In That’s My Boy, the latest comedy from Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison Productions and their first R-rated one at that, the premise of the story centers around an inappropriate relationship between a 13-year old boy and his 8th grade math teacher, and that’s not even the most taboo and “out there” moment of the movie, so if you are easily offended, stay far away from this raunch fest peppered with a smattering of sentimentality and a few good cameos.
As stated, the story starts with 13-year old Donny (Justin Weaver) having a sexual relationship with his math teacher Miss McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino, Dead Man Walking, The Banger Sisters), which is discovered by the entire student body at one time, giving Donny instant stardom while sending the pregnant and unrepentant McGarricle to prison for thirty years. After a montage showing how teenage Donny became a tabloid and media sensation and then burned through his money and fame with ease, we jump to thirty years later, where grown up Donny (Sandler) is on the verge of going to prison himself for tax evasion and has completely lost with his son (Andy Samberg, Hot Rod). So when Donny gets a chance to solve his tax woes by agreeing to get his long lost son to go with him to visit Miss McGarricle in prison for a family reunion and tape it all for a sleazy television show, he agrees because he sees no other choice.
This turn of events coincides with his son getting married and his rising career as a hedge fund manager, so when Donny shows up a few days ahead of the wedding festivities, all held at his son’s boss’ summer home, it is obvious that nothing can go right from here on out for his son, who is mortified to see Donny back in his life. And this awkward father-son relationship is what makes this movie work at all, because there is actually a small amount of emotional investment in these characters. Donny, while being a seemingly idiotic, blowhard douche bag, regrets his poor parenting skills as a teenager and in the end he really loves his kid and wants him to be well, so there are a few moments built around these feelings, which helps a little in balancing out all of the masturbation jokes and general R-rated goofiness.
Surprisingly, there are a few bits here and there throughout That’s My Boy that made it seem, for a few seconds anyway, that maybe they actually had a little something to say with this movie. They did point out the absurd and hypocritical fact that while society looks down on a relationship between an older man and a younger girl, it is seen as “cool” when it happens in reverse, as during the trial scene all the men in the courtroom are shown nodding, smiling and giving each other fist bumps when the facts of the case are read out. But this really is all that they get out of this idea, and they just kind of move on from it to get into the real story.
They do this again when young Donny is found having sex with McGarricle in front of the whole student in the school auditorium, and all of the kids erupt in applause and cheers, and as Donny looks out over the crowd and takes in his new instant fame and infamy, there is a large banner hanging in the auditorium that reads “Some have greatness thrust upon them,” which is followed by the montage of Donny in tabloid and magazine headlines and doing the late night talk show circuit. This is a great set up to a story about a person who is thrust into the celebrity life and into the spotlight for notorious reasons, and the eventual fallout of that instant stardom, but this is not that story at all. They could have tried working into their father-son narrative, but they didn’t. It’s just a backdrop for the main plot, which is fine, but was just a bit of a letdown because for a moment it appeared that this was actually going to go somewhere reflective and interesting.
But instead it’s just another Adam Sandler comedy, albeit one a little left of center and less mainstream then some of his more recent, successful films. His character is not anchored down by any wives or love interests or children, as this id monster of a beer-guzzling, party animal gets to just let it all hang out at all times, and it harkens back to his more aggressive and adult-oriented comedy albums, which is fun and refreshing just because it’s different from what’s he done lately. Still, your level of enjoyment with That’s My Boy will still hinge heavily on your like or dislike of Adam Sandler and his particular brand of comedy. If you don’t take to Sander generally, then you definitely won’t like this foul-mouthed, Boston-accented version of Sandler. But if you do like his shtick, then this is one of his better movies in terms of delivering some good laughs from start to finish, and it’s nice to see that they didn’t pull any punches as they allowed the story get to some weird and freaky places along the way.
Hear Christopher on SBK Live! every Monday night at 8:45 PM for a review of the prior weekend’s box office and films.
Email Christopher at email@example.com
Click here for Chris Crespo’s Netflix Watch Instantly Pick of the Week