Wednesday, December 11, 2013

That's My Boy

Directed by Sean Anders.
2012. Rated R, 116 minutes.
Vanilla Ice
Tony Orlando
Rachel Dratch
Eva Amurri Martino
Peggy Stewart
Milo Ventimiglia

As a thirteen year old, Donny Berger (Sandler) lives out the fantasy of many a young boy when he enters into a sexual relationship with Ms. McGarricle (Martino in ’84, Sarandon in the present), the hottest teacher in school. When this bit of info becomes extremely public, Ms. McGarricle is shipped off to jail. There is just one little complication. She is pregnant. Donny and his family are awarded custody of the baby whom he names Han Solo Berger. Fast-forward almost thirty years. Donny is now a loser former celebrity in deep to the IRS. In fact, he has just a few days to come up with $43,000 or he will go to prison, himself. Han Solo, now going by Todd Peterson (Samberg) is now a successful executive and about to marry his fiancée Jamie (Meester). Donny cannot ask him for the money because the two are not on speaking terms. However, a friend of Donny’s who hosts a smutty talk show, offers him fifty grand if he can organize a family reunion of sorts, with Todd and Ms. McGarricle at the women’s prison where she is still an inmate.

There are basically two distinct versions of Adam Sandler. The one that fares best is the rather bland Everyman whose either a family man or a rather normal dude looking for love. As this person, Sandler generally makes his better movies. They appear to have a heart and Sandler, while not great, is usually likeable. The other version is the zany Sandler. This version usually has some goofy voice and/or accent, drinks heavily and/or does drugs, uses lots of slapstick and anatomy humor, and often uses a sexual fetish as a running gag. The movies featuring this Sandler are routinely dumber and have a few laugh out loud moments hidden within a crowd of jokes that don’t work. This latter version is the one we get for That’s My Boy.

If you can’t tell by my in-depth analysis of the two sides of our star, we get a string of jokes that are all loud and crass, but fail to be funny. The biggest reason for this is that we’ve seen this from Sandler before. It’s all way too familiar. Everything is a retread of stuff we got from You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Little Nicky, The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, etc. Donny has a thing for old ladies, masturbates a lot, winds up in a fist fight with an old man, there are a number of cameos from sports personalities, and so on. On top of that, there are a number of dated references to things that were funny for about five minutes back in the nineties.

To his credit, Adam Samberg does the best with what he has to work with. Admittedly, that’s not much, but he at least gives us someone to root for. For most part, he’s the straight man for all the knuckleheads running around in this movie. Though they try, I wouldn’t call any of his scenes even remotely touching. Still, they are by far the most bearable ones in the entire film. Most of our laughs are reserved for him making an innocent mistake, not from the outlandish antics of any of the others.

For me personally, this was a chore to sit through. It has a few funny moments, but they are few and far between. As with most comedic actors who have been around for a while, use how normally feel about their work as a guide to make your own decision. You know if you are a fan of Sandler’s wackier work, or not. It really is that simple. Don’t trick yourself into thinking this might be somehow different, or better, than what we’ve come to expect from him. If you like zany Sandler, by all means, go for it. If you prefer the tamer incarnation, skip it.

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