There are those that feel no male can be faithful to his wife or chosen love. It goes against the very fabric of the primitive male soul. According to this way of thinking, men were made to reproduce and get it on with as many women as possible for the common good of an improved population. Plus there’s the fact that most men are walking hard-ons.
If “Grownups” would have stuck with these ideas…or similar ones, maybe it would have succeeded as a film. Instead we’re asked to play along with this not-so-clever look at how to get your best friend to swap wives with you for a night. In fact, I think the word “swap” is used about a hundred times in the first 45 minutes of this film.
Eric (Daniel London) and Steve (John Stamos) have been best friends since they were kids. It shows because Eric can freely mention swapping wives at every gathering of the buddies and their wives Ami (Meredith Salenger) and Clair (Tara Westwood). Now, I’m a married man and the mere thought of any of my close friends waxing on (or off) about how they want to bag my wife would make my skin crawl. I know this is a lifestyle choice for many people and maybe I’m just insecure, but there’s a line that you don’t cross with friends. That line includes screwing each other’s wives.
The premise of “Grownups” is this; mopey man-child Eric needs a little pizzazz in his life. He isn’t allowed to get a motorcycle and is unable to find a spark so he and Steve decide that one last night of gratuitous, meaningless sex with each other’s wives will provide some excitement and some closure on their unfulfilled adolescence. Honestly, I never knew what Steve’s motivation was, other than to nail Eric’s wife for fun.
At this point, “Grownups” is still a bit sketchy, but all is not lost. If the men can successfully find a way to convince the women to swap (there’s that word again!), or if it’s funny, the movie works. It really doesn’t succeed on either level.
Eric pouts and whines like a put out high schooler asked to do chores while Steve (well played by Stamos) basically thinks it’s OK for this uber-dweeb to doink his hottie wife.
For this plot to work, we have to believe the characters and their motivations or see how truly lame their ideas are. Instead “Grownups” comes across like an adolescent male fantasy or a Penthouse Forum letter, which ironically is shown being read in the beginning of the film. And we all know those letters aren’t true…unless you’ve had an experience that suddenly changed your mind.
Another problem is the fact that both Ami and Clair are totally gorgeous! Eric’s pasty white skin and sad-sack attitude throw the wrench into the plot because what woman would want him and what woman coupled with him wouldn’t want Stamos instead? In fact, Eric really has no redemptive qualities at all, thus the true issue here is Eric and Ami’s marriage. It’s a nightmare! Both characters clearly want something else from the relationship and the “sacrifice” each makes doesn’t jive at all.
“Grownups” shifts into gear with a great plot twist at the outset of act three but by then, it’s just too late. Sure, the premise of “Grownups” is intriguing and current and I totally understand that the characters’ need to realize they are now “Grownups” and have to come to terms with that. But I just needed more from this film. Maybe I’ll swap it with another film and my feelings will suddenly change.