Fresh off of his announcement that he was leaving “Saturday Night Live” after seven seasons, acclaimed funnyman Andy Samberg has already found a new comedy home — and even better, it’s with Adam Sandler, who plays his dad in “That’s My Boy.”
It only makes sense, being that it was just Father’s Day and all.
“There are not a lot of parts suited better for me than Adam Sandler’s son, if he had a son in his teens, because we’re the perfect age difference,” Samberg told me in an interview Thursday. “I’ve been told my whole life that I look like him and remind people of him, which was not coincidence because I was obsessed with him growing up and modeled my career after his. So when my agent gave me the script, I called him and said I was dying to play the part, and he was very sweet about it.”
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New in theaters, Sandler stars as Donny, an overgrown 40-something who’s lived his life like a party after an inappropriate relationship with his teacher turns him into a celebrity. The product of their relationship was Todd (Samberg), who was raised by Donny after the teacher is sent to jail. After 18 years of his dad’s irresponsible ways, Todd cut ties.
Years later, when Donny needs Todd after getting into a money jam, he shows up on the eve of his estranged son’s wedding to the girl of his dreams (Leighton Meester). Hoping to reconnect with his boy so he will fall for a scheme that will score him the cash he needs, the two instead form an unexpected bond. All of a sudden caring about his well-being, Donny discovers some things that his messed-up son is oblivious to, and tries to save Todd before he gets into a lifetime of hurt.
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“That’s My Boy” is Sandler’s first R-rated film in a while, and it no doubt likes to push the limits when it comes to not only gross-out and sex humor. Right off the bat, the film shows that no subject is off-limits when it comes to parody, especially with a premise where the 13-year-old Donny impregnates his seductress teacher.
“You’re certainly worried that people will find it irresponsible, but for me personally, if it’s funny, then it flies. That’s always the rule,” Samberg said. “If you don’t push it, it never goes anywhere. There’s a lot of subject matter and risque material in this movie, and that’s just one of them. It makes light of the double standard of the whole thing, and depending on who you are, you’ll either find it hilarious or be a little annoyed by it. So far with preview screenings people have found it funny, so it’s a huge relief.”
Like many of Sandler’s previous films, “That’s My Boy” features a variety of characters of all ages, a storytelling sensibility that has always appealed to Samberg as a fan of the comedy actor’s work. Here you not only get a variety of today’s stars like Meester, Milo Ventimiglia and Will Forte, esteemed actors like James Caan and Susan Sarandon are part of the mix, as well 88-year-old golden age actress Peggy Stewart, rapper Vanilla Ice and ’70s hitmaker Tony Orlando.
“No scene is boring, there’s always somebody crazy in them,” Samberg said. “Even in Adam’s movies where he’s playing it straight, there’s always some insane character coming through and saying something crazy — and in this one, Adam is pretty crazy. I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of his movies. It’s not just about him. He keeps it lively and keeps passing the ball around, comedy-wise.”
Sarandon has a small but pivotal role in “That’s My Boy” as the older version of Todd’s mom (the younger version appropriately is played by Eva Amurri Martino — Sarandon’s daughter in real life).
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“I’ve just been fortunate to have incredible women to play my mother,” Samberg said. “In ‘Hot Rod’ it was Sissy Spacek and Susan Sarandon twice now. I’ve definitely hit the jackpot when it comes to on-screen moms.”
In a separate interview, Sarandon said she feels the same way about working with Samberg, and is excited about his career prospects.
“I just adore Andy. I think he’s very, very bright, inventive and brave,” Sarandon said. “I’m very excited about his movie career and that he had the guts to leave ‘Saturday Night Live’ and go out on his own. It’s funny, because people usually think if you’re challenging tradition with your comedy, you’re somehow kind of edgy and mean. But he couldn’t be sweeter or couldn’t be braver.”
“So I’m very proud to be his mom in ‘That’s My Boy’ — even if I’m in jail,” Sarandon added, slyly.
Anybody familiar with Samberg’s career knows this is actually the second time Sarandon has played Samberg’s mom. The first came in the laugh-out-loud hilarious “Saturday Night Live” digital short “Mother Lover.”
For those who haven’t seen it, the short features Samberg and Justin Timberlake reprising their “D— in a Box” singers for a new music video, but this time where they agree to have, um-hum, “relationships” with each other’s mothers. Timberlake’s mom is played by Patricia Clarkson.
Comparing her role in “Mother Lover” to their new film, Samberg said Sarandon’s character isn’t quite as dysfunctional as she is in “That’s My Boy.”
“For ‘Mother Lover’ she’s quite functional,” Samberg said, laughing, while enunciating the first part of the f-word. “She functions just fine.”
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