Review: THAT’S MY BOY

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1 (Out of 4 Stars)

There’s not a great deal I can say about this latest entry from Happy Madison Productions.  I absolutely hated this abysmally low brow movie that attempts to find humor in statutory rape, incest, and stupidity.  While not as horrendous as Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, That’s My Boy still felt painful.  When Adam Sandler started making comedy movies, I actually enjoyed his first entries.  I still return to  Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, and The Waterboy.  I applaud that he took some risks and starred in more respectable fare such as the amazing Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, Spanglish, and Funny People.  However, when Sandler would return to his usual brand of comedy, each entry would lower the bar every time.  With That’s My Boy, I believe Happy Madison has hit rock bottom.

Sandler stars as Donny Berger, a man famous only for having sexual relations with his teacher Mary McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino) as a teenager.  The relationship results in the birth of a child before he even finishes high school.  Years later, Donny reunites with his son Todd (Andy Samberg) who’s about to marry his love Jamie (Leighton Meester).  The reunion stirs up some unresolved issues between father and son, and Donny’s wild and carefree lifestyle turns Todd’s world upside down.

Written by David Caspe and directed by Sean Anders, this movie takes every lowest common denominator joke and gag and fails miserably as it should.  Instead of inspired, creatively written humor, Caspe and Anders go for the lowest of the low and attempts at shock and awe.  I certainly felt that as I watched and cringed in my seat. There are a couple of scenes that made me laugh a little, but not enough to save this sinking catastrophe. It makes me really sad that Sandler, who actually has talent, sunk so low.  In the Judd Apatow film, Funny People, he portrays a once promising and talented comic who makes the crappiest movies possible for easy money.  I think Sandler’s buddy, Apatow, was trying to send him a message. He obviously didn’t listen.  Money often speaks louder than reason or love.  Sandler truly has become that character.

He definitely embraces stupidity in his portrayal of the idiotic and sometimes despicable character Donny Berger.  Andy Samberg brings oh so little to his role as the traumatized and neurotic Todd, which I found frustrating, considering how much I have enjoyed his comedy on Saturday Night Live.  The cast includes appearances which can hardly be called performances by Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice, James Caan, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Orlando, Will Forte, Rachel Dratch, and Madison regular Nick Swardson.

The movie features other celebrity cameos intended for laughs, but appearances without writing to utilize them fully offer nothing in terms of comedy.  This goes for low brow, shock and awe gags.  The crappy writing also does nothing with this material.  Part of me actually hoped that with the talented and fresh new co-star Samberg, this movie would somewhat redeem Sandler for his more recent missteps.  Oh I was so wrong!  All this film needed was a decent script.  It had the potential to be an enjoyable comedy, but because it seems like a nine-year-old child wrote this movie, all hope I had was crushed.  Judd Apatow, P.T. Anderson, somebody, please do something!  I may have lost all respect and hope for Happy Madison productions, which I hope disappears forever, but I know in my heart that Adam Sandler can do so much better.

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