That’s My Boy
Directed by: Sean Anders
Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Will Forte, Vanilla Ice
Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins
Release Date: June 15, 2012
PLOT: A man-child (Sandler) who earned teen fame in the 80s for having sex with his teacher tries to win back the love of his estranged son Han Solo (Samberg).
WHO’S IT FOR? Though this is an R-rated movie from Sandler, its humor isn’t for human beings much older than the kids who were tickled stupid by last year’s apocalyptic Jack and Jill. Will the 13-year-olds who sneak into That’s My Boy even get 90% of its many references?
EXPECTATIONS: I was relieved to see that Sandler’s go-to auteur Dennis Duggan wasn’t directing this one, but instead it was Sean Anders, formerly of the surprising Sex Drive. Perhaps he would be able to do something with Sandler that we haven’t seen in many years? At the very least, will the product placement be less disgusting?
Adam Sandler as Donny Berger: Providing a fantastical take on our fascination with teen moms, Donny is a “teen dad” who never matures from the moment his son is conceived/when he becomes a hero to young men everywhere who pine for their hot teachers. This amusing younger version (Justin Weaver) of this character who lives a dream soon becomes a nightmare when Sandler inherits him, with his weak caricature of a Boston citizen in tow. Sandler’s Donny is a slobby man-child stuck in the 80s, and is never able to make us laugh despite his many crude (“shocking”) characteristics. The character of Donny allows Sandler to try to shock his audience back into liking him again, throwing out a lot of cuss words as if they helped him breathe. Sandler has literally taken a childish approach to re-gain the attention of people who tuned him out in the comedic schoolyard years ago. And fo-ah the rekahd, Sean Penn’s accent in Mystic River is much, much funnier than Sandler’s.
Andy Samberg as Han Solo/Todd Peterson: Though he plays plenty of goofballs in movies like Hot Rod or formerly on “Saturday Night Live,” Samberg is here to play the straight man, who is trying to contain his freakish past to represent whatever is accepted as “normal.” In this freakshow of a movie, he is the person having the most problem doing that. Considering that any “Digital Short” Samberg has done is funnier than anything Adam Sandler has slapped together in the past four films, it is disappointing to see him squeezed into a non-funny opposite to the also “SNL” alum, meant to serve up facial reactions whenever Sandler does something stupid.
Leighton Meester as Jamie: A mental clap or two for the “Gossip Girl” star for playing ball with the extremely weird humor of this movie, which turns her from generic girlfriend to “OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU JUST DO” girl. If everything else doesn’t make you feel dirty about witnessing That’s My Boy, Meester eventually will.
Rest of Cast: Sandler arranges a mini-“Saturday Night Live” cast reunion with That’s My Boy, using not just now-alum Samberg but also Will Forte, Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer. None of them are put to any use; it’s funnier to imagine how other stars of the show must have aggressively turned down an appearance in this movie. Vanilla Ice appears in a role that pokes into the script with a cameo’s randomness, but evolves into a recurring side character. With a funny line related to the royalties of “Ice Ice Baby” and a scene in which he runs with a Walkman, this true has-been, (well, moreso than Sandler himself) aware of his silly nostalgic concept, might actually be the funniest person of this movie. That’s how bad That’s My Boy is.
TALKING: Like someone after first discovering the shocking potential of a swear word, That’s My Boy is full of characters making cuss-filled outbursts that are loud and unwarranted. The commercial whoredom of Sandler reaches a new low when he tries to reinstate a company’s catchphrase by making it sound like a lost pop culture gem.
SIGHTS: Very proud of its “R” for “Raunchy” rating, That’s My Boy doesn’t skimp on showing the gross stuff, from various body fluids to people you would probably rather not see naked. Though this movie doesn’t have the Hollywood studio gloss of a movie like Jack and Jill, it does feature equally slutty product placements, from one prominently featured beer company in particular.
SOUNDS: The That’s My Boy soundtrack is constructed of a variety of 80s songs, by bands like Foreigner or Metallica. Though the movie does mention Van Halen, and feature some tunes by the band, the very appropriate song “Hot for Teacher” is nowhere to be heard, a missed opportunity like Battleship being too stubborn to say “You sunk my battleship!”
BEST SCENE: I laughed when Vanilla Ice says, “Queen took 50%, Suge Knight took 60%; I gotta pay people when they play that sh*t!”
ENDING: So, what are the chances of someone like Tubby Tuke actually winning the marathon? They have to be even higher than in the movie, right?
QUESTIONS: My head was spinning with meta possibilities after seeing this one. Is Adam Sandler recognizing that he’s been a piece of sh*t lately, and is trying to win back his older fans? And most importantly, who believes that a man like Andy Samberg would ever be able to get a girl like Leighton Meester? I take it personal if he couldn’t actually pull that off in reality.
REWATCHABILITY: I would only watch this again to study Sandler, and try to figure out where it all went wrong. Or really, where it continues to go wrong.
Even as a comedy that doesn’t care to make sense (it wears its inanity with pride, which is fine), it can’t even sell its taste for random humor. All of the movie’s jokes toy with gag concepts that are being completely outdated – maybe if these types of crude jokes weren’t weakened by their constant use in countless other sex comedies, they would actually be able to garner a laugh, or actually shock viewers. Instead, it’s ho-hum raunch, where everything is superfluous; That’s My Boy just piles on stupid crap on top of stupid crap, hoping you’ll somehow be affected by gazing upon its towering randomness.
The movie’s thudding humor, whether awkward or despairing, simply leaves you feeling gross. We’re not experiencing a triumph or refreshing change of pace with Sandler, but instead watching a loser wallowing in circles in his own filth as he struggles with a personal crisis of worth to other people (outside of financial numbers, of course). That’s My Boy is unenjoyable, uncomfortable, and simply unfunny in the way that sex comedies aren’t meant to be.
The newest terrible comedy from Adam Sandler, this is the most obnoxious kind of delinquent — it is equally disgusting and desperate.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10