Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Things That Happen In Every Grown Ups Movie

The Happy Madison production company has been pumping out comedies religiously since its founding in 1999, most of which prominently feature its founder, comedy legend Adam Sandler. "Grown Ups" is no exception, zeroing in so acutely on the lead group's close friendship with Sandler's character that it could easily be mistaken as semi-autobiographical on his part.

The first "Grown Ups" movie was released in 2010 and, despite a dismal critical reception, managed to become Adam Sandler's highest-grossing film to date, earning back more than three times its budget, according to Box Office Mojo. This success led to a follow-up film three years later, though competition with big blockbusters like "Iron Man 3" and "The Conjuring" prevented it from surpassing its predecessor's accomplishment.

Both films follow a group of childhood friends portrayed by Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider (though Schneider was unable to reprise his role in the sequel) as they reconnect in adulthood. Let's take a look at some specific examples of repeat gags present in the "Grown Ups" franchise for some foresight on what to expect if they ever make a third film.

Revisiting Youth

Both of the movies in the "Grown Ups" franchise primarily focus on the central cast being rocketed back to their youth for different reasons. In the first movie, we see the gang reconvene in their hometown to mourn the passing of their beloved Coach Buzzer (Blake Clark), who had led them to win their junior high basketball championship thirty years earlier. The gang then spends the weekend together in the lake house they frequented in their youth. In the second film, the group of dads connect with their kids and watch as they go through rites of passage, triggering a bout of nostalgia for the four friends.

This is hardly a new theme for one of Sandler's films, as revisiting childhood and finding outlets to escape the mundane day-to-day are central features of a huge number of his films. It gives the friends an excuse to act childishly, fitting with the usual Sandler comedic tone, in addition to opening the plot up for occasional wholesome moments. The focus on developing friendships over the course of a lifetime isn't surprising, considering Sandler's own history of putting friendships in the spotlight.

Surprise Grown Children

If we had a nickel for every time there's a twist involving a surprise near-adult child in the 'Grown Ups' franchise, we'd have two nickels. Which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice. The first surprise appearance comes towards the middle of the first movie, when Rob Schneider's character's daughter Jasmine shows up at the lake house in a beat-up 1973 MGB GT. While Jasmine is by no means a surprise for Rob, the rest of the group seems to be downright shocked to learn, in the midst of leering at her, that she's their friend's child.

David Spade's character Marcus also features an older child, albeit one he's previously unaware of. His appearance in the second film begins with him meeting the product of a long-ago one-night stand. Braden is a problem child who stirs up the plot with various bursts of delinquency including vandalizing the frat house of the film's antagonists, but at least he isn't subject to the blatant sexualization that Jasmine experiences in the first film.

Modern Life Baffling Dads

It often seems like a requirement in comedy writing that parents are at least mildly confused about their kids' interests. Sometimes this leads to sharing, which can bond the parent and child through a new shared interest, but most often it serves as an opportunity for the older generation to inflict "better" practices upon the youth.

Most of the first film's plot surrounds the older and younger generations' struggles to bond and understand each other, with varying degrees of success. The first instance opens the movie, as Adam Sandler's Lenny is baffled by the fictional Grand Theft Auto-like game his sons are playing.

"Grown Ups 2" doubles down on the parental bewilderment, as the families struggle with everything from their kids' fashions to how the much-younger locals experience familiar rites of passage like jumping into the nearby quarry and throwing parties. The primary antagonists of the film, Milo and Andy (portrayed by none other than Milo Ventimiglia and Taylor Lautner), are foils of the older friend group, and ultimately their meaner and less thoughtful methods of entertaining themselves work against them, leading to their rather painful exits from the plot.

Lamonsoff Positivity

Kevin James is by no means a stranger to staying perky when he's down, especially in his comedic roles, but this recurring character feature is exaggerated even further for his role as Eric in "Grown Ups," where his entire family is supportive and kind almost to a fault. In the first film, this is largely shown through James' usual gag of popping up right after a pratfall and claiming — however improbably — to be completely fine, along with excessively positivity-focused parenting. "We don't like to say no," is what Maria Bello's Sally says as she breastfeeds the family's four-year-old, and that sentiment continues unflappably throughout the franchise.

The second film finds the Lamonsoffs midway through tutoring their now-seven-year-old son in simple math, a common enough practice for parents with young children. This process has, however, been complicated by that same "never say no" mentality, as they are determined to never correct the son's incorrect arithmetic so as not to break his confidence. The same reasoning prevents Eric from questioning his daughter's choice to wear Harajuku-esque shoes to the last day of school, something which leads to her being bullied later. Despite the consequences of these choices, they are mostly used to add fodder for one-liners throughout the film and never lead to the family seriously questioning this attitude.

