ven by the drastically low standards of the rest of his oeuvre, critical punching bag Adam Sandler's latest movie, Grown Ups 2, is a flop of almost unrivaled proportions, with an abysmal 7 percent positive reviews on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. (By contrast, the first Grown Ups scored a relatively rosy 10 percent.) Not even Rotten Tomatoes' consensus summary for Grown Ups 2 could contain its horror: "While it's certainly the movie event of the year for filmgoers passionate about deer piss humor, Grown Ups 2 will bore, annoy, and disgust audiences of nearly every other persuasion."
But despite reviews that serve as the critical equivalent of an "ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE" sign, some moviegoers may feel the need to wander into the hellscape that is a Grown Ups 2 screening for themselves. What, exactly, makes Grown Ups 2 such a dismal movie? Here, five critics attempt to explain:
In its own way, Grown Ups 2 sets the bar really high. After all, it's hard to imagine another comedy coming along this year that is this abrasive and free of laughs. It's like everyone involved intentionally tried to create a horrible movie... Sandler, who wrote the film with two pals, can't even be bothered to come up with anything resembling a plot. Oh, things happen here and there: The guys anger some frat boys; Lenny's wife wants a baby; and there is a big '80s-themed party so everyone can wear silly costumes and the J. Geils Band (seriously?) can perform. But basically, nothing of any consequence happens. [Arizona Republic]
2. It's got a staggering amount of gross-out body humor, says Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at The AV Club:
Grown Ups 2 opens with a CGI deer invading Adam Sandler's bedroom, standing up on its hind legs, and pissing in his face; it ends with Sandler simultaneously farting, sneezing, and burping while having sex with Salma Hayek. In between, the audience is treated to Nick Swardson shitting in a Kmart and making out with a dog, David Spade sensuously licking a female bodybuilder's bicep while wearing a John Oates costume, members of The Lonely Island rubbing their asses on the soapy windshield of Kevin James' car while wearing cheerleading uniforms, and Shaquille O'Neal filling a swimming pool with his urine. [The AV Club]
3. It takes a wildly unearned stab at emotional pathos, says John DeFore at The Hollywood Reporter:
Like the first film, this one is built upon the seriously misguided idea that five or 10 minutes of sentimental family-values talk can coexist with an hour and a half of burp-snarting and the like. Here, Lenny must contend with the news that his wife (Salma Hayek) wants to have a fourth child; Eric, inexplicably, must keep his wife (Maria Bello) in the dark about how much time he spends keeping his elderly mother company; Marcus must make peace with the thuggish son he never knew he sired; and Kurt ... well, Chris Rock gets to ad-lib one or two funny lines and spend the rest of the film waiting for something better to come along. [The Hollywood Reporter]
4. Its social politics are as ugly as the rest of the movie, says Nathan Rabin at The Dissolve:
Cheri Oteri plays Penny, a mentally ill wallflower convinced that Leonard is her soulmate because of a brief flirtation they shared in the sixth grade. In keeping with the film's bullying spirit, Grown Ups 2 feels the need to give the gorgeous, successful, and accomplished Roxanne a big climactic victory over Penny. That's Grown Ups 2 in miniature: It expects audiences to cheer as its glib, arrogant winners triumph over weird, ugly, creepy losers, seemingly oblivious or unconcerned that Sandler's smug master of the universe is relatable primarily to Sandler and his similarly successful pals. It's the rare ﬁlm bold enough to take a firm stand against the underdog. [The Dissolve]
5. Even fans of Sandler's shtick are likely to be disappointed, says Bilge Ebiri at Vulture:
Look, obviously, Grown Ups 2 wasn't made for critics. But I consider myself something of an Adam Sandler fan; I even liked last year's That's My Boy, the dud whose failure may well have helped lay the groundwork for this, the actor's first sequel. That much-derided film was a welcome throwback to the disreputable Sandler of yore, who was once at his best when he went broad, playing surreal jerks and man-children. For all his attempts to cultivate a softer, more Everyman-ish vibe (attempts that have been enormously lucrative, mind you), he seems adrift when he doesn't have a shtick. And he's more adrift than ever in Grown Ups 2, more a tour guide than a character, (sleep-)walking through the movie. Actually, all four leads are sleepwalking here, basically playing straight men to the dancing cops and creepy gym teachers and loser neighbors who populate this town. [Vulture]
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 ways to quickly become a master at anything
- The Warren Buffett formula: How you can get smarter
- How to flirt, according to science
- Here's how to really detect lies
Subscribe to the Week