Don’t get me wrong. I love humor when it’s a bit mean. A lot mean. I love satire, sarcasm, a limited dose of cynicism, and stereotypes to a certain extent. I’m not sore, I’m not easily offended, and I think everyone should be able to take the piss every now and then. I’m short, and back in high school my friends told me they’d come up with a new sport for which I could be used as an asset: dwarf throwing. They never actually did it, of course, but just to say: I wasn’t sore about it. (I’m not that short, by the way, nor that light-weighted.)
Grown Up 2, however, I found hugely offensive. (My plan was to describe the movie in its entirety but… I didn’t make it. So here’s a long description of the first part and all that’s wrong with it. Spoilers are coming.) Firstly it was offensive to its viewers; to assume it could entertain them with such easy, sloppy humor. Secondly it was offensive to Chris Rock, David Spade, and Kevin James. All great actors who did not deserve to have such a monstrosity of a movie besmirch their acting history or resume. The same goes for Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, and Shaquille O’Neal. I’d say the same about Steve Buscemi had he not gotten a role in which he could demonstrate his brilliant diversity, though the pleasure of watching him was to his merit only, and had nothing to do with how his character was written. It was offensive to women as a sub-group, as almost all of them were portrayed as lust objects with IQs of Forrest Gump level, and likewise it was offensive to men because almost all of them were portrayed as strapping teenagers with raging hormones (yet there definitely was more diversity between men’s characters in general than between women’s). Just about the only person it wasn’t offensive to was Adam Sandler, because he co-wrote it and let’s be honest: he’s a douche anyway.
The movie is a sequel to Grown Ups, where the four high school friends Lenny (Adam Sandler), Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), and Marcus (David Spade) have a reunion long after they’ve grown into adulthood. That movie was mediocre at best, but that’s a review for another time. In Grown Ups 2, Lenny and his family have moved back to Lenny’s hometown, where his friends live as well. Lenny’s back to hanging out with his friends and, in an attempt to relive their youth, they decide to throw a big party. In the meantime, stuff happens.
Immediately, the movie takes off with a joke that’s supposed to be “so mean it’s funny”, but instead is a cheap shot milking the cliche that mothers-in-law are a pain (especially when they’re from the woman’s side).
It’s morning, and Lenny and his wife, Roxanna (Salma Hayek), are in bed when Lenny wakes up to find a deer in his bedroom. He tells Roxanne to open the window, but Roxanne is still sleeping and turns over on her side. Then, to convince her to get up and open the window, Lenny tells her:
“I think your mother is here from Mexico, and she needs to leave. Open the window, now.”
There is so much wrong with this joke, I don’t know where to begin. Making fun of your mother-in-law can be funny but you have to do it right. Firstly, this joke is way too obvious. Ha-ha, calling your mother-in-law a deer. Better and funnier insults have been thought of and made. (A deer is a pretty cool animal, by the way.) Secondly, Lenny makes that joke to not set his wife off into a panic and make her open the window in her slumber. But to imply that Roxanne would agree – even in slumber – to let her mother leave upon arrival from Mexico, and subsequently let her leave through the window, is very rude and disrespectful. It either means that Roxanne hates her mother as much as her husband does (in which case her mother wouldn’t have come over, I reckon), or that they have a relationship in which Lenny can just vent his apparent hatred for her mother, and be rude to her mother, with her accepting it (in which case Lenny is an oppressive macho and it’s a pretty fucked up relationship). Worse, though, the joke is in the movie, which means Adam Sandler thought the viewers would appreciate it. But since this joke comes completely without any prior events, meaning the viewer hasn’t been able to get acquainted with the possibly rotten character of Roxanne’s mother, it means the only people who could find it funny are men who already hate their mothers-in-law. And since this movie was meant for a wide audience, it means that Adam Sandler assumed so many thousands or maybe even millions of men hate their mothers-in-law. To think a joke is automatically funny simply because it’s the mother-in-law who takes the piss is pretty misogynistic. It may even be offensive to men who fall into Sandler’s demographic.
To make matters worse, Roxanne then justifies the joke by waking up, discovering the deer, and panicking. She starts screaming hysterically, causing the deer to rear up and pee all over Lenny’s face. The reason this isn’t funny is because it’s just as misogynistic as the first joke. Even though Roxanne may feel threatened, she’s facing a calm deer and not a wild stampede. There’s no reason for her to not keep it together. Yet she’s the weaker sex, of course, so she screams and screams like Freddy Krueger himself is coming for her, thereby duping her husband who ends up getting peed in the face. Of course, had Roxanne thought it was her mother and opened the window in her slumber, none of this would have happened. So here’s the woman taking the blame for the rude joke and Lenny’s misfortune. Aw, women and their crazy. Misogyny at its finest.
