[Review] – That’s My Boy

24 Jun

Title: That’s My Boy
Year: 2012
Director: Sean Anders
Writer: David Caspe
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Susan Sarandon
MPAA Rating: R, crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use
Runtime: 116 min
IMDb Rating: 4.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 22%
Metacritic: 30

Oh, Adam Sandler. You were responsible for what was to me the second worst film of all 2011, Jack and Jill, one of only two I gave a D- to (there’s been three of those already this year), a film that got you four Razzie Awards, including Worst Actor and Worst Actress, and that was the first in the history of that infamous awards show to earn the dubious honor of sweeping all of its nominations. That film made me so mad that you had become such a shameless kind of entertainer, a guy who would dress in drag to play his own sister alongside himself in a PG-rated movie, the kind of film that’s centered on a single joke that would make even an eight-minute SNL skit seem frustrating, one that was blatantly made to make money and to have roles for all your buddies in it so that they could make money too.

Jack and Jill, however, didn’t even recoup its $79 million budget with the domestic receipts (it made less than $75 million stateside). The mild disappointment of that film paved the way for the huge one that this one’s turning out to be, and it’s making one thing painfully clear for Mr. Sandler: people are finally getting tired of his schtick. This is a guy that for ages has been one of the most consistent players in Hollywood, releasing at least a movie a year for the past decade, and even though most of those films were critically mutilated, they still made a killing at the box office, most opening north of the $30 million mark, with people flocking to see Mr. Sandler play a manchild.

It seems, however, that the formula that had worked so well, and that had made Mr. Sandler so wealthy since he’s also a producer of his movies, is quickly going kaput. Jack and Jill was the first one of his live-action comedies that missed the $100 million mark domestically since Little Nicky all the way back in 2000. And That’s My Boy opened last weekend to a disappointing $13 million, the lowest opening weekend total for a live-action comedy of his since Happy Gilmore, which was back in 1996. So for Mr. Sandler it seems pretty clear that the times are a-changin’, though he’s filming Grown Ups 2 right now so it’s not as though he’s changing with them.

Anyways, back to the movie at hand. That’s My Boy is far different to Jack and Jill in at least two ways, there’s no Adam Sandler in drag, and it carries an R rating, which is the first live-action comedy of his ever to do so (I’m not counting his dramedies like Funny People or Punch-Drunk Love here, mostly because those weren’t produced by him and aren’t the typical Adam Sandler films, and I like the former and absolutely love the latter). But even if the liberating R rating did mean Mr. Sandler could go for more raunchy stuff here, the film still feels awfully repetitive of all the other Adam Sandler films, and this one probably would have fared better at the box office had he played it safe with a PG-13.

This time he’s also dragging Andy Samberg along with him, as he plays his son. This pairing, by the way, obviously seems like the most logical move to make. They were both nurtured in the SNL family, they are both perceived as men-child, they look kind of alike, and, hell, even their names are damn similar. Too bad for Mr. Samberg that he paired up with Mr. Sandler at a time in which he’s making such useless and tasteless, and in the case of this one, vulgar films.

In That’s My Boy Mr. Sandler is Donny, a guy who as a pre-teen had an affair with his much older teacher, and fathered a son, Todd, with her, though she was sent to prison for thirty years for engaging in the affair, and Donny had to raise Todd all by himself until his son turned 18. Now a grown-up, Todd hasn’t seen his father in years, mad about how incompetent a parent he was to him, having changed his name (he was originally named Han Solo), saying that his parents died in an accident, having become a successful businessman and being engaged to a wealthy and pretty young lady played by Leighton Meester.

That is until Donny, who’s only spending time slacking away in strip clubs, drinking and wasting all of his money (he became a minor celebrity in the media for fathering a child at such a young age), is told that he owes quite a lot of money to the IRS in back-taxes so he hatches a plan to get some, which includes reuniting with his son on his wedding weekend. He goes to Cape Cod for the celebration, and everything you think will happen does because this is a dull predictable film. The guests, much to Todd’s dismay, warm up to Donny, and eventually so does Todd, having some father-son bonding time, but of course when all seems peachy Donny screws up and makes Todd not trust him again, until the end of the movie in which Donny redeems himself. The one unexpected thing about this movie is that Vanilla Ice plays a part in the whole thing, acting as himself.

This is just a ridiculously stupid comedy from beginning to end, and at 116 minutes it’s not as though that end comes fast. I know the most hardcore Adam Sandler fans will probably laugh at the stupid accent he dons, at the stereotypical jokes, at the infantile raunch on display, but to me this was just a truly horrible film experience. Director Sean Anders, by the way, is absolutely useless in trying to make this any better than it’s material, the film is just super poorly structured and it’s just one attempt to out-gross it’s last scene at a time. This marks the fourth film I’ve given a D- this year, let’s hope it’s the last one. And let’s all hope Mr. Sandler takes a break from this stuff for a while, maybe give Paul Thomas Anderson a call.

Grade: D-

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