Adam Sandler fans would do well to re-watch “The Wedding Singer” or “Happy Gilmore” rather than suffer through this excruciating mess of gross-out humor, eww-inspiring vulgarity, and soppy sentimentality. My mother always likes me to say something nice, so I’ll mention that Salma Hayek Pinault looks beautiful and the setting is lovely. Chris Rock gets off a few good lines. Adam Sandler doesn’t use his doofy “funny” voice. And eventually, it is all over. But that’s about it. Sandler has always been lazy and his films have devolved from slacker to inert. The increased efforts at injecting “heart” into the storyline just makes the rest of the movie look even more cynical, crass, and condescending to its audience. And that’s not including the misogyny and overall sour attitude toward just about everyone.
Here, he plays Lenny Feder, a successful Hollywood agent married to Roxanne (Hayek Pinault), a clothing designer. He returns to his home town for the funeral of the coach who guided his grade school basketball team to a championship. At the funeral, he catches up with his teammates, and they go off together with their families for a few days at a home on the lake. Of course each of them has a situation that is intended to be funny (not) and poignant (really not). Co-stars David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and Kevin James all look embarrassed to be there, the only flicker of authenticity on screen. Spade, looking hung over even when his character is not, plays the good time guy who never settled down. James is a family man whose biggest problem seems to be that his wife (a slumming Maria Bello) is still breast-feeding their four-year-old. Rock is a stay-at-home father whose pregnant wife (a slumming Maya Rudolph) and mother-in-law think his being a full-time dad is not manly. And Schneider, as always in Sandler films, plays a guy who the designated ewwwww-inducer, with personal and sexual habits designed to gross everyone out. He plays a man whose third wife is an aging hippie (Joyce Van Patten) and whose three daughters show up halfway through, two smokin’ and one funny-looking with a semi-Snooki puff, just like dear old dad. He also has the thankless responsibility of undertaking one of Sandler’s favorite gags — an impaled foot. And a disgusting bunion in loving close-up. What is it with him and feet! At least Tarantino’s foot obsession is on the beautiful toes of Uma Thurman and Diane Kruger.
Lenny, compared to his struggling friends, has little to worry him other than concerns that his children are getting spoiled (they text the nanny to bring them hot cocoa and then reject it when it isn’t Godiva) and being too embarrassed to tell his friends that his kids have a nanny, so he keeps insisting she is just an exchange student and thrusting books at her.
Sandler may have stopped playing boy-men who won’t grow up (hence the title), but as producer and co-screenwriter he is still a film-maker who won’t grow up. The comedy in the movie centers around pubescent sniggering stuck at about the level of a game of “Doctor.” Both adults and young teens are reduced to quivering, slobbering, hysteria by the presence of an attractive member of the opposite sex (conveniently giving us a chance to ogle them, too). But the only one who seems to have a committed relationship that includes a sex life is the one who grosses everyone out with his PDA because his wife is three decades older than he is.
The phony sentiment is no better than the phony comedy. Yeah, yeah, the importance of family and friends and board games over video games. And we are further afflicted with a rematch between our intrepid one-time champions and the guys they beat. Thirty-two years ago. About the last time any of these jokes were fresh.
Then there is the insult humor. Admittedly, there are some funny lines, but further evidence of the movie’s sloppiness is its lack of interest in making some distinction between the affectionate insults that bond people and the hurtful ones that spark anger and truth-telling. Further laughs are expected for the aforementioned impaled foot, injuries requiring a full body cast, and various falls and crotch hits, plus an older lady with an ugly bunion and intestinal distress she blames on the dog. If only we could do the same with the movie.
Parents should know that this film has constant very vulgar humor including crude sexual references and comic situations, characters including children ogle attractive people, a child molestation joke, and some strong language, skimpy clothing and comic partially naked male and female tushes. A mother breast feeds a four-year-old, and the movie has potty humor, jokes about substance abuse, characters who get drunk, graphic violence in computer game, comic violence including crotch hits, an impaled foot, multiple fractures, asad off-screen death, and misogynistic and homophobic humor.
Family discussion: What kept these characters close to each other? What was the difference between the insults they enjoyed and the ones that hurt? Did someone help you the way the coach helped them?
If you like this, try: “The Wedding Singer” and “Happy Gilmore”