At the screening of the new R-rated—for raunchy and redundant, no doubt–movie “That’s My Boy” I felt like I witnessed something special. But not special in a good way. I can’t help but think that what we saw wasn’t so much a movie, but more some kind of performance art where people who should know better do awful things and charge you ten buck to watch. I hope this is some kind of postmodern art project, ‘cuz a comedy it ain’t.
Sandler plays Donny Berger, a party animal who, at age thirteen, engaged in extracurricular activities with his homeroom teacher (Eva Amurri). When their lovemaking interrupted the graduation ceremony, she was sent to jail, and he was left to raise their baby Han Solo Berger (Andy Samberg), with disastrous results. Cut to present day. Father and son are estranged, and Donnie glory days are behind him. He needs $43,000 to pay off back taxes or he’s going to jail. He turns to the one person he knows might have the money, his son, now a wealthy businessman on the eve of getting married.
With the release of “That’s My Boy” Adam Sandler turns the corner from tiresome to embarrassing. It’s hard to image a lazier rehashing of all the man-children he has played in the past. There’s shades of Mr. Deeds, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmour here, all topped off with a grating New England character voice that sounds like a cross between a can opener opening a can of Boston Baked Beans and screeching tires. By the time Sandler trades lines with a dirty old oven mitt, you realize his performance makes The Three Stooges look refined.
Not that he’s got much to work with. The “script” is simply a collection of spit takes, curse words and an old dignified looking woman forced to do and say outrageous things. Instead of writing jokes screenwriter David Caspe has simply found the most inappropriate way to forward a scene and run with it.
There are a couple of giggles, although the ratio of laughs to awkward audience silence is low in this 114-minute movie. There’s a strip joint that serves breakfast called Bacon & Legs, a god Charlie Sheen line and (SPOILER ALERT) a good gag involving a couple of Sarandons, but many of the jokes are ruined by clumsy writing.
The tattoo gag in the trailer—Han shows off a now stretched New Kids on the Block back tat he got when he was in grade three—is a funny visual joke that is muted by Donnie’s yelping, “It’s all distorted! The heads are huge!” We get it. The joke is obvious and funny and doesn’t need to be explained, especially in that annoying voice.
Vanilla Ice, cast as Han’s uncle, is a novelty. He’s a porn movie level actor, which works well here because the movie has a porn movie twist. The less said about it the better. There will be no spoilers here.
If “Billy Madison” wasn’t immature enough for you, or you though “Happy Madison” should have been more infantile then “That’s My Boy” may be for you. All others beware.