THAT'S MY BOY Review

This was never expected to be that great of a movie and I can accept that. Despite my soft spot for Adam Sandler it is impossible to ignore the fact that in the past two years his Happy Madison productions have gone nowhere but down in terms of quality and the amount of laughs they deliver. While I felt like one of the few who really enjoyed Funny People for what it was supposed to be rather than what audiences expected it to be everything that Sandler has done since proves he learned nothing from the experience of making that movie. It seemed things might be turning around this year though as Sandler (kind of) left his comfort zone where instead of being surrounded by his usual cohorts he teamed up with prime-"SNL" star Andy Samberg for an all out raunchfest. While Samberg has certainly brought his random and ridiculous humor to the table there is also the very evident touch of writer David Caspe who is credited with several episodes of the well-reviewed show "Happy Endings" and director Sean Anders who before directed the underrated teen comedy Sex Drive. The free-wheeling tone of the film can absolutely be credited to their guidance and though Sandler does resort to silly make-up and a greasy wig to make the character more than just a version of himself he goes backwards a few steps with the over-exaggerated northern accent. To his credit though, this is certainly the funniest thing he's done in recent memory and in that regard I guess we can be thankful. Maybe it is a step in a funnier direction, but as I write this he is making his first sequel and out of all the films he could have picked from we will be watching Grown Ups 2 next year...maybe.

Todd (Andy Samberg) shows his dad, Donny (Adam
Sandler) the tattoo he gave him when he was eight.
That's My Boy is a movie that unlike most of Sandler's comedies doesn't carry the heavy weight of a lesson learned. It does, but it's not out in the forefront at the conclusion of the film like so many corny lessons usually are. The film instead simply goes for the laughs and Sandler is in a no holds barred mode as he let's the f-words fly with no regard to what others will think of him. His character, Donny Berger knocked up his jr. high teacher and fathered a child he was forced to raise by himself until the boy turned 18. That the film goes there so early is an indication of where it is heading and while most of what we will see is going to be a predictable mess the writers throw in some good jokes along the way as well as a few genuine surprises even if they are completely out of left field and devoid of any real substance. Donny finds himself nearing 40 and has spent all of his money earned from his 15-minutes of fame as the kid who hooked up with the hot teacher. He owes the IRS $40,000 and is in need of some quick cash so he can avoid the same fate as his lover/teacher. Donny's son, who left when he was 18 to make a life for himself is now getting married, is super wealthy, and has changed his name to Todd. As Todd, Samberg plays the straight role to Sandler's out of control Donny and for the most part the story arc and the relationship works. I would liked to have seen Samberg get a little more crazy as he and his dad begin to mend their relationship, but despite the vulgarity of the jokes being there the antics don't ever seem to get to out of control. There is a nice underlying point here in that the family Todd is marrying into is just as crazy and messed up as his own, but they have to go to some pretty extreme lengths to make this true. I couldn't believe they actually went where they did as it just seemed pointless and didn't exactly get a huge laugh, but to their credit it was an unexpected, weird, and ballsy move.

Donny and Todd reunite with their old friend Vanilla Ice.
What was smart about Sandler's move here is that he likely knows what the internet and fanboys are saying about him and though he probably could care less as long as he gets his box office returns that guarantee his checks (the reason Grown Ups is getting a sequel) but you know it has to hurt him a bit when so many people make the critique that he is no longer funny. People genuinely used to think the guy was funny and a lot of that has been lost. Teaming with someone like Samberg who practically is Sandler from 16 years ago will give the Sandman an opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of those who have given up on him. In that regard, the movie should be a success. This has a lot of laughs and is a flat out comedy that could be described as a party movie but overall it is just a fun, R-rated night out at the movies. It has no more depth to it than that and shouldn't be expected to. It is what it is and one of the best things about that is the fact it isn't ashamed to act out or be loud and obnoxious. The argument could be made that the movie should have gone a little deeper, maybe even exploring the humor in dark situations such as the realization on the teachers part that she literally ruined the life of a young child. Sure, it was fun and they can call it love, but this boy could have amounted to be anything in the world but was robbed of those opportunities because of one adults selfish (I know it's hard to see things that way) actions. There was not a shot in hell that is where this movie was going. The film gets as deep as showing a man child learn to be an adult from the kid who took away his actual childhood. It is very subtle in these themes as the dick jokes are pushed to forefront, but give it a while to resonate, they're there if you want them to be.

Joined by his best man Phil (Will Forte) and future
brother-in-law Chad (Milo Ventimiglia) Todd and Donny
meet with the priest for the wedding rehearsal.
As with any Sandler comedy there is a host of cameos here, most of which actually improve the film and are accountable for many of the laughs. The biggest and most obvious is that of Vanilla Ice playing himself. He actually (surprisingly) does a pretty good job at playing up his image and making fun of what most would likely hope he is doing now. As a fellow celebrity alongside the fictional Donny in the 80's Vanilla comes into play as an integral part of the mayhem and an influence in Todd's young life. This is just one of the many examples of how ridiculous the movie gets. Sandler staple Nick Swardson has some funny bits as does Todd Bridges from Diff'rent Strokes, Tony Orlando has a pretty stable supporting part and "SNL" alums like Will Forte and Rachel Dratch pop up occasionally. In actual supporting roles Leighton Meester does nothing for me as the evil bride to be though her brother as played by "Heroes" alum Milo Ventimiglia steals his handful of scenes. It is another ridiculously exxagerated role that in the end turns into something weird and unexpected, but the acting ability he displays almost makes the whole thing feel plausible. Kudos to Milo. In the end this will likely show up on Sandler's filmography as an effort to re-cement himself as the funny man he once was. It is hard to say whether it will be embraced or not. It is a film that is all out raunchy and dirty for the sake of being raunchy and dirty but it does deliver serious laughs consistently. The additions of Samberg's credibility will certainly lend some interest in the project that Sandler will lose by skewing to the older demographic. I liked the movie, I laughed alot, and came out of the theater not feeling like I wasted my time but in fact that I found enjoyment in the comedy. You can't really expect or really want more out of a comedy than that. Maybe a little more class to the jokes, maybe a little more sense to the script but it is what it is and I hope people give Sandler another shot.