‘That’s My Boy’ in the running for worst Sandler film

By Gary Clift

We got into a heck of an argument. I made the mistake of saying that maybe the worst Adam Sandler movie was “Just Go With It” (2011),  in which Sandler plays a medical doctor who takes his fiancee and Jennifer Aniston, who pretends to be his ex-wife, to Hawaii. It was certainly a joyless and contrived motion picture.

A friend insisted that “Jack and Jill” (also 2011), the movie in which the former “Saturday Night Live” comedian plays both himself and his sister is even less funny and memorable. But now that we’ve seen Sandler’s latest, “That’s My Boy,” we may want to reconsider what’s worst.

Like most of the comedian’s most recent movies, “That’s My Boy” follows a familiar formula. In it a sort of middle-aged version of Sandler’s character from “Little Nicky” (also really bad) romps through some vulgarity, fails the other character he loves, and then, relying on a hip granny and a past-it music star, he wins back the admiration of the object of his affection.

Remember “The Wedding Singer” (1998)? Remember the rapping granny and the sudden inclusion of Billy Idol? Well, here the music celebrity is Vanilla Ice. And what the old woman does is considerably more risqué than rapping.

In fact, the formulaic “That’s My Boy” will be remembered for being ribald if it is remembered for anything at all. Now here’s the question for moviegoers: is an adult having sex with a thirteen-year-old potentially funny or not? Is incest just racy material or is it actually repulsive?

If you can imagine yourself laughing at Mary Kay Letourneau’s seduction of one of her students, “That’s My Boy” has a chance to amuse you.

But even if the idea of brother and sister copulating the night before her wedding could possibly be a comedic subject for you and the idea of an eighty-five-year-old taking two fifty-year-old men to her bed doesn’t offend you, this Sandler movie is no sure winner. It isn’t consistently funny. However, there is one joke introduced early and returned to late that may please even moviegoers who are put off by the film’s insistence on making light of distasteful material.

Sandler plays Donny, a kid who is seduced by a junior high teacher. She is impregnated and caught. Time passes. Donny has been a bad father who has encouraged his son, Han Solo Berger (Andy Samberg) to eat poorly and get a New Kids on the Block tattoo on his back. As an adult, then, Han has changed his name, hidden from his father, has become a successful hedge fund manager (inevitably), and has asked Jamie (Leighton Meester) to marry him.

On the other hand, Donny needs $43,000 to pay off the IRS or he will be going to jail shortly. A t.v. host offers him the money if he will stage a reunion between his kid and the still-imprisoned Miss McGarricle. But this happens on the weekend of the wedding. And as is always the way with wedding comedies, sub-cultures clash and heinous truths come to light.

Among the stars playing cameos here are James Caan, Tony Orlando (as a villain—figure that), Susan Sarandon, Todd “Willis” Bridges, one of football coach Buddy Ryan’s sons, a couple of ESPN presenters, Adam Thicke, and a couple of Sandler’s recurring minor co-stars.

Because Sander is playing so broad, there is an interesting clash between his character’s world and the seeming reality of Samberg’s character’s. But it turns out the son’s friends are just as, well, eccentric as are the father’s. So besides the one joke which depends on the audience forgetting, there really isn’t much here to enjoy. Unless you think sex with kids is comic, “That’s My Boy” is going to seem one of the worst of Sandler’s increasingly un-funny films.

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