What follows next is an absolutely ridiculous scene in which the deer flees through the hallway, bursts into the bathroom where Greg, the oldest son of Roxanne and Lenny, is taking a shower. Greg sees the animal and starts screaming as loud as his mother, causing the deer to rear up again and pee all over him as well. He just stands there with his eyes closed, struggling to hold off the stream, for way too long. How about closing the shower curtain and washing off the urine (the shower is still running)? Instead, Roxanne runs up from her bathroom, sees her own son naked, and starts screaming and pointing at his penis. It’s hard to believe. What mother in her right mind would be so utterly shocked by the sight of her son’s penis that she’d start screaming hysterically? In fact, what adult woman (mother or not) would panic at the sight of a teen boy’s penis? It’s just stupid.
Finally, they succeed in getting the deer out of the house. For this, Lenny sacrificed the cuddly toy of his daughter, Becky, and once outside the deer tears it apart with the ease and vigor of a hungry lynx. In the deer’s antlers hangs one of Roxanne’s bras, left from the strange effort (throwing laundry) of getting it out of the house. The mailman, who’s showed up in the meantime, sees the bra and, impressed, asks Roxanne if it’s hers. He tries to high-five Lenny. Roxanne gets offended (rightly so) and covers her boobs with her arms. She looks away, and behind her back Lenny completely ignores his wife’s discomfort and proudly high-fives the mailman. Then, when he sees her angry look, asks: “What?” Not only does he make a horrible example to his children, who are right there and whom he must have made to feel just as uncomfortable, he also didn’t defend his wife and treated her as a piece of ass to flaunt.
So, that’s just the opening scene. Next, we get to see Eric, Kurt, and Marcus with their families amidst equally stupid jokes. Eric’s wife, Sally (Maria Bello), is trying to teach their son Bean math, but her son miserably fails at it and she does nothing to help him because she “doesn’t want to ruin his confidence”. Of course, Eric makes a bunch of mean, suggestive jokes about Bean, and later about his daughter Donna, who’s pimped her boots in a way no teenage girl would even think about doing. Kurt is the only one who seems to enjoy his family, giving his wife, Deanne (Maya Rudolph), a necklace for their 20th anniversay. Deanne forgot however, and their big-mouthed children obviously enjoy the painful situation, making it more painful by openly making fun of them with comments the audience would or should have made, had the movie given them any reason to feel such sentiment. Last but not least, Marcus (David Spade) picks the-son-he-never-knew-he-had up from the train station. The son, Braden, appears to have a boiling aggression inside of him, and there’s nothing about it that makes it even remotely funny.
A bunch of bad jokes later we get acquainted with the school bus driver. He and his crazy are supposed to add some juice to the mix, but all that his character is is over the top. His hair is weird, he has a goofy look on his face, he confesses his wife left him after three weeks, and then explains that she left him for eating a banana with his butt in his mother-in-law’s house. Of course that’s crazy, but it’s also nearly impossible, unless he means anal sex and even then it’s unimaginative bullshit. Next, he says that a doctor has given him some pills to make him feel better, then immediately bursts out two lines in different voices as to show he’s suffering from schizophrenia (and the pills aren’t helping). Then smiles as if nothing has happened. It’s laying it on way too thick. Besides, who would let such a person drive a school bus, anyway?
For some reason, Lenny decides to fill in for Nick, the bus driver, and we see him picking Kurt’s children up. When Kurt asks where the bus driver is, Lenny says he’s “filling in for…” and proceeds to mimic what he thinks is a crazy person. Either Adam Sandler has no morals or he threw it all out the window for this one. There’s nothing funny about being nice to someone in his face and then insulting him behind his back. We all do it, of course, but that’s among ourselves and that’s fine. Not that I feel for the bus driver because he’s just too surreal to relate to, but here Adam Sandler assumes the viewers are on his side (ergo: find it funny) just because the bus driver is a loon. It’s just another cheap shot, degrading another character to make himself look better, and specifically because the character is so easy to make fun of. It would be true art to make a movie in which the viewer gets to feel sympathy for the character. Adam Sandler must have real confidence issues.
