I regrettably suffered the unfortunate experience of seeing Grown Ups on a big screen. Not only am I not a fan of his shtick, I rarely like what most deem his better works. I appreciated both Punch-Drunk Love and I especially enjoyed Funny People (a sorely underrated film). But other than those two offerings of legitimate human emotion, I find all of his work devoid of any worthy qualities. Even The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates leave me cold.
With Grown Ups, Sandler has developed no new or refined comedic skills. In fact all of his existing skills appear to have hit rock bottom. This piece of work is both unfunny and unoriginal in every conceivable sense. It is even hard to watch at points.
The plot is overly simple:Â a few old buddies get their families together for a summer hang-out thing. Thatâ€™s pretty much it. The only conflicts are, well, stuff happens. This essentially works as nothing but a template for slapstick gags, unrealistic family drama, and outrageous behavior.
I would delve into further details about the plot and the eccentricities of the characters, but I saw the film a few months ago and appear to have forgotten pretty much all of it. All I do remember is one scene that particularly bothered me. During this sequence, all five of the â€œgrown-upsâ€ are sitting around outside in lawn chairs with beers. They complain about the wife, but mostly the kids. Essentially this scene serves as an emotional throw-back rant to the good old days when kids did outdoor activities and didnâ€™t suffer from ADD and want nothing but television and video games. The scene is not only poorly written and acted, it is frustratingly unoriginal, unemotional, unfunny, and overtly stereotypical to grown men, women, and the entire generation of children to which they complain.
Not that I legitimately expected any sincere quality from a film whose primary effort was likely for those involved to sit back and have a good time. I know Sandler has his crowd, but Iâ€™m not part of it. I just want to see another Funny People performance.
As for the DVD, it is what it is. Does anyone really care to see more of this film? Well if you do, they predictably offer a gag reel to go with it. Although it is hard to distinguish this reel from actual footageâ€¦
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I have seen it twice and have you yet to produce a notable opinion on this film. I love it and it annoys me, I hate it but I enjoy almost everything about it. I know that makes no sense. All I do know is that I am grateful that this film is on DVD now. Hopefully with the ability to view it over and over again I will solidify and organize my schizophrenic relationship with this bizarre film.
As you all know this film is Edgar Wrightâ€™s (Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead) trip across the pond. It is about a quirky, young indie type kid played by the overly-typecast Michael Cera who must defeat evil ex-boyfriends of the girl heâ€™s after. It is an original plot that takes on a unique style as if a literal visualization of comic books. Alex rather expertly explains that the film â€œdoes for video games what the Toy Story films do for toys â€“ stir up a wonderful sense of nostalgia.â€ That sense of nostalgia is what elevates the film beyond the obsessively quirky personality the film inhabits.
Iâ€™ve come to the conclusion, after several years of developing this opinion, that I in fact, do not care for Michael Cera. I love Superbad, Juno, and Arrested Development, but there is something bland even in his deliberate persona. I think Jesse Eisenberg pulled it off a little stronger and he did The Social Network, semi-escaping his typecasting. I await a bold career choice to reinvigorate my interest in Cera.
As for Wright, this is by far his weakest film. But that does not make it a misstep. When your first two films are Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, well, frankly Iâ€™m not sure how he could live up to that. This was as successful a follow-up as one could have hoped for. This was a better hop across the pond than Simon Peggâ€™s futile effort, Run Fatboy Run.
All in all, I love the film. And hate it. And love it. I look forward to Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen in Paul next year. But what I really want is another Pegg-Frost-Wright mash-up, given the first two outings, it would appear that they can do no wrong.
This is a disappointing release of a film that couldâ€™ve had a plethora of fun features on a DVD. There is a gag reel and some deleted scenes. The commentary is mediocre and there are no real featurrettes. Well, you canâ€™t win â€˜em all, at least we get the movie; thatâ€™s what really counts.
On the Art of DVDs
Grown Ups has a rather generic and displeasing poster that they maintained for the DVD. I guess that is pretty fitting given the quality of the film. The only difference between this and the poster art is the title got moved from the bottom to the top.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World had a pretty fun set of very original posters that accurately depicted the film. While the original showsÂ Cera with a guitar on a relatively blank background, the new art shows all of the characters in an appropriate collage. I enjoy both of them, but I like the new one just because it displays a little more and I think the frenetic clustered nature of it fits the film. Pretty damn good, overall.
I apologize for missing this column last week; it was a tad bit hectic. So Iâ€™ll start with covering that briefly. As you all know Toy Story 3 came out. We all know it is awesome, one of the best films of the year even. And we all know its Oscar potential. But, to go with it, it has one of the fullest DVD sets released all year. Seriously, check out the features, the artwork, everything is great here.
Also, The Pacific got its release. I imagine that this will be a popular Christmas gift this year. Iâ€™m not a fan 100%, itâ€™s just not really my thing, but I can see why people obsess over it. It is awesome in its own way.
Other than that, from both this week and next week I canâ€™t find anything worth mentioning other than a straight-to-DVD release of something called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undeadâ€¦ I am intrigued and disturbed at the same time. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an existentialist play sidetracking Hamlet; I canâ€™t imagine how or why they would be undead or who the audience of this film is.
Film Misery Recommends
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is worth checking out, if not buying. Grown Ups isnâ€™t worth much of anything. Toy Story 3 and The Pacific hit the shelves last week; both are excellent.