Gosh, this movie really sucks. But it’s just not enough that it sucks. No, Adam Sandler sees to it that it has to suck in an annoyingly stupid way. As if he’s aiming to claim the moral high ground on suckiness. Better still, like he’s purposefully trying to be the King of Suck!
Maybe we can take small consolation that at least with That’s My Boy we only have to endure one Sandler character and not two, like last year’s turkey, Jack & Jill. That movie swept at the Razzie Awards for the worst Hollywood had to offer last year. Now, we have the front-runner for 2012 with this unimaginative and boring piece of cow dung that at about 15 minutes in you realize is dead in the water.
Where to begin with this foul and mysterious odor of a movie? Sandler plays yet another obnoxious man-child in Donny, a guy made even more repelling because Sandler gives him that nauseating voice he used in Little Nicky. Never mind that he’s unkempt or that he looks like any of the male leads in late-80′s Cher videos, with his rocker coiff lending him an uncanny resemblance to a hairy avocado. It’s that ingratiatingly awful voice that hijacks the entire character. There’s a place for trash at the movies, but it’s a bar not even Sandler appears able to be talented enough to rise up and meet here.
That’s My Boy is promising for the first couple of minutes because we’re taken back to Donny as a teenager, meaning Sandler is thankfully off-screen. Donny wasn’t always such a waste. In fact, as a teenager in this film, he appears to be a handsome young guy with a future ahead of him until he ends up sleeping with his high school teacher and making her his baby-mama. Donny raises the boy, who now goes by Todd (Andy Samberg), until his son turns 18, changes his name and quickly escapes from his life and all the baggage that came along with his dad’s teenaged transgressions.
Flash-forward to Todd at almost 30, on the eve of his wedding to Jamie (Leighton Meester). She’s smart, beautiful, and comes from a well-to-do family, which always makes for an easier target in a comedy involving a white trash fellow in his early 40′s in Donny, who screeches in just in time for hijinks and hilarity to ensue before the wedding, if only the screenwriters had remembered the hilarity part. Donny barges in on dinner with Todd seated with Jamie’s family. When they ask who he is, a stupid charade is concocted on the fly between father and son that Donny is Todd’s best friend. Funny, Jamie had no idea until that moment that Donny had anything to do with Todd’s life. Ho ho ho!
Because all of the actors are made to behave like morons, the charade between Donny and Todd continues the rest of that day and into the wedding day, which is unfortunate for us because we have to endure Donny throwing back one tall boy after another and bringing up every embarrassing moment in Todd’s life in front of Jamie’s family, who find Donny to be a laugh riot, of course, since that makes things more humiliating for poor Todd. Deep down, we know these people would hate this clown. Imagine Mitt Romney actually having to hang out with Joe the Plumber. I was hoping that at the least, a drunk Donny would maybe end up talking like a regular male of the human variety, but no chance of anything ironic like that happening in a movie this hapless.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “This critic is just another snob”. Wrong. A snob is exclusive. I’m inclusive. In my bones and in my roots I have undying affection for the kinds of working-class heroes Sandler continues to make caricatures of. They really are something to be. Look at Richard Pryor in Paul Schrader‘s Blue Collar (1978) for an example of how a good comic actor can play a role like this without judging it the whole time, the way Sandler does.
And what of Samberg as Todd? I’m a loner by trade, but if you put a gun to my head and forced me to admit who I’d most want to have a bromance with, Andy Samberg‘s the man. He’s cool, funny, quick on his feet, radiates genuineness without trying, and has the uncanny ability to be able to transition well between getting behind the steering wheel and being the wingman. All of those gifts are wasted in this movie in a performance that simply requires him to be the butt of Donny’s effing nightmarish sense of humor as a young father, when he had the New Kids On The Block tattooed to young Todd’s back, with their heads stretching higher and higher through Todd’s formative years. He he he! So stupid. I hope Samberg has one of those long, deep talks with his agent about this one.
If it weren’t for films being shown digitally these days, I’d recommend the late Gene Siskel‘s treatment for That’s My Boy; take the film, chop it up into little ukelele picks, and donate them to help children learn how to play an instrument.
You’ve seen this a million times. Every scene feels forced. Every joke falls flat. Every character is straight out of central casting, right down to the little old grandma with the potty mouth that we imagine Betty White must have turned down.
That’s My Boy moves straight to the top of the list for worst movie of the year. What a stinker.
* (out of 4)