I wasn't looking forward to Adam Sandler's latest. My patience for the man had long since worn out before Jack & Jill, the worst comedy of this year, arrived where I described him here as the worst thing to happen to comedy since the Epic Movie fools. Where do you go from that? The worst thing to happen to life since death is a bit harsh, right? It was to my surprise then when That's My Boy turned out to be not as bad as Jack & Jill - it's still bad but just not as bad.
Back in 1986 a young Adam Sandler (Justin Weaver) had a fling with his teacher that resulted in her imprisoned and Sandler saddled with their baby. Fast forward to today and Sandler owes the IRS close to fifty large; there is only one thing for it: sell a reunion with his estranged son and imprisoned former lover to a sleazy reality TV show. The only thing is his son, Andy Samberg, has done everything he can to bury the terrible secret of his parentage and is preparing to marry the rich Leighton Meester. But then boorish dad turns up…
I don't even know what's supposed to be funny in an Adam Sandler movie any more. Here's a following exchange that takes place early on:
Random guy: Why don't you just Facebook him?
Adam Sandler: I can't afford that.
Is that funny? I honestly don't know but when it comes to Sandler of late but as a rule I always err on the side of no. This is just lazy stuff: 'Whassssuuuuuuup' is rolled out for supposed irony (there's a more sinister reason for its appearance but more of that in a mo). It's crude, it's annoying, it's predictable and annoying. Wait, I already said that. It's annoying x2. It's annoying squared.
But then something strange happens. There's a fifteen-minute stag sequence that manages to be funny - maybe it's the script from Scrubs-meets-Friends manic sitcom writer David Caspe and direction from Sex Drive director Sean Anders (regular Sandler director Dennis Dugan is too busy prepping Grown Ups 2 - yes, that's actually happening) but the quality is definitely upped. The few cameos - one you already know about - get the laughs they're after. Plus, it's got a bit of heart. That's the one-and-a-half stars you see above. (This is a very technical review, isn't it? If there was a good joke at twenty-seven minutes and another at seventy-two, then it might be a two star movie.)
After the stag sequence it's as you were. The lazy crudeness (vomit and semen jokes) returns, Nick 'Sandler is the only person who hires me' Swardson shows up and there's the endless parade of product placement. Sandler here is a walking advertisement for Anheuser-Busch, sipping from their beers every opportunity he can; one beer had the 'Whassssuuuuup' campaign. If that doesn't make you angry, well.
My beef with Adam Sandler is that I know he could be in better comedies but he's just not interested. Why should he when we keep going to see his bad ones?