The King of the Razzies is at it again! Despite having swept last year’s awards for Worst Picture and Worst Actor of the year, movie studios keep allowing Adam Sandler to make movies. His latest effort, while not nearly as bad as Jack & Jill or Bucky Larson, will still have you cringing at what Sandler seems to consider funny.
It’s hard to say exactly where Sandler ran off the rails. In the early 90’s he was producing movies like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy that many still consider to be comedic classics. But right around the time his company Happy Madison got off the ground, things started taking a turn for the worst. Almost every single film to come out of the company, from Grandma’s Boy to Zookeeper, has ranked very high on the painful meter.
Sadly, That’s My Boy is no different. The concept alone gives great insight into Sandler’s psyche. A young version of Sandler in the mid-80s ends up having a long-term affair with his sexy, middle-aged teacher resulting in him impregnating her at the age of twelve. Instead of portraying this as a bad thing, Sandler sets up an alternate history in which Sandler’s character Donny becomes a huge teen idol throughout the 80’s and 90’s because of the affair. As if things weren’t unrealistic enough, the court decides that teenage Donny should take sole custody of his newborn child, despite being a minor himself.
Flash forward to present day and Donny is now a wash-up who is down to his last dollar. Since he hasn’t paid taxes since the 90’s he finds himself about to go to jail unless he can payback what he owes to the IRS. Enter Todd (played straight by fellow SNL alum Andy Samberg), Donny’s son all grown up. Apparently he moved away at an early age and disappeared, only to reappear again on the cover of Forbes as one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the country. Knowing that Todd might have the money to bail him out Donny heads to reunite with his son the eve of his wedding.
It should be noted that Donny’s character hails from Massachusetts and has one of the most annoying fake accents ever put on film. It’s as if Sandler sat down and honestly tried to come up with the most annoying, insensitive character he could. The only way Sandler manages to let the audience have any sympathy for Donny is by surrounding him by characters even worse. Granted, they never reach the level of annoyance Sandler does, but they are still pretty bad. Imagine a world where the most annoying guy in the room is also the most popular, for no apparent reason.
The biggest victim here is Samberg, he signed on to what seemed like a great creative pairing and ended up as the fall guy. There is literally almost nothing for Samberg to do but react in this film. A creative genius himself Samberg has been compared to Sandler on many occasions, so seeing the two as leads in the same movie should have been amazing. Unfortunately, Sandler’s ego leaves him in the dust and puts Samberg in embarrassing moment after embarrassing moment.
The biggest surprises of the film are the guest stars. James Caan seems to be slumming it as the tough as nails Irish priest that likes to fight, an interesting character but basically useless. It’s never been clear how Sandler somehow gets big name actors like James Caan, Al Pacino, and Johnny Depp to star in these horrible films. A very large sum of money must have exchanged hands, that’s the only explanation.
Marking his second big screen debut is Vanilla Ice, apparently a friend of Donny’s from the good old days. Ice, playing himself, somehow manages to steal the movie. He might be over the top and a bit crazy but at least he’s honest about it. Some of the best lines in the film come directly from him. Other big names from the 80’s and 90’s make appearances as well but most of them are forgettable.
There are many twists and turns throughout the film, most of which don’t make sense. A confrontation between Donny and Todd’s bride-to-be goes into a territory no one will expect and will most likely make you cringe. The climax runs like a raunchy episode of any given 80’s sitcom with a payoff that doesn’t quite deliver.
At this point Hollywood should start treating Adam Sandler like Heidi and Spencer Pratt, if we just ignore him he should eventually go away. Every actor is allowed one or two bad movies, that should be a given. But Sandler is very quickly using up his credibility. How many more painful movies is he going to produce and star in before he gets the picture? Do yourself a favor and skip That’s My Boy.
The movie hits theaters June 15th. Here’s the trailer, in case you’re glutton for punishment!