What can you say about an Adam Sandler film that hasn’t been said at least a half dozen times before… or at least each time he releases a new cinematic lobotomy?
That it’s meager plot is mind-numbingly silly? Sophomoric? A charity vehicle for fellow, less successful comic actors from his own personal posse to cash an easy paycheck? That Sandler often plays essentially the same character in each film using the same whiny voice?
Tragically enough for movie audiences, Sandler’s latest film, “That’s My Boy” amazingly finds a way to add new pejorative adjectives to describe his latest offering. In what seems like an apparent desperate attempt to jump on the current Judd Apatow / Seth McFarlane brand of often dubious, but undeniably popular and successful potty humor; Sandler decides in “That’s My Boy” to go the full monty and ratchet up the vulgarity and offensiveness to new levels that should surprise even die-hard regular fans of Sandler’s previous films.
In this film, never has pedophilia, incest, masturbation, erections, questionable nudity, sex with the elderly and much more ( or worse ) been so sloppily mixed with – indeed ALL the known bodily fluids and excretions – on screen, to create such a throughly disgusting and immature cocktail of low brow humor… unworthy of even a lobotomized frat boy’s sensibilities.
If the bar had been set any lower for this film’s vulgar humor… only flatworms and slugs could crawl underneath it.
“That’s My Boy” takes off on the premise that it’s OK, funny and even admirable for an underage boy to have repeated sex with his older teacher… just as long as she’s hot looking.
Hilarious stuff. Just ask real life couple, Mary Kay Letourneau and her once underage “hot for teacher” lover, now husband, Vili Fualaau. The real life student and teacher had the white hot media spotlight on them for years; but certainly not in the most flattering light as this film tries to depict.
However, in “That’s My Boy”, Boston bred 13-year old Donny Berger becomes a 1980’s media and nationwide folk hero after he’s caught during a high school assembly having sex with his erotically aggressive teacher Mary McGarrigle. Soon after, McGarrigle is sent off to prison, pregnant with young Donny’s child.
Somehow, in Sandler’s skewed world, the court eventually awards Donny custody of his son. After thirty years, the now grown up Donny ( played by Sandler ) is no longer a desired tabloid celebrity. He’s a burnt-out, broke embarrassment perpetually popping open a beer and frequenting the kind of local strip bar where mothers and daughters both work hard for the money on the pole.
Donny’s now grown up son, named at birth Han Solo Berger ( SNL’s Andy Samberg ) has changed his name to Todd to avoid embarrassment and told everyone his parents are dead. Donny’s son has created a new life where he’s about to marry his beautiful fiancee Jamie ( Leighton Meister ) and is set to become a partner in a Boston financial firm. He even has an amazing high rise apartment overlooking the Boston cityscape.
However, when Donny finds himself needing thousands of dollars to pay back taxes and avoid being sent to prison, he re-enters Todd / Han’s life in a get-rich quick scheme involving a tabloid reality TV reunion between Todd, Donny and Todd’s still incarcerated mother.
The subsequent hi-jinks surround Donny crashing his son’s carefully crafted wedding weekend on the Cape at the luxurious seaside compound owned by Todd’s wealthy boss, Steve ( Tony Orlando ). Donny reluctantly plays along with Todd’s abruptly created explanation for Donny’s presence that he’s his long lost best friend come to visit.
Oddly enough, rather than see the obvious that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would quickly discern about Donny’s crass, low brow character; instead, all the wedding guests and family find his brash vulgarity to be charming, endearing and attractive.
Yeah, right. That would happen… on the Cape, no less ?
Donny becomes a babe magnet to all the comely invited wedding party debutantes; as well as Steve’s elderly but sexually feisty mother ( Peggy Stewart ) who eventually and willingly becomes part of a three way sex romp with Donny and former rapper Vanilla Ice, who plays a financially poorer parody of his real life self.
Meanwhile, as everyone increasingly comes to adore Donny, they equally begin to heap abuse, insults and condemnation on the now stressed out Todd. What follows is an all out assault by Sandler in this film to see just how far he can go to push the taboo envelope further than he’s ever pushed it before.
No bodily fluid, function or gross-out moment seems too far to be left unexplored in “That’s My Boy”. Whether it’s Todd’s fiancee tasting a certain bodily fluid off her wedding dress made famous in the film, “There’s Something About Mary” as hair gel or borderline morbidly obese people running nude through the streets for no apparent reason other than a crude sight gag; Sandler has decided in this film to let his already nominal PC filter to fully evaporate.
The tragic irony here is that Sandler, the comedic actor, truly has some admirable skills as a dramatic actor with humorous nuances as evidenced in his films “Punch Drunk Love” and to a lesser, but still effective level in “Spanglish”, featuring the beautiful Paz Vega.
But, with “That’s My Boy”, Sandler chooses to flush such valuable credibility down the toilet by embracing his inner on-screen moron and making him even more offensive than ever, in addition to the expected and requisite trait of being just plain annoying.
Equally puzzling is the decision by veteran actor James Caan to appear in this film as a crusty Catholic priest with anger management issues. Caan left the successful TV series “Vegas” a few years ago to return to doing film work, which he reportedly found more rewarding.
… and THIS is the mindless drivel he left a successful TV show to pursue as a supposed career advancement in his professional twilight ?
One wonders if there exists a “Godfather Curse” that’s only now rearing it’s ugly head. First DeNiro begins slumming it, embarrassingly so, in “Meet The Fockers” et al, then Al Pacino in “Jack and Jill” and now Caan shows up in this travesty.
Who knew Talia Shire would be the lone hold out to maintain her professional dignity ?
Samberg proves in this film that he perhaps should have stayed with SNL’s secure paycheck for a couple more seasons. His contribution to this film is nothing more than he already contributed to a randomly banal SNL sketch; and far less than his witty and creative SNL Digital Shorts.
Sandler succeeds in making Donny far more layered a character than in most of his recent films; that is, if the “layering” means making the character far more offensive on multiple levels, rather than “one note” annoying.
“That’s My Boy” is a vulgar, obnoxious mess that hitches it’s hopes on connecting with audiences by gleefully pandering to the lowest common denominator possible.
Sadly, that kind of faulty math only makes this film… a big fat huge zero.
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