Grown Ups (UK - BD)
Marcus goes away with Adam Sandler and his friends and feels a little left out
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider star as old school friends who all meet up again at their old basketball coach's funeral. After catching up, they all decide to spread the ashes of their coach at the old lake house together. So taking all their families along, the group reminisce about old times and how different they all are now—all while chuckling, ripping into each other’s faults and watching Kevin James get hurt.
Grown Ups feels an awful lot like Sandler wanted more of the same after making Funny People to me. Funny People was a delight, with Judd Apatow mixing some of his and Sandler’s old stories with a genuinely moving and enjoyable story. Sadly Grown Ups misses that target by quite a way and comes down to a one note affair that consists of a forced plot and this group of comedians riffing for over long scenes to break it up a bit.
The cast, the majority of who I’ve enjoyed in various other movies, are a little too clique-y in their relationships on screen for me. I enjoyed the laid back approach to the story but I sometimes felt as if I was missing out on the in-joke. I get that their jokes were funny (sort of) but I didn’t really get trail the riffing went on most of the time and it just felt a little bit forced rather than friends naturally taking the piss out of each other.
As the set pieces flow out in the expected nature trails, water parks, family meals etc., the laughs are more miss than hit. The odd cameo raises the bar (Steve Buscemi’s supporting role all but steals the show) and the odd touching moment works, but generally everything feels undercooked and Grown Ups starts to rely on tried and tested movie clichés and one liners to close sloppy scenes as opposed to utilising the cast’s comedy range.
Really Grown Ups felt like Sandler was trying to pack in as many hark backs to his childhood, teenage years and “good times” as he could. All the cast seem like they're on the same page and they too are in on the agenda of reminiscing on “the good ol’ days”. This isn’t a bad thing and in lots of ways it’s what made Grown Ups work better than it should but weirdly despite all of this the story is just too run of the mill to love, the character are too thin and one note and somehow it feels like the cast are enjoying themselves enough not to worry if the audience are as well.
Grown Upsglows throughout with that Sony HD shine much akin to the other Sandler comedies on Blu-ray. It’s almost totally unnatural but there’s no denying the transfer looks pretty great in HD (even if it’s not to everyone’s tastes). The colours are vibrant to the power of ten with skin tones looking almost orange, grass greens looking like something out of a sci fi, and there’s so much lighting, everything has a reflection, even some of the wood surfaces.
All of this is obviously intentional to give the audience that warm fuzzy feeling of friends and family having a good lake house weekend together, but for the sake of all the colours and uber sharpness there seems to be something amiss in regards to real detail. Everyone’s face barely has a wrinkle and the backgrounds are so full of colour that they can sometimes become a blurry mesh of greens and bright white sunlight.
Overall Grown Ups looks fantastic within the realms of its style choices and it really is a show room show off style disc that TV salesmen like to use to highlight the basics of what HD can do (mainly due to the poppy colours) but for people who like natural looking filmmaking this could be a little to sugary sweet for their tastes.
Grown Ups is pretty straight forward with the front speakers doing most of the work with the dialogue. There’s little in the way of rear speaker action outside of the odd piece of music or forced atmospheric but honestly there’s not much going in this lifeless DTS-HD Master Audio track. Again this is obviously all by choice as the movie is about the friends and family catching up and not about any action, so criticising the track on what it isn’t ever going to do seems a bit harsh. That said the word 'bland' springs to mind.
The commentary with Dennis Dugan gets the job done in the commentary department providing everything you’d expect (in jokes, cast info and the riffing of scenes etc.). It’s a perfectly listenable track but with a cast like this I couldn’t help but think the disc was missing a very obvious cast commentary.
There are ten deleted scenes (10:15 HD) that add a few extra character bits as well as a few more lukewarm laughs.
‘Laughing is Contagious’ (04:08 HD) is a collection of clips showing the cast and crew falling apart on set intercut with the everyone talking about how much fun filming the movie was. It’s pretty one note with no real direction outside of the chuckling and that follows through to the ‘Gag Reel’ (03:49 HD).
‘Riff-O-Rama’ (04:37 HD) focuses on how the cast of comedians were allowed to just chat on screen and how director Dennis Dugan simply had to point the camera. This is followed by a long scene with the group sitting in garden chairs just riffing off each other. It sort of highlights what the movie was good at but what works for five minutes was never going to carry a 100 minute movie.
‘Dennis Dugan: Hands on Director’ (04:38) gives the director a bit of a spotlight and shows how he got in on the films good times while ‘The Lost Tapes of Norm MacDonald’ (06:46 HD) features the bit character “Geezer” and a collection of scenes (that aren’t in the movie).
‘The Cast of Grown Ups’ (07:08) has the cast telling us about each other’s characters loaded with plenty of mutual pats on the backs once again intercut with clips to show all the fun.
‘Buesy and the Monkey’ (03:24 HD) features a Gary Buesy scene with... you guessed it, a monkey (amongst other bits) which leads us into the trailers for Eat Pray Love, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Smurfs, and The Social Network.
I didn’t not like Grown Ups—in fact I could find myself easily watching this again when it starts showing on TV because it’s a dead easy watch—but it’s nothing compared to comedies I love with the same themes. In the end the movie comes off as a slightly more adult Cheaper by the Dozen, something that is inoffensive enough. Hard-core Sandler fans will more than likely eat it up as honestly this is no worse than most of his filmography and I know there’s a faction out there that love Sandler’s humour, but for me I only really enjoyed the laid back approach from the cast and the all too short moments where their time together on screen actually worked.
As for the disc, it’s packed full of candy floss features that you’ll gobble down before you know it and an uber glossy transfer that will look vibrant to the point of insanity on your flatscreens. So all in all what’ you’d expect from most high profile comedies on Blu-ray.
* Not a guarantee. The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 17th January 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 51 French, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 German, English Audio Description Track, Dolby Digital 5.1 Turkish
Subtitles: English, English HOH, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Turkish
Extras: Commentaries, Fesaturettes, Gsg Reel, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 102 minutes
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