Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That's My Boy (2012) - Movie Review

Let's get this out of the way, I don't hate Adam Sandler.  I own many of his earlier movies and I think he's a talented guy.  At the same time, there's been a steady decline and laziness to his work.  I thought after Funny People - a good movie that pokes fun at the types of movies he's made - he was going to move into a more mature phase of his career.  Instead, we get That's My Boy.

If you haven't seen the trailer, the basic story is this:  Donny Berger is a 12-year-old that's 'seduced' by his teacher, Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino).  They actually carry on this inappropriate relationship for a while, but are eventually caught.  Matters are complicated when it results in a pregnancy.  Ms. McGarricle is sentenced to 30 years in prison and custody is granted to Donny and his father, with the condition that he takes full custody when he turns 18.  We fast forward nearly 30 years and see that Donny (Adam Sandler) is broke and owes money to the IRS.

Donny finds his son Todd (Andy Samberg), who has disavowed Donny to the point where he has changed his name (from Han Solo, which I have to admit is kind of awesome) and claims his parents are dead.  Todd is now a successful businessman and about to get married to Jamie (Leighton Meester). Posing as an old friend of Todd's, Donny crashes the festivities and hopes he can get Todd to agree to show up in a reality program that promised to pay Donny enough to get him out of trouble.

I'd shit all over this premise, and point out that it's essentially child rape, but let's face it, most Sandler films, even the well liked ones, have never really been all that strong on the story or premise.  I can usually get around bad premises and suspend my disbelief in any film as long as they are consistent with it.

The good news is that That's My Boy is not the worst Adam Sandler film I've seen, but that's damning it with faint praise.  There were actually a few parts that made me laugh a little, but they were too few and far between.  The movie really wears on, and there is simply no reason for this to be almost two hours.  There are lots of lulls that neither advance the story or even attempt to be funny.  A good 20 minutes of this could have been cut out entirely.

One notable thing is that this a rare, R-rated comedy from Sandler, but he's a little late to the party.  For a raunchy comedy, this may have played better 10 years ago, but by now this is all stuff you've seen done better.  Most of the jokes here are old, gross, very lame, or come out of nowhere.  I like silly and filthy as much as the next guy, but it has to be done well.  I don't mean to sound condescending, but this is a movie that will be much funnier to a younger audience.

Then on top of everything you have Sandler doing yet another man-child with a dumb voice. The sad part is that it all would have worked better if Sandler had just played it straight. I don't know why he thinks an awful accent is the same thing as playing a character. That's part of the problem; it really isn't a character that you can get behind.  Donny is a such a drunk, vulgar buffoon that you never root for him and most of the characters in the film react to him in an unrealistic way.  When they try to throw in a subplot about Donny trying to bond with his son, it just doesn't work well because the characters are so unlikable.

The cast is all pretty much wasted here.  Andy Samberg plays a neurotic, ineffectual dork that doesn't stand up for himself.  The role doesn't really allow him to be funny.  I thought Milo Ventimiglia was funny and liked seeing him doing something a little different after Heroes.  There are several amusing cameos throughout the film as well.  However, it's pretty sad when you have a cast full of comedic actors, like Nick Swardson and Will Forte, and Vanilla Ice is one of the funnier things about your film.

When is Adam Sandler going to do a movie called I Love the 80's?  Oh wait, he already did The Wedding Singer. I did find it ironic that the opening song is Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages", when this movie came out the same day as Rock of Ages.  I haven't seen Rock of Ages yet, but I'll hazard a guess that That's My Boy had a better soundtrack.  Would you rather hear bad karaoke versions of 80's songs or just hear the originals?  Seriously though, the movie does have a great soundtrack, but Sandler has a habit of hitting you over the head with how much he loves 80's rock.  Don't get me wrong, I love it too, but it was distracting this time around.

I'm actually kind of shocked that we didn't get more out of writer David Caspe and director Sean Anders.  Capse writes for Happy Endings, which is one of my favorite TV shows right now.  Anders wrote She's Out of My League and Hot Tub Time Machine.  You'd think with these kind of writers behind the movie, it would be funnier and fresher.

That's My Boy is just a tired, lame movie that simply isn't very funny.  Much like Sandler's Jack and Jill, it's surprisingly mean-spirited for something that's supposed to be a silly comedy.  I would say this is in the lower third of all of his films, which means it's just a bad movie.  There's no reason to watch this in the theater, or even rent this.  I advise you to skip it.  You won't miss anything.  Watch Hot Tub Time Machine again instead.

1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars


  1. This one just didn't do much for me. I laughed a couple of times here and there, but every other time this movie tried to be shocking, in order to be funny, I just felt somewhat disgusted and annoyed that Sandler would really try his hardest for a laugh and stoop-down to this level. No surprise it wasn't a big hit at the box-office. Good review Erik.

    1. The laughs were too few and it tried too hard to be raunchy. It just didn't work. Thanks always for the comments, Dan!