Sandler Sinks Even Lower with That's My Boy
- Friday, June 15, 2012
DVD Release Date: October 16, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: June 15, 2012
Rating: R (for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use)
Run Time: 116 min.
Director: Sean Anders
Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, James Caan, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Orlando, Will Forte, Rachel Dratch
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following review contains discussion of mature subject matter. Parents please be advised.
When an Adam Sandler movie lives up to expectations it’s not a good thing. That’s My Boy does that and then some, plunging not only to new depths of witless stupidity but out-and-out depravity. This is Sandler’s raunchiest entry to date (which is saying something when you consider a few of his past hard-R flicks), reveling in it with such juvenile jolly that something becomes abundantly clear: this (and things like it) is why the terrorists hate us. And I’m not even joking.
Sandler doesn’t deserve a jihad for what he often dumps onto our culture but he certainly doesn’t deserve our money or time either. That he often gets both (and likely will here again) is pretty depressing, actually; even if you set moral offensiveness aside (which works on a relative scale) it’s a bit soul-sucking to acknowledge that his output of idiocy has such mass appeal.
His box office numbers themselves should be considered a sign of the apocalypse—and I say that as a person who often found his absurd sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live to be smart, subversive, and on occasion borderline genius. Sandler’s films, on the other hand (specifically those he writes, produces and stars in), are embarrassments of laziness. He’s not a comedian, he’s a goof—one who doesn’t seem to care enough to try.
As with many Sandler comedies, That’s My Boy starts with an interesting hook: Adam Sandler is fellow SNL alum Andy Samberg’s dad. Given the similar roles each filled for different generations on NBC’s iconic TV show, that’s a great idea—but the appeal stops in concept only as, right from the get-go, the actual reality of that concept tests the limits of what’s funny. Samberg’s Todd Peterson is the illegitimate son of Sandler’s Donny Berger who, while early in high school, had an ongoing affair with the hot teacher (which drew audible gasps and ewwwws of disgust in my preview audience).
She gets pregnant and is sent to jail for the maximum thirty years, Donny names the boy Han Solo and raises him as poorly as any person who refuses to grow up would, and once Han turns eighteen he moves on, changes his name to something normal, and refuses to see his father ever again. Complicating Todd’s ability to start over is the level of fame Donny reached when the statutory rape scandal broke back in the 1980s.
Donny was an instant tabloid celebrity and rode that fame as far as he could. Now he’s broke and will go to jail if he doesn’t pay over $40,000 in back taxes. When he looks to stage a “family reunion” for a daytime talk show that’ll pay him the 40 G’s and then some, the estranged Donny must maneuver his way back into Todd’s life on the very week leading up to Todd’s wedding. That’s a difficult task, to be sure, but nothing a lot of bachelor party bonding can’t apparently fix.
It’s an over-complicated contrivance that’s set up for no other reason than to do what Sandler movies normally do: have Adam play the loveable loser, someone who’s a screw-up and down on his luck, with the ability to charm others even as he embarrasses those closest to him. That’s exactly what Donny does to Todd even as Todd’s future in-laws find Donny’s crude but lively and sincere bravado endearing.
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