Movie Reviews: Grown Ups, RED

1 posts

President Camacho

I had the misfortune of seeing two mediocre movies against my will this weekend because they were playing in front of me while drinking whiskey.

"Grown Ups" stars memorable names from the old '90s SNL crew-- Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider-- as well as Kevin James and cameos by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, and Tim Meadows. You could have called this dud before it came out-- it's the old trick of rounding up washed-up high profile names to recoup production costs plus a "safe" profit, all without having to worry about a troublesome storyline.

The multiracial core cast were naturally all best friends in high school and recently their beloved basketball coach died, bringing them to plan a reunion-type family vacation at a local lake. Adam Sandler's character of course is the most successful and cutting-edge as some Hollywood exec. Anyway, the first 20 minutes or so were funnier than expected, in particular with negro jokes. Chris Rock is ripped on by his friends as a "bulimic Michael Vick", while Rock's mother shoves a child out of the way when she gleefully discovers the vacation house-- "Ooh a porch swing! I know what I'ma be doin all weekend!". Later on the porch she reveals some nasty bunions on her foot as the other "Grown Ups" grimace in disapproval. This is good old Dirty South negrotic foot humor-- "Yo mamma mix her toe jam with her cereal", etc.

However, after the initial salvo, you realize with something approaching horror that the screenwriters have used up all their half-decent material in the beginning as the film degenerates into an autopilot of each character doing his own pathetic Jerry Seinfeld impression. And it's like Jerry Seinfeld from The Marriage Ref , a self-conscious realization of how unfunny your shtick is. The screenwriters did too much cocaine and not enough thinking, in the manner of a banking exec who forgot to cover his tracks after raping his clientele. You are stunned that even a Hollywood producer would put such a foul product before his audience, reigniting the age-old dispute over whether Hollywood has more contempt for the audience or the art of film-making.

By the end of "Grown Ups" you are mentally and even physically exhausted, like after a forced march through the Sinai with Netanyahu himself prodding you in the back with a Galil and asking for spare change.

Grade: F


RED stars Bruce Willis as a retired CIA vet (RED=Retired, Extremely Dangerous in spook-speak) who for some unknown reason (IIRC it's the typical "list of people who know that X happened in 1982 need to die") is being hunted down by govt. After they demolish his house with hundreds of rounds of ammo he emerges from the basement and kills them all from close range and goes on the run. He takes the milf from WEEDS with him.

Along the way Willis puts together a team of fellow ex-CIA REDs, the first being John Malkovich, who is a parody on the gun-crazy loner from Granby, Missery with a lake and minefield separating his frontyard from the outside world. The property house is in fact a decoy and Malkovich lives in a nearby "car" with a trapdoor seat that leads to a rustic Saddam-hole. Malkovich suggests feeding the WEEDS broad to crocodiles down the road but Willis says he likes her.

Anyway they get some other REDs like Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman and fight ZOG to the death with lots of cheeky yiddish jokes thrown in between them along the way. Freeman's performance is notable, as he stretches to play a wise old infallible negro. At the end of the movie Willis is cornered by the bad guy Agent Cooper who's been chasing him for days, and Cooper inexplicably kills his own boss while letting Willis free, assuring Willis that "I got this" when asked if he can "take care of this mess".

All in all several thousand rounds of ammunition are fired in the movie, with the REDs repeatedly holding off squads of special ops guys with a .50 cal machine gun. Of course throughout we see the usual Hollywood portrayal of secret agents being juggernaut warriors instead of analyst nerds. I guess it's some grand message for the Baby Boomer generation that they can "take this country back", that they're not morally bankrupt and economically expendable. In one scene while grappling with Cooper Willis goes, "Kordesky trained you?" [-'Yeah'] "I trained Kordesky", then he snaps the younger man's socket out of place. Yeah right, Boomers, only thing you're snapping is your waistlines while the Latina nurse snaps a stent into your artery then you each go home and watch "America's Got Talent".

Grade: C-