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Grown Ups: Arrested development

Rating: *

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Quick, is it too late to reconsider my one-star rating for Killers? How about my single star for The Back-up Plan? Heck, even Old Dogs might deserve a second look when compared to the execrable Grown Ups.

Adam Sandler's worst film since the one-two punch of Big Daddy and Little Nicky a decade ago, Grown Ups marks the umpteenth collaboration between the comedian and director Dennis Dugan. Dugan is to screen comedy what the atomic bomb was to Nagasaki, and with this film, he and the ostensible writers (Sandler and Fred Wolf) serve up a mirthless affair in which the only people laughing are the ones on screen. In fact, that's basically the plot of the movie: As five school chums reunite 30 years later to honor the passing of their former coach, Lenny (Sandler) makes a bad joke and the others laugh. Then Eric (Kevin James) makes a bad joke and the others laugh. And so on through Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (David Spade) and Rob (Rob Schneider). As they're laughing, those of us in the audience are cringing, whether it's because of the scene in which Eric pisses on Marcus' back, or because Marcus lands face-first (twice!) into a pile of fecal matter, or because Marcus thinks he might have had drunken intercourse with a dog, or because Rob's wife (Joyce Van Patten) is an elderly woman who enjoys sex (the film forcefully pushes the notion that old people and ugly people are only put on this planet for the amusement of past-their-prime comedians of varying skills).

The most talented performers in the film, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello and Maya Rudolph, are wasted in their roles as The Three Walking Sets of Breasts -- excuse me, the wives of Sandler, James and Rock, respectively (in arrested-development movies like these, nerdy schlubs always have hot wives). Yet even these actresses don't escape the script's indignities, as evidenced by the scene in which Bello squirts Rudolph in the face with milk from her tit. Countless sequences like this one reverted me back to my own infancy, as I wanted to do nothing more than curl up in a fetal position and block out the screen.

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