Sam Strange Remembers: GROWN UPS

Perhaps the most hateful movie ever made.

I have this minor problem with people where I hate them and want to hurt them with my movies. My idea of perfection is a film seen by millions which personally insults every individual audience member, but in such a way that they focus on laughing at every other type of person the film makes fun of rather than dwelling on their just exposed shortcomings.

I may have almost achieved this with Grown Ups. The film isn't quite perfect - it doesn't make fun of Asians or retarded people, for instance - but it hits a wider swath of humans than I have ever previously dreamed of.

Grown Ups tells the story of five childhood friends who played together on a championship-winning little league basketball team. They are finally brought together again when their coach dies. In order to fulfill his last wishes, they all agree to stay in a cabin for the weekend to spread his ashes at his beloved lake.

Right off the bat, you might be making a couple incorrect assumptions from this plot setup. For instance, you might think these guys all loved their coach and feel sad about his passing. Not true. At his funeral, they all crack up laughing at the one guy who actually shows affection for the man. You also might think these guys all harbor some kind of nostalgic fondness for each other. This is also not true. I repeat: at their coaches funeral, they all crack up laughing at the one guy who seems capable of showing affection. These are not nice people (except for the one they all laugh at); they are sociopaths.

But that's okay, because they each deserve to be hated for various reasons, as does the world around them. For instance, the one played by Jamie Kevins is fat. Obviously, any jokes he suffers due to his weight are his own fault. If he didn't want people to laugh at him, he shouldn't have eaten all that food.

He also has a wife who won't sleep with him and two awful kids who act like assholes. We are led to understand that these woes come from the fact that his wife breast feeds his children well beyond a socially acceptable age. Obviously, there's only one way for a mother to raise children, and any deviation from that norm is akin to catching someone eating their boogers.

Chris Rock plays the black guy, which allows the film to make fun of white people. But we don't want white people to feel threatened either, so he is also his family's stay at home mom, allowing us to laugh at him, too. He has two kids and one on the way with his working wife Maya Rudolph. He also lives with his overweight mother, who supplies the film with yet another fat person to laugh at. We need two because one is too much of a movie star for fart jokes. She also has bunions which make her big toe swollen and huge. If she didn't want us laughing at her, she should consider farting less and having a doctor look at that foot.

Then there's David Spade (played by Kurt Cobain). He's a bachelor. I'm honestly not sure if we're supposed to be laughing at him or not. He looks and acts like a loser, but given all the awful families everyone has, he kind of comes off as the smartest of the bunch.

Most of the jokes come via Rob Schneider's character, Rob. This fucking idiot likes old ladies and tries as hard as he can to be a gentle nonjudgmental force of good to the world. He is a practicing vegetarian, has an active sex life, and has raised three wonderful daughters. You're probably laughing your ass off already, but I'll add just one more big thing: He's ugly! This is why it's okay to laugh when he is repeatedly slapped in the face with dehydrated bananas. Not just once or twice, but more like seven times. Enough to draw blood. Or as I like to call it: Liquid Hilarity.

That leaves only Adam Sandler, a Hollywood agent who lives in a massive mansion and gets to sleep next to Salma Hayek but also likes to dress like he just got done judging a wet t-shirt contest at Hooters.

His two boys sit around playing video games all day. Sandler doesn't approve, though he did buy the video games. They also text their maid when they want something. Sandler doesn't approve, though he did give them cell phones and a maid. Speaking of the maid, Sandler can't go a weekend without her, but forces her to pretend she's an exchange student while on their cabin trip because he knows only assholes have maids and would rather come off as a regular dude than a super rich douche bag, but doesn't actually want to stop being a super rich douche bag.

So all these guys meet up for a weekend in the country, during which they try to recapture their youth, which is easy because all they did as kids was be hateful and make fun of each other. There are lots of running gags involving fat people and farting. There's a dog whose vocal chords have been severed, so they make fun of that, too. Since there are five dudes, there are plenty of opportunities for gay panic jokes, especially when their wives catch them all butt fucking each other as a sort of prank.

The guys also discover that their kids are all entitled assholes who are growing up soft because of modern technology and over-parenting. So they all make a pact to start beating the shit out of them. Everyone learns a valuable lesson about respect. Except for the really little one, who dies.

But not everything is peachy. It turns out the team this group of boys beat at basketball 30 years ago has issues. See, having lost the game, they did not go on to become successful assholes. Instead, they remained in their hometown and became lazy dumbasses. Their Adam Sandler is a cook. Their Chris Rock is bald. Their David Spade has a lazy eye. Their Jamie Kevins is even fatter. Their Rob Schneider is actually just another Jamie Kevins.

These guys want revenge. Not just for their lost game but for the way these rich jerks have re-invaded their life only to litter all over their lake and make fun of their physical shortcomings (particularly in regards to the lazy-eye gentleman). So they demand a basketball rematch. Who wins? The good guys, obviously.

(three stars)