaq, Taylor Lautner, all of whom are thrown in to play off their respective personae, but don't seem to have any appropriate place in the scheme of things. Speaking of playing off ones persona, the same could be said for the primaries, if they were written or acted as though their characters actually had any semblance of a personality. Sandler knows fine rightly that he's being lazy and seems content to rub it in everyone's face, while James is obviously more than happy playing a part of someone who burps, sneezes and farts consecutively (don't know, don't remember, don't care), but Rock and Spade seem bored to tears. It's a sad state of affairs when Rob Schneider can't appear in the film due to 'scheduling conflicts,' and it'll be one of those cases where when they are all old and retired that they admit "you know what, this really sucked." The budget of the film was $80 million, an absurd figure probably about fifty times or more larger than the budget of Rita, Sue And Bob Too, the raucous Alan Clarke comedy from 1987 ("Thatcher's Britain With Her Knickers Down"), which is uproariously funny and something like this monstrosity can't hold a candle. It is phantasmagoric just how bad this film is, and take into account that this comes from the same bad breed as Grown Ups and Jack And Jill, yet makes them seem sooooooooooooo much better! Phantasmagoric is perhaps the wrong word, because it implies something on genuine fascination, whereas it would be far more interesting spending one hundred minutes rolling around naked in a landfill. Much as I'd like to discuss each aspect constructively in thorough detail (Rupert Gregson-Williams' terrible scores strike again!), I'm losing the genuine power for words on this one, so I'll just leave you with another image: Tissue paper, clean, soggy garbage water: that image + first para Revok + Verdi's Requiem = Grown Ups 2 review.

These things being said, I perhaps have only touched upon the precipice of just how bad this movie is. I'm sure there are critics out there who have written far more eloquent and wonderful pieces on just how rubbish this is. I've had to go back through my archive to decide just how bad this is. I've walked into numerous Worst Films, such as Deja Vu, Prom Night, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Vampires Suck, Barbarossa: Siege Lord and last year's Jack & Jill. Each of those film's are monumentally bad, but I think we may find a new low in Grown Ups 2, which is quite possibly (benefit of the doubt my arse!) the worst movie I have seen in my time of reviewing. I think there will be worse, as it's not completely faultless, but it is among the worst movies I have ever seen. I saw this with my mother and sister, the former leaving about thirty minutes in ("I can't stick this anymore!") and the latter continually mentioning how bad it was. There many things to be said about this, but I'll leave it here. At present I'm reading Irvine Welsh's Maribou Stork Nightmares, a novel that involves three layers of consciousness, as the comatose protagonist attempts to escape from the real world into fantasy. If Grown Ups 2 is a part of the real world, than I, like Roy Strang, will be happy to retreat into delirium. 

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 0.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Grizzled and migrainous (thinking too much about this movie has hurt my head. All communication I've had today with humans sounds like something from Retarded Animal Babies)

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P.S. Blogger's screwed this up, but you get the above sentiment!

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