Vomiting? Check. Drug and alcohol abuse? Check. Incest? Check. Geriatric sex? Check. Gratuitous profanity and nudity? Check and check. Masturbation? Check. Urine and defecation scenes? Double-check. Extensive sequences involving semen? Check. Wait… What about an entire film premise based on glorifying child molestation? And check! Now you’ve got the new Adam Sandler movie, That’s My Boy, a film that makes a valiant attempt at being one of the most depraved movies ever made. Move over John Waters.
If you are a fan of Adam Sandler, then you are most likely going to see this movie, regardless of what you read here; and you will most likely be very pleased with it and its usual “Happy Madison” formula of offensiveness, together with a nice 80s soundtrack, washed-up celebrity cameos and lowest common denominator distastefulness.
The plot of That’s My Boy begins when a young boy, Donny (played as an adult by Sandler), has an inappropriate sexual relationship with his teacher, Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino). The two are eventually discovered, in the act and onstage at the school auditorium; and McGarricle is arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but she is pregnant with Donny’s child.
Donny instantly becomes a child star because of his sudden popularity for making it with his teacher, but now he also has to raise his baby son (who he names Han Solo) – a task for which he is obviously ill-prepared. Fast forward to his grown son’s (Andy Samberg) imminent wedding and Donny is completely estranged from his boy, who now calls himself Todd and claims his parents died in an explosion.
Donny needs to come up with $43,000 to keep from being thrown in jail for not paying back taxes, so he concocts a plan to lure Han Solo to the prison where his Mom is locked up and have a reunion that will air on a reality TV show. Donny will earn $50,000, but at the expense of his boy’s dignity – something this film is completely lacking.
In the meantime, Donny disrupts his son’s wedding plans in multiple ways, but in the end he manages to rekindle his relationship with the boy. It is all really just structured to serve-up 114 minutes of obnoxiously crude humor.
I can handle off-color material and I enjoyed the recent Sacha Baron Cohen vehicle, The Dictator, a movie that is probably equally offensive. The difference between these two films is that The Dictator had at least some underlying intelligence and social commentary, whereas That’s My Boy is just plain dumb and rude.
I have no idea how Sandler sucks celebrities into these lame projects, but in That’s My Boy you’ll see Vanilla Ice, Todd Bridges, James Caan, Tony Orlando, Rex Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Dan Patrick and Saturday Night Live alumni like Will Forte, Rachel Dratch and Colin Quinn. Were they all that sadly desperate, or did they really believe in this material?
Adam Sandler has (had anyway) potential to be a great comic actor, but he has squandered his talent playing to the gutter. My favorite Sandler film is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, but for many Sandler fans, this is his low-point, proving that this current film will most-likely do well with his base. So maybe he is manipulating his career down a smarter path than it seems (at least from a financial perspective.)
Just because I disliked this movie doesn’t mean it is without some moments of brilliance, making it all the more disappointing for its untapped potential. An ongoing gag where Donny explains how he saved Todd’s life by pushing him away from the railroad tracks where he was trying to recover a discarded burrito, just as the train passes and barely misses him, gets more hysterically elaborate each time he tells the story. Some of the bits with Vanilla Ice (who play’s Han Solo’s Uncle) are also very funny, but like the rest of the film, these sequences always end up veering off into “Crudeville.”
Most people eventually grow-up from being the obnoxious teenager trying to impress his friends at the mall, to being annoyed by those same teenagers. Why anyone would pay to sit in a theater and be subjected to two hours of that kind of behavior is beyond me. In many respects, Sandler’s films are much like his character in this movie; they have potential to be good, but lack the discipline to pull it off.