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Grown Ups is Mean

Published June 25, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures
Grown Ups Poster Grown Ups
Grown Ups is not my kind of movie. I don’t like comedies where people are mean to each other. That’s not funny to me. I like most Adam Sandler films. I don’t love them all, and a couple I hate, but I really like The Zohan and Click of the recent ones. So it’s not the style of the comedian. It’s just a really hateful movie.

Review: Grown Ups


The whole movie is not only the five guys insulting each other, but their wives insulting them and their kids insulting them and even their moms insulting them! It’s particularly bad because there are five comedians involved and they’re all competing for attention. It feels so desperate.

It’s the comedy of people being inconsiderate. Isn’t it funny that I did whatever I wanted with no regard for your well being? The one character who’s actually kind and helps people gets it the worst. It’s not a joke to just treat someone badly. Jokes are creative. Just saying, “You failed at that and you suck” isn’t a joke. Even if you dress it all up with some comic metaphor, it’s not an actual joke.

I don’t even have to qualify that though because these aren’t even funny. Some of them are really reaching with elaborate setup for something that’s ultimately a one-liner. Oh, now everybody react to a big pratfall. Oh, look at the role reversal. Let’s emasculate stay at home dads because that’s not the way we think it’s supposed to be.

The excuse will be “that’s what comedians do.” Well, people didn’t get into comedy because they’re secure, well adjusted people. That is not any sort of ideal for relationships we’d want to spend even 90 minutes with. I consider all of these actors lovely people and I only wish for them to find happiness sharing their gifts in a positive way, like <B>The Zohan</B>. I also think the best way to deal with abuse is to not join in and just be a better person.



You can see where the kids get it from though. Each generation is horrible. If your mom criticizes your dad and your dad criticizes his friends, you’ll learn to talk back. If your mom insults your husband and you join in, your marriage is going to fall apart and your kids will take all your money. That’s what happens in this cycle.

You should not accept this from a comedy movie. You should not laugh at people being mean. You’re worth more than this. You deserve Wedding Crashers and even Date Night. And the audience I saw it with laughed at everything, so I guess I’m being judgmental towards them. Of course, they just got a free movie so maybe they’re just playing along.

It’s not even like I’m a prude. I practically worship South Park. South Park are mean to celebrities, but it’s satire. They have a creative point of view, and ultimately the joke is on us celebrity obsessed gawkers. And they have a mean character but he’s supposed to be an A-hole, an Archie Bunker type so the joke is that you shouldn’t be that way.

Even Borat is exposing flaws for the betterment of society, and the only way you could be hurt is if you really like being a racist and tolerance hurts your feelings. And the 40-Year-Old Virgin guys may exchange “You know how I know you’re gay” but the joke is they don’t actually think they’re gay. That joke is also the art form of bringing in a third tangent, but they’re definitely not saying “I judge you for your shortcomings.”

Look, if you want to marry someone who’ll make fun of you the rest of your life, enjoy not having a moment of peace and security. If you want your kids to alienate any possible friend from their life, then teach them the best zingers. I think it’s a defense mechanism that leads to a life of unhappiness. Interestingly, that’s kind of what Funny People was about.

For a straight comedy though, I’d rather watch The Hangover where the guys may go through hell, but they’re the heroes so you root for them. Or About a Boy is about an A-hole but he’s not mistreating anyone. He’s just amusingly selfish. Also those movies are funny.

Somewhere in Grown-Ups there is one good message. Sandler’s character wants to teach his family to spend time together instead of texting and worshiping fashion week in Milan. That’s good in theory. In this case, however, it seems unfortunately that the cell phones and supermodels would be better influences than the family members themselves.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Columbia Pictures
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