Fluids to the Face

It seems that you just can't make this kind of comedy film without a lot of fluids to the face. Who doesn't love laughing at someone else being put through something viscerally uncomfortable? (Well, a lot of people, but certainly not the ones who made this movie.) The fluids in "Grown Ups" start off fairly tame, with everyday materials such as paint and mace, but escalate to include human and animal urine along with breast milk.

While none of these events are really necessary, at least the animal urine in the second film eventually becomes relevant to the plot: The deer who is terrorizing the family enters as the deus ex machina to deal with one of the film's primary antagonists, Andy. Though how exactly the deer manages to get up to the second floor and urinate on the faces of two protagonists is anyone's guess. The breast milk which is used to drench Deanne in the first movie is not quite so clearly related to the plot, though it did earn a chuckle with the deadpan delivery of her response: "It's alright. It's actually not that bad."

Everybody Hates Chris

As with each of the other characters, Chris Rock's Kurt McKenzie was designed to play to the actor's usual brand. He's put upon, verbally abused, belittled, and someone else in the room is always more popular than he is. Kurt starts out as an undervalued homemaker in the first movie, and his desire to do a good job as a parent is often the butt of the joke. His wife – Maya Rudolph's Deanne — is consistently critical and demeaning towards all her husband's choices, even when he's left the kitchen for a day job in the second installment. Even his mother-in-law can't stand him, and can be heard insulting him in both films along with his children, who regularly team up with the rest of the family to pick on him.

In his very first scene, we find him having just finished a complicated recipe he had seen on television with his wife. He offers it to her, seeming to expect it to be an exciting prospect, and is met only with complaints from the rest of the family. His son even goes so far as to say "it tastes like roadkill," despite having an apparently untouched plate. Although no other specific instances of cooking horrors are mentioned all involved characters repeatedly discourage and belittle Kurt's love of cooking for the rest of the film.

Men Married Out of Their League

Despite everything about them, even the adult villains of the two films have beautiful, devoted wives who fully understand and support them. This fact is so prevalent throughout this franchise that even the characters have noticed it. "So what if he's fugly? All the guys in our family are fugly. That don't stop us from getting the hot chicks," to cite Lenny's words from the second film, and he's not exactly wrong. Whether it's because of their confidence or their laid-back sense of humor, the male characters seem to have done pretty well for themselves.

This isn't to say that an average Joe can't marry someone as objectively beautiful as Salma Hayek — but it would definitely make more sense if any of them had any obvious shared interests, ideals, or goals. At least all of the women are seemingly happy and feel safe in their relationships, but since they are largely excluded from the boys' antics we, unfortunately, don't get to know them well enough to understand exactly why they married their husbands.

Gender Role Reversal

The concept of women holding all the power in a relationship has made more than one appearance as a source of comedy in Sandler's films, but "Grown Ups" takes the whole gender role reversal thing a bit further. Working in opposition to stereotypes, Eric is the one tired of his day job, while his wife Roxanne must come to terms with her workaholism. Kurt's work as a homemaker being terrorized by his mother-in-law's crassness also works against gender stereotypes by putting more power in the hands of the women on screen with him.

But the examples don't stop with those specifics. Sandler sought to find comedy by subverting expectations in many aspects of gendered behavior. Women are in most instances just as crude as their male counterparts, often even more publicly, since the men tend to only be open with each other while alone in their group, whereas the women feel comfortable ogling any attractive man in public. The fathers here are all depicted as desperately wanting more emotional connection, and in a few instances, their softness in regard to their family and friends is overwhelmingly wholesome.

Healthy Relationships

Throughout the series, it is made abundantly clear that while all the married couples have their issues, they strive to resolve them openly and with clear communication. Even in the McKenzie household, where Kurt has clearly been the butt of the joke for years, he and Deanne are ultimately able to work things out with a simple emotional conversation. "You barely even touch me or look at me," he says to Deanne, after she questions him about spending time with another woman. Deanne's response to this is genuine understanding and concern for his feelings, and the pair make plans for recurring date nights moving forward.

While Rob and Gloria ravenously paw at each other, the Lamonsoffs figure out their boundaries in parenting, and the Feders find a work-life balance, it might seem like the single unpartnered member of the group, Marcus, would be left out of this element of the plot. In fact, Marcus' single status is among the healthiest personal relationships in the group, as he never once feels forced to pursue a lifestyle that doesn't fit his personality and is unequivocal about his lack of desire to settle down with one woman.