Meanwhile, Kurt is making Deanne feel guiltier and guiltier about forgetting their 20th anniversary, because it makes for “the biggest get-out-of-jail-free” card. Apparently it’s cool to think your family is a burden, because in the meanwhile Lenny has also protested going to his daughter’s ballet recital at school (“oh, do I gotta go to that?”). Such warm, involved fathers. Are the viewers really supposed to be relating to these dicks? Anyway, Kurt takes a ride to work on the school bus and starts complaining about the oppressive regime of his wife. He tells Lenny:
“I’m gonna abuse this get-out-of-jail-free card, I’m telling you right now. I mean, maybe I’ll walk on the good rug without taking off my boots. Or have a nice non-diet soda with my dinner.”
Oh, women! Always harrassing men with their insistence on keeping the house clean and their family healthy.
They really pulled out all the cliches they could think of.
So, to make use of his get-out-of-jail-free card, Kurt suggests they throw a First Night of Summer party at Lenny’s house. Because, you know, with the oppressive regime he’s just not allowed to go to any parties ever. Of course, Lenny protests. The last party he had was senior year in high school (what?), and they can’t have parties anymore because they have wives and kids and stuff and they’re all such obstacles for fun things! Nevertheless, he agrees to “ask his wife”. Immediately thereafter, a fat kid starts bullying Donna and Keithie (Lenny’s middle child) and Lenny stands up for them through the intercom. Of course the kid had to be fat because if people aren’t obviously fat, ugly, or crazy, how else is the viewer to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys? Adam Sandler just jumps on the opportunity to make himself look good by making fun of the boy’s weight, calling him a “bean bag with arms and legs”. Ha-ha, so funny. It’s not offensive because it’s sad for the kid. It’s not even offensive because it might hurt fat people’s feelings. It’s offensive because it’s easy and cheap. Moreover, it’s pretty fucking disgusting to get this from a father in a bus full of children. Not the appropriate audience for acting cool (and rude). Lenny Feder must be the most incompetent father to ever have hit the big screen. Or at least he’s made it to the Top 5.
Time to meet the next loon, Penny (Cheri Oteri).
Penny had a thing for Lenny back in the 8th grade and is obviously suffering from Overly Attached Girlfriend Disorder, although she never actually was Lenny’s girfriend. She works in Roxanne’s boutique and for some reason she chose this moment to let Roxanne know that there still is something between them. Of course this is only true in her mind. To accentuate her looniness, she shows Roxanne a note in which she asks Lenny if he liked her hair better in a barrette or a headband. Lenny answered “barrette”. Not only did Penny keep the meaningless note but she also still wears the barrette. Yes, this is insane but is it funny? Don’t answer that, it was a rhetoric question. It’s more cheap comedy. Additionally, by now it seems that the main characters live in a world where everyone is crazy except them. That would have made for quite a story, or it might have anyway, but here the only purpose it serves is so the “normal people” can ridicule them.
In any case, Roxanne just looks at Penny funny and leaves the shop.
The next loon we meet is the principle of high school, with obviously no respect from his students. His students wrote “loser” on the side of his car with spray paint, and he just stands there, amazed and delighted at the fact that they wrote it right. He also has a big belly and is wearing a far too short shirt, which makes him crazy, of course, and therefore it’s funny that the students vandalized his car and filled it with blue paint. Such a good joke!
Everybody laughs. Even the concierge. And when he walks up to Lenny and Kurt and cheerfully comments something along the lines of “can you believe this”, Lenny sides with the students and insults him, saying:
“Maybe they’re just mad because you keep going on to babyGap to buy your clothes.”
Oh, the hilarity. Stahp. Please. No, really. Please. Stop.
However, the movie has only just begun. Another insult gets flung at the principal. Nick the bus driver gets to be a target one more time when Lenny pulls the string with which he’s tied him behind the wheel, thereby also lifting his arm as if he’s waving. Again and again, and again and again, as if Nick is a puppet, with someone laughing very loud in the background. Next, we see Lenny and Kurt driving the bus while Nick is hanging upside down behind them.
How that’s funny is beyond me. It could be funny, but within this context it’s just two men tying another man upside down for their own amusement, just because he’s weird. That’s not humor, that’s dickery. That’s trying to be cool. (I can’t help but feel like Chris Rock kind of distanced himself from this and went into this thinking: “I’m just going say my lines and do what I’ve got to do”. He is way too intelligent to consider this a decent movie.) I swear, Adam has issues.
