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Under Review: Grown Ups

— by AMANDA KOEHLER —

Have you ever looked at photos or watched a home video of a friend who was so stoked about his or her recent vacation, and it looked like a good time, but you just “should have been there” to get the gist of the trip? That’s pretty much what the comedy “Grown Ups” is like in a nutshell.

“Grown Ups” reunites former “Saturday Night Live” castmates Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider. Kevin James also stars in the film about five childhood pals who meet again after their basketball coach dies.

Sandler plays Lenny, a Hollywood agent with a hot fashion designer wife (Salma Hayek) and three pampered kids. His pals include Eric (James), his “fat” friend who was recently laid off from his job and is trying to keep it a secret; Kurt (Rock), a stay-at-home dad frustrated with his wife (Maya Rudolph); Marcus (Spade), an irresponsible bachelor; and Rob (Schneider), a New Age-y dude with a much, much older wife.

Lenny rents the old lake house the group of friends used to hang out at when they were younger for the Fourth of July weekend, hoping to get his family excited about a weekend in the great outdoors. But Lenny’s sons and wife have trouble adjusting to his slightly odd friends and a weekend without video games, cell phones and Voss water.

What happens next? You guessed it… at some point, the whole clan loosens up and everybody has a grand old time. Cue the fun water park scenes and the basketball rematch!

The first half of the movie is slooow. And what makes it that way is simple: it’s not that funny. Like many Sandler movies, “Grown Ups” builds on a few jokes that are used throughout the movie. But the problem is, if the joke isn’t that funny the first time around, it’s definitely not going to be that great the third, fifth and eighth time around. Breastfeeding a four-year-old, Rob’s granny-wife, Kurt’s sassy, flatulent mother-in-law.. not side-splitting material here.

But in the second half of the movie, I forgave the lack of good jokes a little bit, because it just looked like the cast was having so much darn fun. It’s easy to see how much everyone liked each other and making this movie. You can get into the spirit of friendship and forget that you’re not cracking up… unless, that is, you paid $10 to laugh.

Still, if you’re trying to live vicariously through someone else’s fun vacation, call up your pal who is dying to show you his photo slideshow. If you’re looking for a good laugh, spend your hard-earned cash on a different movie and rent “Grown Ups” when it’s out on DVD. It’s the responsible, grown up thing to do!

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Follow Amanda Koehler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AEKoehler.

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