June 25, 2010, - 8:23 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Grown Ups,” “Solitary Man,” “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” “Knight & Day”

By Debbie Schlussel

Here are my reviews of this week’s new releases at the box office:

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*  “Knight And Day“:  Read my complete review.  This secret agent comedy/thriller was part parody, all light, escapist summer flick.  Fun and enjoyable, it debuted on Wednesday.  Again, read my complete review.

THREE REAGANS
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*  “Grown Ups“:  Don’t let the title fool ya.  This was more like, an immature, spoiled, middle-aged actor/comedian who has never grown up–Adam Sandler–deciding he wanted to have a fun vacation on a lake with four of his fellow, middle-aged, spoiled overpaid, immature, unfunny comedian/actor friends–David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider–and write it off on his taxes by making a stupid movie at the same time.

This year’s version of “Wild Hogs” (read my review), this movie was long, disgusting, vulgar, and filled with dumb bathroom and sex jokes.  Oy vey.  Simply awful.  Not funny, not entertaining, very bad acting, hated it more than words can say.  Gross, dumb, and an utter waste of two hours of your life you’ll never get back.

The “story”–and I really don’t think their was one:  five former school basketball champions are grown up when they learn their coach passed away.  They all come home, along with their wives and families, for the funeral and to spend a few days in the old lake house, which they’ve rented in town.  Sandler is a superagent in Hollywood who lives in a mansion, has spoiled kids, a nanny, and a beautiful wife (Salma Hayek) who is a clothing designer.

The others are mostly losers.  Chris Rock is an out-of -work stay-at-home dad/ Mr. Mom with a pregnant wife and a mother-in-law who seems to be a walking racist stereotype of old Black mother-in-laws (yes, liberal Hollywood is extremely racist), who constantly farts.  That’s funny?  David Spade is still chasing women and lives in a trailer that looks like the White Snake fan club interior decorating project.  Kevin James is, well, Kevin James.  Who cares?  I didn’t.  He was slapped into the movie, like everything else.  Rob Schneider is a new age hippie who is on his fourth marriage to an old woman.

Together, these jerks and their kids stay at the house on the lake and have fun.  The end.  Sooo boring, sooooo pointless.  Sooooo awful.  I just can’t impress upon you in words just how absolutely bad this movie truly is.  Skip at all cost.  Yuck. Absolutely nothin’ grown up about this movie. It’s an IQ test. If you like it, you’re a moron.

FOUR MARXES PLUS AN ADAM SANDLER ZOHAN
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Solitary Man“:  While this movie is the most depressing movie I’ve seen since I can remember, it’s well done, and Michael Douglas is stellar, as usual.  This really should have been “Wall Street 2,” because it’s kind of what happens on the other side.

Douglas plays a former car dealership magnate, who is something of a cad, a scammer, a womanizer, and down and out on his luck.  He lost everything because he committed car loan fraud, paid a huge fine, and is now trying to make a comeback.  But he’s the same old scammer, constantly aiming for ever younger women, borrowing money from his adult daughter and her husband, missing important family events–you know the type.  He’s this close to making a comeback–this close–but he blows it all because he can’t become the person he should be, cannot grow up and be in control of his impulses, rather than a mindless slave to them.

Douglas visits his college alma mater, where the library is named for him, after he gave them millions.  But now he has nothing.  It’s embarrassing.  He’s on the cusp of getting it all back–the cusp–but he throws it all away.  And even in being forced to live humbly, he still can’t get it right.

This high-styled arthouse film is entertaining, well acted, and keeps your interest throughout.  But–like I said–extremely depressing.  It’s about a pathetic person who won’t grow up. Not a feel good movie.  But one with a good message:  Don’t F— it up!  Definitely not for kids.  This is a very grown up movie, with mature themes of life, love, sex, and–above all–loss.