So, they pick up Eric at his mother’s, talk a bit about how his close relationship with his mother is going to ruin his marriage. Sadly, of course it’s the fat guy taking the piss again, fulfilling the cliche of mother’s baby who got spoiled too much. He walks up to the bus and the first thing he tells Kurt and Lenny is:
“Don’t tell the wife.”
Why would they? Anyway, so far Kurt and Lenny – albeit dickheads – are the only two normal men in the movie. Eric is one of the guys, however, and proves to be as much of a dickhead. He gets into the bus and unties Nick with one swift move, causing Nick to fall on his head and slide – as the bus starts to move – into the back and bump his head against the back door. The men laugh, Lenny and Eric shake hands.
Then follows what I think is the most infuriating scene of the movie. Roxanne, Deanne, and Sally go to yoga class. They talk a bit about their husbands, of course, because women don’t have lives beyond their male partners. Deanne brought her youngest, who is on a leash and completely out of control. He growls and pulls and bites into a plastic ball, which pops immediately. Ha-ha, so crazy. I see no reason why any woman would bring a child to yoga class, especially if the child is so wild it needs to be on a leash, and misbehaving children for their own sake aren’t funny at all. It gets worse, of course. The concierge comes in and says the yoga instructor told him to fill in for a bit. He instructs the women to jump up and down so he can glare at their boobs, then tells them to turn around, bend over, and slap their butts. One woman is wise enough to ask why they should turn around, but otherwise they all follow his instructions completely. There isn’t one woman who objects or notices that their “exercises” have nothing to do with yoga. It’s gravely insulting. The sexual objectification is tremendous, and women are portrayed as dumb creatures who believe everything they’re told.
An honorable mention in this misogynistic whirlwirld should be made of “Beefcake Kitty”, a female professional bodybuilder. She complains about having Deanne’s youngest in there (rightly so), saying “the leash better not trip me up”. Upon which Deanne answers it’s not the leash but her “big ass hairy man feet” that are gonna trip her up. That was unnecessary because Beefcake Kitty voiced a legit concern and she didn’t get personal either. A fight almost ensues, but Roxanne apologizes for Deanne, calling Beefcake Kitty “sir”. The conversation ends here so it’s Beefcake Kitty who takes the piss. Apparently, if you’re a woman and (very) muscled, you’re not really a woman at all. (And the women in this movie are dicks as well.)
The yoga instructor comes in and the concierge gives himself away, causing the women to boo at him and Deanne’s youngest son to bite his leg. I’m not even going to explain why this isn’t funny. Of course the women – nothing but sexual creatures – all swoon over their yoga instructor and verbally harrass him.
Pff. I’m not even halfway and I’m already tired of this movie.
The next person to make fun of is Malcolm, because he only has half a head of hair.
Then comes the cross-eyed weapons salesman.
And the “gay” sports teacher.
I’m not even gonna.
The four friends walk out of K Mart after having done some shopping for the big party, and walk into an old acquaintance, Officer Fluzoo (Shaquille O’Neal). The ballet recital comes up. The guys say they’re late, but he urges them to go. His colleague, Officer Dante (Peter Dante) offers to give them an escort, with sirens and everything. So, they go and it becomes clear why Fluzoo insisted. The ballet instructor is a beautiful woman who sensually dances along with her students. Odd and inappropriate as it is, the men all stand there drooling over this woman, because in this movie women are only interesting if they’re fuckable. (Everyone forgets Becky, of course, except for Lenny and Roxanne.)
Officer Dante remarks he wants to arrest her for disturbing the peace… in his pants. Rolling my eyes. I’m going to turn up the pace a little bit because this movie is boring me to shits. Some bad poop jokes follow…
the principal eating fruit loops from his bellybutton and getting covered in blue paint… again…
…and more objectified women.
This last still is from a scene where the oldests of Kurt and Lenny accidentally walk into a college party and get discovered before they get the chance to leave. The girl who discovers them hands them a beer and hugs them, and they immediately change their minds about going. However, they are “not ready” to drink beer, so they decide to ditch the beer, pretend they’re drunk, and party with the college students so they can hang out with the girls.
All of this was just the first 40 minutes or so of the movie, and I think my IQ just dropped 10 points. I’m going to end it here before I end up with the intellect level of Kim Kardashian. To wrap it up, this movie’s basic message is as follows: unless you’re an accomplished, middle aged man without too much or too little body weight, you’re good. Or, freely derived from the brain child of Adam Sandler: “If you’re not like me, you’re unworthy.” This man needs to stop making movies because he completely and utterly lacks the talent for it. It’s so bad it’s offensive, and it’s so offensive it’s bad. Bah.