There's an old lady who farts a lot in the new Adam Sandler flick, Grown Ups. She farts a lot.
And she doesn't just stand there and let it rip like most old-lady caricatures in movies. For starters, she performs the old "fart and blame the dog" trick, which is always a knee-slapper. She also comes up with a stunt I've never seen before: She farts into a cup phone—two cups connected by a string—so that somebody can hear her fart while in another room. She blazes new trails in ass-blast comedy.
That's the best thing I can say about Grown Ups. Beyond that, it's just 102 minutes of one of my favorite slob-comedy stars, and many of his less-talented friends, slumming in another wasteful effort from Sandler go-to guy Dennis Dugan.
Sandler plays a Hollywood agent who gets together with his childhood basketball team at the funeral for their beloved coach. Kevin James, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Chris Rock play the buddies, and they all represent Screenwriting 101 stereotypes. David Spade is the sex-fiend girl magnet. (Yeah, right!) Rob Schneider is the new-age type with a wife 30 years older than him. Kevin James is the big guy with a wimpy core, and Rock is the homebody husband who can't cook.
After the funeral, they all wind up staying at a lake house where they skip rocks, eat dehydrated bananas cooked by Schneider, land face-first in piles of dog shit and, yes, listen to Grandma fart repeatedly.
In essence, Sandler is letting his comedy pals ride his coattails and enjoy some box-office success that might get them some better pitch meetings. James had himself a modest hit with Paul Blart: Mall Cop, as did Rock with Death at a Funeral, but they didn't exactly set the world on fire. Spade hasn't had any film success since Black Sheep—with Chris Farley, 14 years ago. And Schneider is just a parasite on Sandler's butt.
Can't you just hear Sandler's phone call to Spade pitching Grown Ups? "Hey Spade, it's Sandler. Where have you been, you crazy asshole? That commercial you did with Farley really sucked. It creeped me out. Come on, the guy's dead; you shouldn't be raiding the tomb. Yeah, homage my ass; you just wanted to get the big money from DirecTV. Listen, enough about you; I need a hit. Let's go hang out at the lake with James and Rock. Yeah, yeah, Schneider can come, too. What? No, we don't have a script. We'll just wing it. Yeah, we got paddleboats. Listen, I'll bring the guitar and play you the thousandth version of 'The Hanukkah Song' between takes. Oh, bad news: You have to show your ass in this one. Hahahaha!"
Yes ... this film features David Spade's naked ass.
The plot is nothing but a setup for Sandler and his cronies to get together and riff. They sit around acting like wiseasses, amusing themselves with their supposed comic splendor—although nary an audience laugh is produced.
Just to show that bad Dugan comedies aren't exclusively male, a cast of impressive women is thrown into the mix. The exquisite Maria Bello plays James' wife; her breast milk gets all over Maya Rudolph, who plays Rock's wife. Salma Hayek, playing Sandler's wife, emerges from the ladies' room with a toilet-seat protector stuck to the ass of her dress ... surely a crowning moment in her illustrious career. And Joyce Van Patten gets to repeatedly tongue-kiss Rob Schneider.
Sandler's last film was the impressive Funny People, directed by Judd Apatow. That movie actually lampooned Sandler's slob-comedy persona while giving him a chance to dabble in drama. It was one of the best films Sandler has ever been a part of—and nobody farted into a cup. So much for Sandler trying to expand his horizons.
Enter Dugan, who directed one of my favorite Sandler slob comedies, Happy Gilmore. Since then, he's directed four more, including this one, and they have gotten progressively worse: Big Daddy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and You Don't Mess With the Zohan were all gutterballs, but each of them was a bona fide box-office hit.
A look at Sandler's future slate shows that, besides voicing a monkey in something called The Zookeeper, he's entirely devoted to cash-cow Dugan films. Something called Just Go With It co-starring Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman (What?!) is in post-production. That may be followed by something called Jack and Jill, in which Sandler would play both of those roles.
I admit that sounds intriguing in a backward sort of way. Perhaps Sandler Jack and Sandler Jill will communicate with cups connected by a string, and Sandler will advance fart comedy by sending gaseous calls to himself. He's a real fart pioneer at this point in his career.