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Grown Ups 2: Another Sandler Vanity Project
One cannot deny the fact that actor and founder of Happy Madison Productions – a production company responsible for comic lemons such as The Animal, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and You Don't Mess with the Zohan – looks like he may have lost his touch. The goofball charm that made him so likable appears to be wearing rather thin. Never-the-less, there are still people out there who don't mind paying good money to go and see the one and only Adam Sandler in action.
Grown Ups 2 plays out over the course of one seemingly long day. Lenny Feder (Sandler), deciding to return to his roots, has now relocated back to his East Coast hometown along with his wife, Roxanne (Hayek) and their three kids. The quandaries of fatherhood is something that he now has to deal with, but at least he's not on his own; his buddies, including cable repairman Kurt (Rock), fart-master Eric (James) and eternal loafer, Marcus (Higgins), all share the same burden of parenthood.
Kurt, along with wife Deanne (Rudolph), has three children of his own – including one terrorising toddler. Eric and wife Sally (Bello) struggle in managing their stubborn son, while Marcus is forced to face paternity when he discovers that he's father to begrudging teenage son, Braden (Ludwig).
It's the start of the summer and, feeling the splendour of their reunion, the foursome head for a day out. Roaming around their hometown, they interact with the locals, before eventually running into a few local frat boys - led by Andy (Lautner) - who force the group to deal with their deep-seated high school memories of bullying.
Director Dennis Dugan, Sandler's long-time collaborator and winner of one too many Razzie awards, steps behind the camera for the ninth time with his shining star. Sandler fans will be pleased to see not much has changed in the Dugan-Sandler formula. Much like its predecessor, there isn't an ounce of fluidity, flow or sense to the story.
Even the potentially exciting idea of including cameos from other Saturday Night Live alumni is poorly handled and rushed, and essentially comes across as a desperate move to fuel interest in this otherwise nonsensical narrative.
Thankfully, James and Rock are slightly more alert and animated throughout the film, though the talents of Hayek, Rudolph and the rest of the wives are criminally underutilised.
Grown Ups 2 is a pointless and unnecessary sequel; absurd, coarse and heavy-handed on brainless humour, it sure looks like someone here still has some serious growing up to do.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.