Beating the Bully

Like most kids who endured bullying in their youth, these characters live in fear of their antagonists and occasionally fantasize about teaching them a lesson. In the first movie, Dickie (Colin Quinn) is the leader of the basketball team that faced off against the protagonists in the championship match back in 1978, and he has not aged kindly. He continues to harass and antagonize the group, throwing slurs and insults at them alongside his posse whenever they encounter each other. Though he's clearly losing the rematch Dickie insists on at the end of the film, Lenny chooses to throw the game after observing the demoralizing conditions that Dickie has been living in. This gives him a moral victory and even boosts the opinion of his sons in his favor.

By the time we reach the second film, Dickie is no more than a crotchety annoyance and perhaps even a friend. So another childhood enemy has to be unearthed. This time Lenny's opponent Tommy — portrayed by Stone Cold Steve Austin — is massive and intimidating, making Lenny's repeated claims of being able to beat the man up seem unlikely. At the end of the film, though, Lenny manages to claim the upper hand and regain some confidence by standing up for himself at a party, though the course of the scene arguably lands him in the role of the bully as he publicly humiliates Tommy.

Edgy Comedy

The edgier end of Adam Sandler's comedic writing can at best be called juvenile, and at worst hateful. Unfortunately, when it comes to gritty shock comedy, "Grown Ups" covers the entire spectrum. From the fatphobia and misogyny of the first movie to the near-constant transphobia of the second, the "Grown Ups" team went all out focusing on a brand of comedy that had become dated long before the release of this film.

A scene occurs towards the beginning of "Grown Ups 2" that perfectly highlights the style of bottom-of-the-barrel writing used in the franchise when Deanne attends an exercise class with Salma Hayek's Roxanne. In this scene, a group of women are sexually harassed by a janitor (Jon Lovitz), and while this could have been used as a moment to have fun with the daily trauma of being a woman, the writers instead chose for no one to hold the character accountable, letting him walk away unscathed at the end of it. Immediately after this transpires, Deanne's son Ronnie pulls a jockstrap out of a nearby woman's bag, prompting Deanne and Roxanne to openly mock the woman's "manly" features. The scene is wrapped with the hoard of women in the class harassing the gay instructor for not being available for them to sexualize. Not painstakingly constructed jokes so much as pauses to point and laugh at anyone too different from the core cast, these efforts at comedy don't exactly stand the test of time.

Supportive Parenting

Though sometimes it goes too far, both movies focus on the parents learning how to be supportive without being damaging to their kids. Though even the Lamonsoffs have to say no eventually, each life lesson is handled supportively and calmly by the parents.

When Lenny's sons just won't put down their tech and come outside, he resorts to strong-arming them into the outdoors, but he does not just abandon them with a "go play" as so many movie parents do. Instead, he accompanies them and strives to find activities that will interest the entire group. When Eric's son Bean struggles to make his own move away from breastmilk towards cow's milk, Eric chooses to show him that it's okay by drinking it himself, making an effort to set a clear example. 

In the second movie, this feature becomes a central aspect of the plot, when Marcus has to convince his newly discovered teen son that he does genuinely want to be a part of his life. The other fathers make obvious shows of their support too, as Eric spots his daughter wearing shoes he doesn't understand the appeal of, but knows she worked hard on.

The Real Enemy is Masculinity

Most of the major issues present in the films boil down to men being overly masculine to make up for problems in their lives. This is a central feature of both plots, though it progresses very differently in the two films.

At the start, each member of the group has fallen into a rut. They're stuck in the past, having forgotten how to be open and happy under the weight of societal pressure. Lenny works so hard that at the start of the first movie he discovers that he is detached from the rest of his family. That pressure is felt by all five of the men in various ways, and is resolved in the plot by them embracing and communicating their needs and emotions more clearly while making an effort to be kinder. Their growth as men ends up bringing them closer to all of the people in their lives.

The second movie is rife with examples of this, from Eric being embarrassed about spending time watching soap operas with his mother, to the frat brothers being excessively territorial when encountering the adults. The main difference here lies in how it is handled, since the writing takes the perspective that the protagonist men must respond to these challenges by being even more excessively masculine. The plot here is resolved with violence and minimal communication, though at least it is made clear that Lenny has accepted his inner child by his excitement at having successfully "burpsnarted."