Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade, Grown Ups a few years ago was a thoroughly-likeable and surprisingly-funny tale of a group of people getting together and learning what their real priorities in life should be.
The makers have now celebrated its success with a sequel which opts out of any plot and goes absolutely nowhere.
In the first film, Lenny Feder (Sandler) was a Hollywood hot-shot agent who had made a packet but had lost his way, lapsing into unfulfilment and family bickering.
Then the death of someone once dear to him proved the pretext for an old-mates reunion which reunited him with all the things that matter.
His response, so we learn at the start of the sequel, has been to take his family back to his old hometown where the comedy tone is quickly set. He and his wife wake up to find a deer staring at them. The deer is soon dangling his wife’s bra from its antlers, and that’s about as good as it gets.
We then follow what is presumably a typical day for Lenny Feder (Sandler) as he teams up with Eric (James), Kurt (Rock) and Marcus (Spade) for a day of boys-will-be-boys japes for old-time’s sake. Except that this really is all they have got left.
Along the way they challenge the new kids on the block, a group whose line in comedy is endlessly to send up US frat group rituals. Presumably you need to know what they are to find their debunking amusing.
And so it goes on, to the increasing realisation that nothing is actually happening until the blissful release of minute 59 when the film elicits its first laugh. Sadly, also its last.
Meanwhile. Eric (James) persists with his party piece, a burp, a fart and a sneeze in seamless progression, which might just about have been funny the first time. By the end, it’s symptomatic of a film that’s all sound and no funny.
The Grown Ups didn’t grow up; but the humour’s gone AWOL.