TWO REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Joan Rivers:  A Piece of Work“:  In 1999, I was on ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” with Joan Rivers.  Together, she and I ganged up on and kicked the ass of Alan Dershowitz on topics from the O.J. Simpson trial to the Clinton impeachment, etc.  Rivers was funny, smart, nice, friendly, engaging, and quick.  I liked her, and she and I talked quite a bit.  She was classy and dignified. It was around the time of the Jewish holidays, and we wished each other, “Shanah Tovah” [Happy New Year, a greeting for Rosh HaShanah].

But that was a completely different Joan Rivers–with a completely different face–than the one in this documentary, taped mostly last year.  I expected I would like this movie, just as I liked Rivers when I met her.  Not the case.  Not even close.  The Joan Rivers in this flick is mean, disgusting, crass, vulgar, self-centered, selfish, and annoying.  She has class, all right. Low class. And it’s not fun to watch.

The most annoying parts of this movie are the constant close-ups of her plastic surgery clown face.  It’s awful–a cross between The Joker and a lion face.  If ever there was a commercial for growing old gracefully, this is it.  Eeuuww.  By the end of the movie, I just couldn’t bear looking at her cartoonish visage anymore. Ironically, the poster for this movie bears Rivers’ old facial profile, no longer recognizable or even in existence, replaced by an overly-inflated maxilla region and weirdly flattened, too tiny, reconstructed nose. It’s grotesque, especially close up.

And on top of that were her disgusting, unfunny jokes.  This woman is clearly still floating on the air of her name, not talent.  Her apartment, which plays a co-starring role in the film, is so gaudy, I thought I was at Saddam Hussein’s Palace, the Manhattan branch.  Ugly.  And just as ugly is when Rivers starts heckling the father of a deaf kid at her show at a Wisconsin casino.  The whole thing is set up with her constant berating of small town America on the way to the show.  Talk about tacky and unduly snobby.  True, the man shouldn’t have come to a Rivers show.  That’s her “humor”–saying she hates kids and the only kind she wants is a deaf and dumb one like Helen Keller, so she won’t have to hear the kid.  And her assault on the man and then switch to 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden was tackier yet.

And speaking of deaf and dumb kids, Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, sadly, does not fit into that category.  And we have to hear Joan and Melissa Rivers whining, cackling, and otherwise yapping in annoying cadence about their treatment on Donald Trump’s annoying reality show, NBC’s “The Apprentice.”  We meet Rivers’ manager, and mid-way through, we’re told she had to fire him.  She never says why, and it’s kind of pointless to tease us, then gloss over it, as if we know the inside baseball in a movie that’s supposed to show us the inside baseball of Joan Rivers’ life.

At 75, Rivers constantly reminds us how old she is and is obsessed with her age and that it makes her worthless in show biz. But what she doesn’t seem to get, showbiz aside, is that the most unattractive thing about her isn’t age or wrinkles she’s stretched out and botoxed to death. Monologues filled with c- and p-words–her standard, these days, according to the documentary–don’t make you funny. They don’t make you hip. They don’t make you edgy or “young.” Just unappealing and lame.

I really liked Joan Rivers after meeting her, pre-clown face and pre-atrocious persona.  But this new version, this filthy movie and shameless person, lost me entirely.  What a turn-off.  “A Piece of Work,” indeed.  And not in a good way.

THREE MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

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23 Responses

What a shame. Perhaps I’ll dig out my ancient tapes of Joan in the mid to late 90s. She was so funny back then. Now, she looks like a cat.

cirrus1701 on June 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Joan Rivers was a real b*tch on Celebrity Apprentice. I didn’t think she deserved to win it.

