Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Review: 'That's My Boy' Predictably Juvenile & Surprisingly Far Uglier Than The Usual Adam Sandler Offering

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist June 14, 2012 at 12:37PM

Adam Sandler, comedian, A-List star, and leading man of this Friday’s “That’s My Boy,” is not an idiot. Dedicated to preserving his brand, his films have effectively raised a generation, from the sophomoric absurdity of “Billy Madison” to, uh, the sophomoric banality of “Grown Ups.” You can’t keep playing the same notes forever, and Sandler is not the most diverse instrument, so aside from token experiments (“Punch Drunk Love” certainly stands out), “That’s My Boy” is something of a departure: a hard-R rated film featuring an unfamiliar collaborator in director Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and a co-star who actually makes Sandler, for the first time ever, come across as an elder.
8

That's My Boy Adam Sandler Andy Samberg
Adam Sandler, comedian, A-List star, and leading man of this Friday’s “That’s My Boy,” is not an idiot. Dedicated to preserving his brand, his films have effectively raised a generation, from the sophomoric absurdity of “Billy Madison” to, uh, the sophomoric banality of “Grown Ups.” You can’t keep playing the same notes forever, and Sandler is not the most diverse instrument, so aside from token experiments (“Punch Drunk Love” certainly stands out), “That’s My Boy” is something of a departure: a hard-R rated film featuring an unfamiliar collaborator in director Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and a co-star who actually makes Sandler, for the first time ever, come across as an elder.

We first meet Sandler’s Donny as a young boy, a hotshot preteen with a prepubescent school hallway strut. Despite his assumption that sex involves endless “handjobs,” he attracts the amorous attention of a shapely female teacher, resulting in frequent covert dalliances. When the two are exposed during a school assembly, she runs off in shame while he salutes a standing ovation from the entire school. Gaining massive tabloid fame, Donny becomes the latest in a long line of unlikely Sandler sex gods. This is what comes with superstardom.

That's My Boy Adam Sandler Andy Samberg Leighton Meester

Twenty-five years later, the well has run dry for Donny. Now a frequently drunk substance abuser, he’s bottomed out as a sullen strip club regular with no way to monetize his fifteen minutes of fame and seemingly superhuman seduction abilities. With the IRS beckoning, his savings have dwindled considerably, though his hopelessness finds salvation in his son. Long avoiding his screw-up father and having disowned his birth name of Han Solo, Todd (Andy Samberg) has become a wealthy hedge fund manager, and on the eve of a high-profile wedding, a magazine cover earns him just enough publicity to bring Dad back into the picture.

Todd, unsurprisingly, is also a dysfunctional bundle of neuroses, with an endless list of pill prescriptions and idiosyncrasies that involve showering in swim trunks and carrying an extra pair of underwear to work. His father’s return, however, is of the china shop bull variety, and only an impromptu lie passes Donny off as a lifelong friend, preserving the notion that Todd's folks have long perished in a massive explosion. As the duo struggle to preserve this illusion, Donny keeps scheming to get closer to his son, and presumably to his considerable wealth.

That's My Boy Andy Samberg Adam Sandler Vanilla Ice

As a performer, the R rating feels freeing to Sandler. Long seen as a slacker manchild, Sandler has made a poor transition to adult characters. Lacking in moral conviction and/or comedic dimension, the collection of upper middle class simpletons he’s portrayed have limited one of the most popular comedians of his generation from actually creating any truly memorable characters beyond golf savant Happy Gilmore seventeen years ago. But as Donny, Sandler is a crude, sloppy, f-bomb machine, quick with a quip and bound to his own oblivious ego. In “That’s My Boy,” Sandler finally gets a chance to be an alpha male in the most basic sense, a show-stopping mischief maker not beholden to another forced romance or Screenwriting 101 diversion.

Because he’s essentially playing the straight man, Samberg finds considerably less success. One of the few potential breakout stars of the recent “Saturday Night Live” era, Samberg is a fully formed comic personality, but not necessarily an actor quite yet. Samberg’s gifts are subtle, not necessarily outsized, and while they fit into a cartoon comedic world like “Hot Rod,” they’re a more awkward fit for the down-to-earth Happy Madison universe. Bits of Samberg’s rubbery manic energy burst through the seams, mostly in the form of painful-looking pratfalls, but for the most part he feels like a polite guest in the Sandler world, too concerned with not ruffling the blankets, and, more importantly, not upstaging his more prestigious co-star.

That's My Boy Adam Sandler Vanilla Ice

Sandler, notorious for loading his movies with significant non-actors, goes somewhat overboard this time around. Pivotal roles are filled by the likes of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, crooner Tony Orlando and, least effectively, Vanilla Ice. The former pop sensation, who has aged as if he’s just stepped out of a time machine, plays himself as an unemployed washout who nonetheless still carries on as if he’s got the world’s biggest chip on his shoulder. While fellow 'SNL' vet Will Forte manages to give a wickedly comic spin to the most mundane expository dialogue, and James Caan lets loose as a tough-talking priest, we get to spend an inordinate amount of time with ESPN personality Dan Patrick as a dimwitted reality TV host in a deadening, charmless characterization. You’d think these roles would be better suited to any number of Sandler’s former “SNL” mates, but no -- New York Knick Baron Davis clearly needed the work.

Most surprisingly, the R-rating gives Sandler and his cronies greater opportunities to explore his considerably backwards sexual views. Every single female character in this film, from the (typical) foul-mouthed grandmother to the random extras, is a sex object. Sandler doesn’t discriminate -- Donny’s best confidante is an overweight black stripper, and even Todd’s fiancée has her own peculiar bedroom peccadilloes, revealed in a genuinely shocking, tasteless, absurdly upsetting third act reveal. In “That’s My Boy,” our men are bound to be bad boys forever, because it’s the women that are destined to be objects of mockery, derision and even grotesque defilement. [D]

This article is related to: Review, Adam Sandler, That's My Boy, Andy Samberg, Will Forte, Vanilla Ice, James Caan


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates