June 14, 2012

That's My Boy

Time to take those SNL training wheels off...

Grade: F
Director: Sean Anders
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice, James Caan, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Orlando, Will Forte, Nick Swardson, Ciara and Peggy Stewart
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.

The only thought-provoking part of an Adam Sandler comedy (applying that label very loosely) is deciphering the populist appeal of his vile, irksome blights on cinema. My working hypothesis is his most well-received films revel in skewering the privileged class while uplifting the masses and misfits. In That’s My Boy, the corporate and country club set catch Sandler’s ire (at one point, a character literally expels sundry bodily secretions on a Vera Wang wedding dress), while the heroes are beer-swilling ruffians, strippers and washed-up B-listers playing themselves. Todd Bridges? Like I said, misfits.

Unfortunately, it’s also a movie that opens by glorifying pedophilia for guffaws and ends by doing the same with incest. Years after fathering a child with his 8th grade teacher when he was 13 year old, Donny Berger (Sandler), now an insolvent slob and bastardized Bahston caricature, tries to reconnect with his estranged son, the cartoonishly milquetoast Todd Peterson nee Han Solo Berger (Andy Samberg) on the eve of Todd’s wedding to Jamie (Leighton Meester), the requisite Sandler Movie Shrew™.

It’s all part of Donny’s contrived moneymaking scheme to get out of tax trouble, but in the cockeyed world of Sandler, gobs of carousing and inappropriate conduct somehow point to ill-fitting sentimentality. What’s more, the most slovenly, repugnant cretin is inexplicably welcomed with open arms by buttoned-down blowhards just waiting for someone to help release their inhibitions.

Chronicling the film’s many sins—and flat-lined follies—would require an R-rated review. Suffice it to say you know a script has problems when Vanilla Ice has the funniest lines. That’s My Boy levies a taxing onslaught of racist, sexist and scatological bile, laced with enough celebrity cameos to leave you pondering how many of them had access to the entire script (likely answer: none). If this is what passes for populism, consider me a one-percenter.

Neil Morris

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