That’s My Boy
Directed by Sean Anders
Written by David Caspe
Starring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Vanilla Ice, James Caan, Susan Sarandon, et al
Rated R for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use
Running Time of 116 Minutes
There are two important things to know about That’s My Boy. The first is that it co-stars Vanilla Ice as himself. The second is that its premise is derived from a scenario involving statutory rape. Adam Sandler has appeared in R-rated films before (Funny People, Punch Drunk Love, Bulletproof) but his career has mostly been centered on idiotic and safe PG-13 comedies that aim low and oftentimes don’t even hit that mark. Arguably, That’s My Boy is the raunchiest film Sandler has ever appeared in, and it hearkens back to the days of his stand-up albums and 90s debauchery. None of this is necessarily a good thing.
That’s My Boy is a film from the past. Although Sandler appears to be his current age, it is almost as if this is a lost film from the 90s that is just now being released. Nostalgia and references are one thing, but this film is dependent on comedy scenarios and jokes that may have been surprising and relevant at one time but now come off as old and stale. There is not a single joke in this film that hasn’t been executed before with more joy and cleverness. This is a film utterly devoid of intelligence or self-respect. Any and all raunchy jokes and scenarios are thrown to the wall in the hopes that something will stick.
The plot is basic and it has the requisite emotional undercurrent that all R comedies seem to have today, but none of it works because the characters are joyless, awful human begins. Sandler’s Donny is one of the most annoying characters he has ever played, and that is saying a lot for a man that starred in The Waterboy and Eight Crazy Nights. Andy Samberg mugs and screeches throughout the film but proves that he may be best served in small doses. I don’t see him having a legitimate film career. The rest of the cast is filled with so much talent (and Vanilla Ice!) for the film to simply become embarrassing. James Caan, Susan Sarandon, Tony Orlando, Milo Ventimiglia, Meagan Fay, Will Forte, and Blake Clark all appear in this film and give perhaps the worst performances of each of their careers. Director Sean Anders (new to the Sandler stable) made the amusing and clever raunchy comedy Sex Drive, and writer David Caspe created the hilarious tv series Happy Endings so I’m honestly not sure what happened here. Sandler and his team of producers and necessary co-stars (Nick Swardson appears, of course) must have infected the talents of both Anders and Caspe. They deserve better.
It may seem like I hate Adam Sandler. I don’t. In fact, I’m arguably kinder on him than many other writers, and I’ll freely admit that I enjoy a handful of his later comedies that others trash. I think he is a fairly talented and likable performer when he wants to be, but he seems content to run on auto-pilot. In many ways, though, this is worse than auto-pilot. This is auto-pilot soaked in old beer and sex. It’s dirty and disgusting, it goes on for too long, and it makes little sense. The most important question when talking about a comedy is whether or not I laughed. Did I? Actually, yes. I laughed at That’s My Boy. Not with it. It’s an awful and misguided film, but I guess in its own way it’s kind of funny. Take that for what it’s worth.