Starring:Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester
If Adam Sandler was the King of Comedy, then maybe we could excuse him of a bad film once in a while. If he was making blockbusters back-to-back, left, right and centre, then maybe we could forgive him. A terrible joke, a badly timed punch-line… it could all be overlooked if only, if only Adam Sandler didn’t return to our screens every few months, begging on his knees for our giggles and our snorts and only ever getting our sighs and our cringes.
All of this to say – That’s My Boy was an okay (ish) surprise. It would be risky to go as far as to say that Adam Sandler is finally getting closer to the King Of Comedy title (currently held by Ben Stiller in many opinions), but there were more than a few chortles from the audience during the film.
If you ignore the irritatingly raspy growl of Donny Berger (Sandler), then you can sort of get your head around the story. Donny is a burned-out, lowlife of a former reality TV star who nabbed his 15 minutes of fame for impregnating his high school teacher (now serving a 30 year sentence in a women’s prison) at 14 years old. The result of the disturbingly paedophilic, cringe-into-your-hand affair was a son, Hans Solo/Todd (Andy Samberg), who understandably cut off all contact with his incompetent, heavy-drinking, debt-facing, woman-grabbing excuse for a Father and made it on his own - now an engaged millionaire, living with his past behind him. That’s My Boy follows Donny as he is approached with the dilemma of serving a prison sentence or paying a $43,000 bill total, forcing him to get back in touch with his estranged love-child in return for a $50,000 TV endorsement.
In utter embarrassment, the awkward and endearing Todd (suitably played by the Saturday Night Live star) decides to tell his future family (an uptight fiancé (Leighton Meester), snooty in-laws (Maegen Fay, Blake Clark) and a stern, quick-tempered Marine brother (Milo Ventimiglia)) that Donny is in fact, his “best friend”. Donny is determined to prove himself as a Father and is eager to rebuild his relationship with his son, but it wouldn’t be a story worth telling if that were all to happen without a series of mishaps and bumps along the way.
Any film done by Adam Sandler’s film company Happy Madison ensures that you the viewer are in for a crude, gasp-worthy yet lengthy cinematic experience, filled with profanity and inappropriate humour (I’m talking incest and Granny-sex). Sandler once again steps into the role of the trash-talking, middle-aged embarrassment figure, as easy as you and I can step into our pants in a morning. Although he was slightlyamusing in parts, watching him take on a character that has the potential to be quite funny and yet ruin it with bad habits, was simply painful. Adam Sandler is nothing more than Adam Sandler to us anymore. He’s had far too many fall-backs (Anger Management aside) for us to accept him as a successful comedic actor, so now his films seem too cliché and too samey to be considered anything other than average. The chemistry between Sandler and Samberg lacks sincerity and fails to interest, however it is a Vanilla Ice cameo and smaller roles (Will Forte, Peggy Stewart, Susan Sarandon, James Caan) that add the infinite hilarity that That’s My Boy needs.
It can be argued that the only humour depicted in the film is a result of a snappy script and way-with-the-camera, or it could be suggested that it was in fact the 80s-esque soundtrack that distracted us from all the bad parts… whatever we do say, That’s My Boy does not succeed because of an original plot or a flawless cast (although avid Sandler fans may be able to tolerate it a little more). That’s My Boy does not succeed because of a deeper hidden meaning, or even a single hilarious one-liner. That’s My Boy doesn’t succeed because of any of that stuff. That’s My Boy, simply, just doesn’t succeed. At all.