Grown Ups suggests a new phase in Adam Sandler’s career: Sandler as star-purveyor of mildly risqué, middle-aged family-values comfort food. Directed by Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan), the movie is about five schmoes in their early 40s who reunite at a lakeside cabin for the funeral of their old beloved basketball coach (who led them to victory when they were 12). Each of the characters has two traits and a warm heart; according to today’s screenwriting math, that’s three dimensions. Sandler is the Hollywood agent with a high-maintenance wife (Salma Hayek) and a trio of kids who are bratty, pampered technology nuts. Rob Schneider is a pompadoured vegan married to a hippie old enough to be his mother. Chris Rock is a househusband whose wife (Maya Rudolph) and mother-in-law keep his balls in a sling. David Spade is the drunken, lewd single guy, and Kevin James is a jolly loser whose wife (Maria Bello) still breast-feeds their 4-year-old son.
For a while, the movie looks like Couples Retreat or a Tyler Perry house party, only instead of cookie-cutter conflicts, everyone just grows happier and more relaxed. There’s a token sprinkle of gross-out gags (a giant bunion, a game of ”arrow roulette”), and Schneider’s daughters are ridiculous leggy babes out of an old Warrant video, but mostly this is a comedy about five ordinary wisenheimers just hanging out, trying to top each other with insults and catch a break from the families they (mostly) love. The big climax? Everyone goes to a water park! Diverting enough to get by, Grown Ups is Adam Sandler growing up — but not too much. B-