That’s My Boy

Adam Sandler movies have often been a mixed bag. For every “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates” there are several forgettable offerings like “Little Nicky”, “I Now Prounounce You Chuck and Larry”, and “8 Crazy Nights”. To be fair there’ve also been several guilty pleasures such as “Happy Gilmore” and “The Waterboy” along the way. Sadly, his recent offerings, culminating in the disastrous “Jack and Jill”, have given me very low expectations for his new film “That’s My Boy” which pairs Sandler with former Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg.

Sandler stars as Donny, a down-on his luck former celebrity who gained notoriety after impregnating his teacher at 13. While the teacher (Eva Amurri Martino) went on to a 30-year prison sentence, Donny used his notoriety to become a pop culture sensation. Unfortunately for Donny fame was fleeting and he wasted the money he had accumulated along the way. We soon learn Donny faces a prison sentence unless he comes up with $45,000 to pay back taxes.

Desperate, he turns to his estranged son Todd (Andy Samberg), who has pretty much disowned his father and does not even go by is given birth name. Todd is about to marry a socialite named Jamie (Leighton Meester), and since he is a numbers genius with an extremely bright future with a partnership pending, the arrival of his crude, drunken father, is a disaster in the making. Passing himself off as long-lost friend, Donny attempts to reconnect with his son and naturally this happens over some very vulgar and awkward moments, not all of which are limited to bachelor party scenes.

Of course anybody who has seen any of Sandler’s films will know the formula that follows: crude situations followed by conflict, mixed with celebrity cameos and an ’80s soundtrack tossed in with a few laughs along the way towards a tidy ending. To say that there is a definite formula to his films would be an understatement and Sandler gives the impression that he’s making up many of the scenes as he goes along, all the while sporting a hybrid Boston/Little Nicky accent.

What ultimately sells the film is the energy and effort that the cast puts into their performances. While the plot can be charitably described as disjointed, there are several scenes that are LOL-inducing, especially those with James Caan as an angry priest and with Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges lampooning their faded glory.

While the film is a bit cruder than most of Sandler’s usual fare it is, for the most part, good-natured and lighthearted. Obviously nobody is expected to take the film seriously. Samberg does a good job playing the restrained uptight Todd, and in the scenes where he lets loose, shows solid working chemistry with Sandler.

While it is not a great cinematic comedy it certainly has more than its fair share of laughs along the way, just as long as you’re willing to overlook the lackluster plot and uneven pacing of the film.

2.5 stars out of 5