Viewers who enjoy any single gag in the new Adam Sandler vehicle Grown Ups are in for a treat, as they’ll be able to experience it again five or 10 more times. Beyond all the repetition, Grown Ups delivers an unmistakably Sandlerian soufflé of slapstick and sentiment, alternating cheap jokes and heart-tugging scenes like an early groaner where Sandler’s adorable prepubescent daughter tells dad that she wants to use his car’s navigational system to find heaven.
After venturing outside his comfort zone in Funny People, Sandler retreats into the realm of the soothingly familiar, playing a hotshot Hollywood agent who reunites with boyhood pals Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider for the funeral of their beloved elementary-school basketball coach. The good times start early for the overgrown adolescents as they chuckle and joke their way through the funeral, then keep going when the party moves to a lake house where they spend a weekend reliving cherished memories and working through their very minor issues.
The prospect of five seasoned comedy professionals and old friends riffing through a relaxed, ramshackle comedy with only the faintest hint of a plot radiates promise, but the reality proves painful. The one-note performances and endlessly recycled gags—which run the gamut from jokes about Schneider’s sex-crazed geriatric wife to pop-culture-themed wisecracks about Rock’s mother-in-law’s grotesque toes—betray the toxic arrogance of coasting comic superstars who realize they can exert the least possible effort and still come away with a hit. Sandler’s self-indulgence knows no bounds: The film even concludes with him goofing his way through a song about his father. If Grown Ups were any lazier or more slapdash, it’d be a home movie.