SLAM at the Movies: Grown Ups
Roaming SLAM goes to LAX.
by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport
Complimentary. On the arm. Gratuitous. Gratis. No matter how you slice it, free is the best word in the English language. Why else would people lose their effin’ minds for free tees and crap shot out of cannons at basketball games? So when Sony offered to fly SLAM at the Movies out to experience the press junket for its new movie, Grown Ups, I was all over it like stink on a monkey.
So I flew out to LAX on Thursday, June 3, which was the same day as Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals between the L.A. Lakers and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center (see all of our Finals’ predictions here). It goes without saying that I would’ve loved to join SLAM’s Lang Whitaker and Marcel Mutoni in press row for the game, but I had a job to do and so I kept my Roger Ebert hat on and soldiered on.
Sony put me up in a nice hotel on the beach in Santa Monica (Shouts to Chip Namias). It was a beautiful day, so I went to the beach and spied a group of women taking surfing lessons and joined in. That was some good, clean fun. After that, I flew a kite up and down the beach and then stood in for the lifeguard on duty and no, I did not run anywhere in slow motion. Famished, I then taxied down Pico to hit up L.A.’s obligatory eatery, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle. I, of course, feasted on the yard bird and waffles and couldn’t move for 30 minutes thanks to a heavy bout of itis. After the staff wheel-barreled me out of there, I cruised back down Pico to the hotel.
That night, all of us media folks were whisked away in a nice limo bus to the screening. Once at the theater, we were treated to…wait for it…more free stuff! We each had coupons to get whatever we wanted from the concession stand. Needless to say, I loaded up on Goobers, Sour Patch Kids and Twizzlers like Eddie Murphy in that scene from Trading Places. Once inside, I sat in our red velvet-roped press section and enjoyed the movie.
After the movie, we were all treated to a rooftop after party with an open bar. I’d planned on hitting the town afterward, but by the time the party wrapped, I was wiped.
The next morning, we were all bused to Malibu where we would get an opportunity to interview the actors in the movie. Once we got there, there were voluptuous women frolicking the grounds and engaged in games of volleyball, horseshoes and frisbee. It was like something out of a Russ Meyer film.
There was an endless buffet and the DJ let me spin a few records. Don’t worry, I steered clear of Soulja Boy. I had to play “California Girls” by the Beach Boys, though. After the press conference, we were all taken back to hotel and released back in to the wild. I got word that Interscope/Aftermath was having an after party for 50 Cent and subsequently finagled my way on to the guest list. But as these things go, the party was moved from its original location and I couldn’t get the flaky promoter on the phone for info on the new venue. No matter, I hit various spots on Sunset and still had a ripping good time (Benny Hill voice). Before heading back to Santa Monica, I dipped in to In-N-Out Burger and got fat fat full.
All in all, it was an arduous journey, but somebody’s gotta do it.
And now, for our feature presentation:
No matter what you think of Adam Sandler, the guy has a loyal audience that ensures his Happy Madison-produced films rack up a huge “ca-ching” at the box office. To date, his movies have earned a cool $3 billion worldwide. His new vehicle, Grown Ups, which opens nationwide on June 25, offers up a comedic dream team, pairing the affable actor with Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade and Rob Schneider. It’s like the Rat Pack, only without the singing. This quintet of funnymen gel like the historic crooners and serve up the bawdy, pubescent humor you’d expect, but with a twist. These guys are all “growed” up now. They have children and wives and, though they still cling to puerile sensibilities like kids on a play date, they have grown up problems.
The boys reunite 30 years after winning a church league basketball championship as kids. When their beloved coach dies, the boys return to their home town to pay their respects and spend the 4th of July weekend at the same lake house where they celebrated their championship. Sandler plays Lenny Feder, the team’s star player who hit the game-winning shot for the chip. Feder grows up to be a successful wheeling and dealing Hollywood agent with spoiled, Justin Bieber-like kids who text their Nanny for hot chocoloate. Rock plays Kurt McKenzie, a “househusband” whose wife has his balls in her tailored suit pocket. James is Eric Lamonsoff, a salesman who pretends to be more successful than he is. Spade is Marcus Higgins, the only single guy in the bunch who refuses to grow up and Schneider is Rob Hilliard, the weird guru wannabe who loves older women.
Not surprisingly, with these five guys sharing screen time, comedy ensues. But the usual frat boy humor associated with Sandler pictures is toned down here and it’s the kids in the movie who garner the most chuckles. The boy who plays James’ son still drinks milk from his Mom’s teat at four years old, which makes for some awkward laughs and the girl who plays Sandler’s daughter is beyond cute. The ladies in the film include the scrumptious Salma Hayek, who plays Sandler’s fashion designer wife, Maria Bello, who plays James’ wife and Maya Rudolph, who plays Rock’s wife. After a star turn on 30 Rock, Hayek’s comedic chops are on display in this film. Rudolph is an SNL alum so she shines and Bello, who has never been in a comedy, holds her own.
As for the basketball angle, the boys are confronted by the losing team (Cool cameos by Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn and Tim Meadows), who want a rematch because they believe Sandler’s foot was on the line when he hit the infamous shot decades ago. The boys finally agree to play and Sandler gets a chance to show off his patented 18-foot bank shot (The cast overwhelmingly agrees that Sandler really has “game” in real life).
If you’re a Sandler fan, this movie won’t disappoint. It’s family fare, but it still has the impish feel of a Sandler film. Overall, on a scale from Shawn Bradley to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, this film is Bill Walton ballin’ for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Producer: Jack Giarraputo
Lenny Feder: Adam Sandler
Kurt McKenzie: Chris Rock
Eric Lamonsoff: Kevin James
Marcus Higgins: David Spade
Rob Hilliard: Rob Schneider
Roxanne Chase-Feder: Salma Hayek
Sally Lamonsoff: Maria Bello
Deanne McKenzie: Maya Rudolph
Time spent eating popcorn: 1 hour, 42 minutes