I have never really been a fan of Adam Sandler. Though some of his work on SNL was just brilliant, his movie work has been less than stellar. Most of his films have been painfully juvenile but they generate a boatload of cash. Last year, he won more Razzies than any other person with Jack and Jill. With that dip, there is no where to go but up. His newest release is That’s My Boy.
The film starts a few years back and a young Donny is a kid with a crush on his teacher. The two begin a very inappropriate relationship which results in a conceived child. At the trial, the teenager is awarded custody of the unborn infant. Donny becomes an instant hero and celebrity.
We flash forward to today and Donny (Adam Sandler) is a has-been who has never grown up. He drives an old beat-up car (with a bitchin’ Rush 2112 logo on the hood) and hangs out at a strip bar. His accountant tells him that he owes almost $50,000 to the IRS in back taxes. Donny has until the end of the weekend to come up with the money or go to jail.
He discovers that his son Todd (Andy Samberg) is getting married that weekend to Jamie (Leighton Meester). The two men have been estranged since Todd turned eighteen. We soon find that Todd is not the young man’s real name and that he has hidden every aspect of his parents from his current life. A slick TV producer offers Donny the cash if he can get his son to see his mother. Before we can say Wedding Crashers, Donny is off to confront his son.
Once the two get together, the conflicts begin. Todd is the exact opposite of his father. Where Donny is the life of the party and instant winner of friends, Todd is an inept nerd who needs medication for everything. Donny sees that his lack of parenting has not been good for Todd and decides to try and bond with his son, making up for a bunch of lost time. The film is of Donny and Todd becoming closer as all the complications of the wedding day approach. It is also Donny trying to get Todd to visit his mother and the chaos that ensues.
The problem with That’s My Boy falls square on the heads of the leads. Adam Sandler just looks as if he doesn’t care about the quality of the project and Andy Samberg is lost in a character he cannot pull off. Even though some of Sandler’s early work was idiotic, at least one got the feeling that he was trying to entertain and not just going through the motions. Samberg is playing a character so far away from any thing he has ever done before that the stretch shows holes.
One has to wonder how writer David Caspe could have been so lazy in scripting the jokes. The finished writing feels more like outtakes from half a dozen better films. When rapper Vanilla Ice takes a lion’s share of the laughs — that is a sign the production is in trouble. The movie needed a spark of insanity to ignite the merriment but it kept striking wet matches.
There are just a few interesting elements to That’s My Boy. Leighton Meester takes a thankless role and turns in a good performance with some solid comedy. James Caan has a very small role that he makes the most of. There are a few surprising cameos that get a chuckle here and there but revealing the identity would spoil what little fun is in the movie.
This movie is for the Adam Sandler fans and they will eat up every raunchy bit. I found the entire exercise of That’s My Boy just a little sad and depressing. I keep hoping Adam Sandler, like his character Donny, will someday grow up.