Norman Blitzer on June 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm

‘Grown Ups’, five of my least liked ‘actors(?)’ all in one movie? I think I see the silver lining here. Maybe it kept them from putting out any crud individually this summer which means only one movie to avoid instad of five, Thanks Guys! Now if ALL the bottom feeders in Hollyweird would get together and just stick to one lame-ass project per year…sigh…what a wonderfull world it would be!

theShadow on June 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

I was entertained by Solitary Man, too, as character-driven drama with an interesting story. I’m not for a moment deceived, though, about the movie’s liberal-progressive intentions. Michael Douglas has made a career out of playing engaging conservatives who ultimately fail; that’s the way ambitious progressives like Soderbergh (who had a hand in Solitary Man) can “teach” us conservatives the folly of our “inferior” choices and morals. In Falling Down, for example, Douglas played an angry blue collar conservative type; in Wall Street he played a diehard capitalistic tycoon Gecko. Douglas played Gecko so engagingly that for some he became a hero, just as for some conservatives Archie Bunker became a hero. But the underlying purpose of All in the Family was to ridicule blue collar types, and the underlying purpose of Solitary Man is to teach us that greed and selfish lust are tragic with the implication that if we only turned to the New Age altruism of liberal-fascism, we’d “mature” and be saved.

These movies that don’t directly and obviously demonize conservatives but rather indirectly show the failure of their iconically portrayed heroes are a type of sneaky Trojan Horse liberalism that has a powerful cumulative effect, just as there’s a cumulative effect to watching scores of films where the CIA and corporate CEOs are the villains. Another good example of this kind of Trojan Horse liberalism was last year’s Up in the Air with George Clooney, where the whole point of the film was to create an engaging character whom we liked and then tie his failure to achieve happiness to the supposed loneliness and heartlessness of capitalism.

Burke on June 26, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Seriously? 4 Marx for Grown Ups? Looks like someone forgot how to have a little fun. It’s really the funnist Sandler movie in years. I’d be glad to drop another 8 bucks on it. But don’t write it off as pointless boring and unfunny when I’m sure a lot of your audience would still like it.

    Denver on June 26, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Agree with your general assessment, however, in Fallin Down, he played an engineer (not a blue colar type) who was laid off from a defense contractor.

    Chris on June 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

HELLO HATS OFF TO “burke” and your assessment of how hollywood likes to stick it to the conservative viewpoint — you are spot on and i enjoyed hearing such a brilliant summation. Thank you so much. Really says it all doesn’t it!!!

SUZE MARKS on June 26, 2010 at 11:19 am

Four more films I won’t be watching anytime soon. Knight & Day looks fun, but I cannot stand either star. Cruise smiles his way through movies and Cameron smiles, giggles and flips her blond hair (they both must own stock in some dental whiting products that they use A LOT). Their acts are tired, old and boring. I can wait the 5 months until is shows up in Red Box at Walmart and pay only 1% of the original movie ticket price.

I cannot stand Adam Sandler and the rest of these morons with their 6 year old bathroom and fart jokes. It might have been funny in the first grade, it’s not anymore, I’ve grown up, why don’t they do as well. The last movies that Sandler made that actually made me laugh was probably “Big Daddy” The Wedding Singer” and 50 First Dates.” We get it, he likes to hang out and make movies with his friends, whom appear in almost every movie he makes Rob Schneider, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Jonathan Loughran and Blake Clark in all of his lame comedies. He gets to employ his friends. The fact Sandler got $25 million for this turkey is amazing. Middle aged juveniles that never got out of the bathroom is something I really don’t want to put my money on. Sorry fellas, this girl is staying home.

Cannot stand Michael Douglas or Joan Rivers (or her daughter Melissa). All show-biz phonies.

Ireland on June 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Adam Sandler movies are ALWAYS stupid, until the grosses come in.

Joan Rivers was hilarious from the first time i saw her on Ed Sullivan..and you sound like one of those OLD FOGEYS who would’ve crucified Lenny Bruce AGAIN if he came back from the grave–although your outrage and what’s common language in NYC kind of reminds me of Holden Caulfield’s reaction to seeing F U written on the wall of his sister’s elementary school.

EminemsRevenge on June 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Debbie is an excellent reviewer because she guides me to do the exact opposite of her opinion on movies. Here’s the scoop:

Knight: dull drivel. Cruise and Diaz are se;f-congratulatory and annoying. Walked out after 20 minutes.

Solitary: Douglas looks more like a woman the older he gets. He’s been playing the same character his entire life except for his forced, cartoonish “acting” in “FallingDown.” This movie is excruciatingly boring 2 hour commercial for Douglas’ “acting chops.” The only thin that made me depressed was wasting 10 bucks and 2 hours of my life on this tripe.

