Adam Sandler. What happened to this guy? While he’s always been criticized for being sophomoric and dumb, some 15-20 years ago, he was actually funny. Some day, 15-20 years from now, my daughter will likely see Adam Sandler
After making Mr. Deeds, a movie that was critically panned (but admittedly, I enjoyed), his production company (Happy Madison Productions) has been a part of 23 films. On average, Rotten Tomatoes has given them around a 24 (which drops to 20 if you remove his two dramatic films – Reign Over Me and the unfunny Funny People). However, they’ve pulled in an average of $136 million for a grand total of over $3.1 billion. $3.1 billion for nary a good movie. Unbelievable!?!
However, when the previews for That’s My Boy came out, I didn’t have my normal reaction to seeing a trailer for a new Adam Sandler movie. Simply, I didn’t want to throw up in the back of my mouth. I actually really like Andy Samberg (Hot Rod was great and his work on SNL was always enjoyable). The director – Sean Anders – was responsible for one of the funniest movies of the past couple years (Hot Tub Time Machine) along with another underrated comedy (She’s Out of My League). Sandler, instead of playing the goofy guy in the PG-13 movie, went back to his juvenile, R-rated roots that everyone who grew up in the 90s loved (admit it… you loved “The Goat,” “At A Medium Pace,” and “Ode To My Car”) Kevin James and Rob Schneider weren’t in the credits. On paper, this movie looked like it had a tiny chance of actually being funny. Then, the movie came out, financially bombed (a rarity for anything Sandler-related) and got panned by critics who claimed it was “an ugly, tasteless, deadly and mean-spirited piece of filmmaking” and “vulgar, trite, sexist, misogynist, hacky, tacky, gross, sentimental and stupid, with occasional flourishes of racism and veiled homophobia thrown in to boot.”
That’s My Boy was certainly all of these things. Only, unlike anything else Sandler has touched in the past 10 years, it’s also really, really funny.
That’s My Boy is the story of Donny Berger (Sandler) who is a teenage boy who gets his teacher pregnant. She is sent to jail and their love child – Han Solo Berger (Samberg) – is raised by Donny until he moves out of the house and changes his identity. Donny Berger becomes a teenage star. Nearly 30 years later, Donny is broke and no longer famous. He finds out he needs to make a $43,000 payment for back taxes or else he’s going to jail. Donny tries to reunite with his son who has changed his name and is getting married.
As with any of the really good Sandler movies (yes, these exist), the plot is pretty pointless. We aren’t talking about highbrow comedy or an art house storyline. Had someone watched Sandler on SNL, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy, suffered a massive head injury and been in a coma for 14 years only to come back awake in time for the release of That’s My Boy, it would completely fit in with the narrative of his career. In fact, many times when I was watching this movie, I kept thinking that That’s My Boy felt like it had the spirit of an R-rated Billy Madison.
Surely, That’s My Boy will be unfairly be clumped in with the (many) steaming piles of poo Adam Sandler has lent his name to over the past 10 years. There are a few scenes (particularly those with Dan Patrick, Vanilla Ice, and especially Rex Ryan) that are brilliant. Chances are you’ve long since given up on Sandler movies, but if you’ve enjoyed some of the funnier “hard R” films of the past few years (Hot Tub Time Machine, any of the Apatow movies, etc), I suggest giving this a chance. At the very least, you’re out $1.50 from the Redbox.
out of 10