I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news for “That’s My Boy”.
The GOOD news is, it’s easily Adam Sandler’s best movie of the last ten years.
The BAD news is that that’s not sayin’ much.
In “That’s My Boy”, Sandler unleashes the character of Donny Burger on us. As a crass young boy, Sandler talks rudely (and by rudely read: sexually propositions) a teacher in order to impress his friends. The thing is, she buys into it, and is soon taking advantage of him. When they’re eventually caught, she is sent to jail for sexual assault of a minor… but he becomes a pseudo-celebrity. As a 13 year old who actually got to DO the teacher, he experiences a rush of national media attention, an influx of cash, and a reputation as a ladies man.
It’s not ALL fun and games though for Donny… as she heads off to jail, it’s revealed that he impregnated his teacher, and now he will need to raise the child as soon as he turns 18. In the meantime, the baby will be the responsibility of Donny’s neglectful father, which is no bed of roses, either.
Flash forward 30 years or so, and his son (Andy Samberg) has disowned him. Donny, of course, was unfit to be a single parent, and his early brush with fame retarded his maturation. Now he’s a crass, juvenile, alcoholic boor of a man who faces a jail sentence for tax evasion. When he discovers that his son has made good and is about to get married, he tracks him down, uninvited, to see if he can get assistance in clearing up his IRS debt. Of course, this winds up being a recipe for disaster, as Donny doesn’t fit in well with the well-to-do crowd and he has to make up a shaky cover story (his son had been saying his father died). There’s also a major storm brewing as Donny begins to get wistful over not having a good relationship with his son, and tries to establish one… the only way he knows how.
In a way, this is the role that Sandler fans have been waiting for since the late 90s. Enough with this sad attempt at family comedy, please, and no more “Character” comedies like Jack and Jill. This is just Sandler playing an immature asshole and doing his stupid laughing and dumb accents through a debauchery filled movie. It’s not exactly high art, but it’s what he does best, if anything.
Additionally, there are some genuinely funny moments scattered throughout. The movie has lots of fun with the concept of a 13 year old father… naming his son Han Solo, for example, or the fact that he lets his child get an enormous, regrettable tattoo. Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges show up, being good sports and playing themselves as the ultimate washouts. There’s also a bachelor party sequence that’s a lengthy, lecherous bacchanal with memorable moments… there are some things I saw that I don’t think I’ll be able to unsee.
Unfortunately, the movie is all over the place in terms of consistency, as typical of an Adam Sandler offering. Just when you’re laughing along with a scene, you’ll get a cross-eyed Nick Swardson appearance, or a super immature joke that fails, and thus you’re just left with the super immature. There are also some plot points that I could have easily lived without, although there’s nothing too offensive or egregious… but at one point I did think that with a little bit of script work and if Adam Sandler lost his stupid fake accent “voice” his insists on having in every movie, this comedy might have had some real potential.
At its best, “That’s My Boy” is a party movie with scattered moments of truly funny outrageous acts. When its bad, it’s nothing but Adam Sandler and his friends acting brain damaged in a movie that has no trouble dipping into the humor kiddy pool.