TITLE: That’s My Boy
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Susan Sarandon, Milo Ventimiglia
DIRECTOR: Sean Anders
STUDIOS: Columbia Pictures, Happy Madison Productions, Relativity Media
RUN TIME: 114 min
RELEASED: June 15, 2012
By Justin Polak
Co-founder, Ambassdor to the Mushroom Kingdom
Sometimes the most interesting part of going to a movie theater watching the audience reaction along with the film itself. It doesn’t matter if the experience is good or bad, I like to see how the room is doing. Granted, in my Jack and Jill review, I talked about how I wanted to fight every single person in the theater for laughing, but still.
Thanks to my car being out of commission along with minor health issues, I regrettably had to postpone seeing Adam Sandler’s newest attempted rape of the comedy genre, That’s My Boy. I really should have taken those two issues as a warning sign. I can imagine it now: “Justin,” a higher power speaks, “Jack and Jill was more than enough! Save yourself while you still can!”
If my personal troubles were signs to stay away from the movie, then maybe I should have listened. Before I get into that, though, I’ll come right out and say it: That’s My Boy wasn’t as bad as Jack and Jill. Sandler played it safe this time by going back to his bootleg, poor man’s Rodney Dangerfield-like slacker hero bullshit we all have seen since the fucking ’90s. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is still like asking Adam Sandler to perform a simple task and watch him screw it up every step of the way. Say you asked him to serve you a drink, and instead he pisses on your favorite shirt while shitting all over your cat. It’s kind of in that general direction.
I should have listened to all the signs, because I was provided with one of the eeriest theater experiences in my life. I found it strange that a lone teenage boy, a mid-40′s male and three teenage girls were the only traces of humanity within my proximity. The teen boy looked as if I just caught him jerking off the second I walked in the theater. The older man kept getting up and pacing throughout the film, debating on leaving I imagine. The three teenage girls were presumably on their smart phones, only half paying attention to the movie. What made this weird to me is that — including me — there were six people in a theater…and it was clear that no one wanted to be there. Hey, I have my excuse. I am reviewing the damn thing! The only theory I had is that maybe the theater staff let someone else see the movie alone and he shot himself to put an end to his misery. They didn’t want more brain matter to clean up. Maybe all those people were decoys sent in to watch me?
I suppose I should stop delaying the inevitable and actually talk about the film itself…
Within the first couple of minutes, you get to see a kid hide his boner. That’s something I got to check off my to-do list when I got up this morning. Why did I see that, you ask? Well, a young student named Donny Berger ends up having a relationship with his hot, boner-inducing teacher. They — of course — get busted and she goes off to prison. But HOLD THE PHONE HERE! She was also pregnant with Donny’s child!
That child grows up to be…Andy Samberg. Actually, Samberg plays Donny’s kid Han Solo Berger. That’s not the booze writing for me. That’s the character’s name. Only the kicker here is that Donny’s celebrity life, thanks to technically getting raped by a teacher (I guess that’s how it works now) has driven Han to hide his identity by adopting the false name Todd Peterson all the while claiming his parents got killed.
However, Donny finds himself in the same place as many child celebrities: flat out broke and owing tons of money to the IRS. If he doesn’t find a way to get the cash in a week, it’s off to jail for him! If Donny can find a way to trick his kid into going to visit his mother in prison for a reality TV stunt, he’ll get the money and resume being a burnt out failure! Everybody loses!
I know that comedies — especially ones of this nature — aren’t supposed to be some visceral experience that will challenge you, but the predictability was off the charts here. I actually thought I had seen this movie before (and in a way I guess I have, since this is an Adam Sandler comedy). An older woman seems slightly sexually interested in Donny — boom — implied sex occurs. Han Solo Berger’s fiance acts like a bitch — boom — they don’t end up together. Donny brings up memories that annoy and embarrass Han — boom — he embraces his father for the flawed but fun guy that he is! Then of course: minor event that seems like a throwaway joke near the beginning of the film — boom — what do you know, the throwaway joke saves the day at the end!
Even Adam Sandler didn’t seem to be enjoying himself this time. As much as I hated Jack and Jill, I could tell that he was at least having a good time behind the scenes goofing around and treating the shoot like a vacation. Here, Adam Sandler’s character is constantly drinking, and while I am sure it is meant to be one of the many overplayed running gags, I am almost positive Happy Gilmore himself was drunk out of his mind. This film wasn’t shot too long after Jack and Jill got eviscerated by critics. Like a dog that got caught peeing on the living room rug, he knows what he did! America slammed its rolled up newspaper on Sandler’s nose, and his guilty look melted right through the screen. You can even see the beer mist spring forth out of his can during some scenes. Or, as this terrible thought just entered my head, they actually paid someone to add CGI alcohol condensation. That’s worse than anything the Transformers franchise could ever hope to accomplish.
The worst part of this film is how unrealistic they made an already unrealistic situation. Remember how I implied earlier how I feel these movies are a riff on the stereotypical Rodney Dangerfield film? In Dangerfield’s movies, he typically played an edgy individual that didn’t mix in with the upper class crowd, or didn’t fit in at all. Sandler tries to do the same thing with the Donny Berger character, but he skips the part where he has to win over the company around him. Only his own son, that has everyone believing that Donny is simply a good friend, tries to distance himself from the man at first. Younger ladies are still fawning all over Donny in the hot tub, he doesn’t offend rich/successful people while acting like a jackass and even the most uptight people are quick to accept Donny’s party hard lifestyle. I can’t believe I am thinking this hard about fucking That’s My Boy, but it begs the question on why Donny has hit hard times in the first place. The main obstacle in the movie is destroyed because of how accepting people are of this character. I suppose it truly takes talent to fuck up this kind of archetypical character. Yet at the same time Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges appear as themselves, poking fun at the whole ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ cycle that the modern celebrity has evolved into in most situations. I can hear my brain cells screaming in pain as they are vaporized from existence trying to put thought into this whole movie.
Most jokes fall flatter than a 400lb man doing shots of Everclear when Adam Sandler says a line louder than an indoor voice. It was as if he studied the worst Saturday Night Live sketches for months preparing jokes that tried too hard, had poor timing, forced acting, etc. You know the drill. There were countless pauses for laughter too. It got to the point where I was expecting a laugh track.
You know what Adam Sandler could have done and accomplished the same thing? He, his friends, and SNL could’ve simply got together in one room while farting in each others faces. Throw in a few alligators in the room for some physical comedy. Have a few of the writers smoke some weed. Also, make sure they have some strippers doing things that they normally wouldn’t do, like talk about stocks and bonds. Have random celebrities (mostly has-beens) appear randomly in the room to collect a paycheck. Perform many more crazy antics in this room and keep the cameras rolling. Edit the film down to an hour and a half. That way Adam Sandler and company won’t have to pretend like they are making a film anymore!
RATING: Thoroughly Depressed/10
All images from rottentomatoes.com.