Directed By: Barry Odom
Starring: Kelly Bryant, Tyler Badie, Nick Bolton, Barry Odom
Synopsis: A familiar cast of faces with a recent track record of failure decides to run it back once more... and whatever you think happens is exactly what happens.
I’ll bet you didn’t realize it, but Adam Sandler was in the press box for Mizzou’s latest outing. Of course, there’s no evidence of this, but it makes too much sense when you consider Barry Odom and crew’s eleventh production of the 2019 season.
After all, we’ve known what to expect from both Mizzou and Adam Sandler for a long time. There’s that feeling of crushing disappointment followed by a period of forgetful bliss. Then there’s the run up to another feature presentation and, surprisingly enough, some sort of hope? After all, you’ve seen it work before — and when it does, it’s pretty special.
Then you actually get to the film and you start to think, “I knew this was coming, I knew this was coming, why did I ALLOW MYSELF TO SIT THROUGH THIS???”
Such is the case with Grown Ups, Missouri’s fifth straight dud in the 2019 season. Despite a run of abject failure, Barry Odom and his crew decides to run it back with the exact same cast of characters, hoping to spark something that clearly went out a long time ago.
Initially there’s some positive momentum — Ryan Walters’ work as Director of Defense continues to stand out amongst a lost season, as does the work of standouts like Jordan Elliott and Nick Bolton. There even seems to be some newfound chemistry amongst Derek Dooley’s and his revolving cast of characters. Kelly Bryant appears to find some on-screen magic with scene partners like Tyler Badie and Barrett Bannister while Larry Rountree III discovers some of the brute force energy he had in earlier outings.
However, its only a matter of time until the limited magic runs out. Much like some of the more recent Missouri productions, things get sloppy really quick. There’s a lack of structure and discipline to the on-screen product that has the feeling of a panic job — like the cast and crew can feel the walls closing in on them. Instead of channeling that energy into something more productive and fiery, the frustration bubbles up in all the wrong ways. This stilts what momentum the production does have, eventually stalling it out just long enough to lose any hope that existed in the first place.
The very worst part about Grown Ups, though, is knowing how it’s going to end looooooooong before it does. There’s an inevitability to it very early on that keeps you around out of morbid curiosity, even while you know that what follows will be severely unpleasant. Maybe it’s the memory of better times or maybe it’s the need to see it through to the end. Either way, there’s no enjoyment — just pain.
Thankfully, we’ve arrived at the bitter end. There’s only one more scheduled film on this year’s slate, and it comes right in the midst of one of the most distractible times of the year for audiences. Maybe there’s a way for Barry Odom’s Tigers to cook up enough chemistry to end 2019 with some B-movie grind house energy — ugly and altogether repulsive, but enjoyable on some level, nonetheless.
In the meantime, we’ll all just sit here and try to remember better days — when Adam Sandler was fighting with Bob Barker and Cale Garrett was running pick-sixes back into the end zone.