Sandler: Good, raunchy, juveneille fun. Excatly what you expect, pay for and Sandler delivers.

Didn’t see Joan Rivers yet.

DS_ROCKS! on June 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Burke: good synopsis of the subversive message of most Hollywood fare, but it’s not as insidious as that. In order to dumb-down the message for broadest appeal, they club you over the head with the message. In “Falling Down” the overt villains were the gay, neo-nazi survivalist/rapist, the main character who was a criininal, depressed, deluded, deadbeat dad and the hero was the latina detective who was the only intelligent and conscientious charcter who managed to keep her hands clean throughoyt by even making the Duval charcter be the one who guns down Douglas. Even portraying Duval as an on-his-way-out remnant of the old, white, unscupulous/fragile hierarchy is beyond mere allegory.

The experiments such as having Denzel Washington playing a “bad guy” is an exercise in insidiousness by “showing” us that post-racial Hollywood is so hip that it is truly “colorblind” and its not their fault that the rest of the schlubs in Amercia aren’t ready to accept a serious black hero unless accompanied by a palatable white “buddy” and definitely not ready to accept a black villain.

DS_ROCKS! on June 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Thanks for reminding me about Solitary Man. On my list for this week

Brian Cuban on June 26, 2010 at 11:44 pm

The Joan Rivers doc was brilliant. I think you missed the point–Rivers allowed her many flaws to show, and while you may not have like her, it was never dull. An excellent insight into the life and career of a very driven woman. It’s not necessary that you come out of it admiring her, but you get a bit of a better idea of what makes her tick. For me, it was time well spent.

maatkare on June 27, 2010 at 12:01 am

That’s her “humor”–saying she hates kids and the only kind she wants is a deaf and dumb one like Helen Keller, so she won’t have to hear the kid.

That sentence alone is so tacky, you could post “Lost Dog-Reward” notices on every community bulletin board in America with it.

Two things off-topic: The 17th of Tammuz is coming up. I wish all the religious Jews, who will be fasting, an easy one.

The reference to The Joker reminded me: I’m a sucker for Shirley Temple. If you’re a sucker for Shirley Temple, and if, like me, you grew up on “Batman” and The Joker and you think you would enjoy seeing Cesar Romero in a sympathetic role, rent the DVD of THE LITTLE PRINCESS. You’ll love it.

Miranda Rose Smith on June 27, 2010 at 4:20 am

Completely off topic, but the National Post has an excellent photo gallery of the crazed left wing protests in Toranto.

http://www.nationalpost.com/multimedia/photos/gallery/index.html?id=3201093

pat on June 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Debbie…I have to agree with some of these posts about “Grown-ups”…WHAT DID YOU EXPECT GOING IN??

OF COURSE it was going to be about 5 losers acting immature and full of bathroom humor, and stupid silly site gags!

I can’t believe you expect an Adam Sandler flick to be anything more than basic infantial, male-teenage humor…

He delivers EXACTLY what the public wants from him…and THAT’S why he’s paid the big bucks.

Dave on June 28, 2010 at 2:28 am

“The “story”–and I really don’t think their was one: five former school basketball champions are grown up when they learn their coach passed away.”

As soon as I read that I knew the Sandler movie is a dog. Uh, yeah, righhhhhhht, I really believe those white guys and Little Penny Rock could have ever been championship basketballers.

Not every Sandler movie is stupid and full of bathroom humor.

“The Wedding Singer” is one of my all time favorite movies, very funny and full of heart.

“The Waterboy” was very funny, too.

Sandler is following the Washed Up Comic Actors playbook. Ever notice how washed up comic actors put out movies with an ensemble? Ben Stiller does it, and “Wild Hogs” La Deb mentioned.

Jeff_W on June 28, 2010 at 9:46 am

Wow!

I saw Knight and Day and laughed the whole time. Well worth $5!

As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 28, 2010 at 11:38 am

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