That’s My Boy is a disgusting, vile, and utterly irreverent film that celebrates bad decision making, bad parenting, and worst of all, bad people. The real feat though is how Adam Sandler and his clan of middling comics manage to make this raunchy comedy sporadically enjoyable. Chastise this morally repugnant picture all you please, Sandler finally (after a string of wretched comedies) returns to his true form of blending juvenile delinquency with family warmth.
Directed by Sean Anders (responsible for 2008′s pitiful endeavor, Sex Drive), the crux of That’s my Boy is an inappropriate student-teacher relationship that resulted in a child. Jump 20 years ahead and Todd (Samberg) is beginning to lay plans for a future of his own, with marriage in the offing to long-term girlfriend Jamie.
Everything seems to be going as planned until father Donny (Sandler) unexpectedly resurfaces a few days before the wedding day. With guests under the impression Todd’s father died in an accident many years ago, our protagonist goes through remarkable efforts to keep Donny from spoiling his future.
In contrast to much of the humour, the film goes through some rather generic “marriage film” material. There are more than a few unnecessarily filthy toasts, a slue of plot twists (some of which make other characters vomit), and a bevy of high and low points between the father and son relationship. There’s also a middling backstory whereby Donny is sentenced to jail the Tuesday after the wedding if he can’t pay the $40,000 he owes in back taxes. That’s what propelled him to seek out his son and persuade him they should go visit his mother (jailed herself) for a reality TV show.
What dominates That’s My Boy is laughter, although it’s lowest common denominator stuff. At one point masturbation sequence that leads into something more than just self pleasure, a cameo from Vanilla Ice as Todd’s uncle and flashback to his dreadful upbringing. What I found entertaining about That’s My Boy – a film that I’d typically reject and label as trash (in many ways it still is) – is the bizarre autobiographical nature of the Donny Berger character to Adam Sandler’s career. Berger is a 40-year-old man who hasn’t grown up and continues to act as if he’s still a hormonal, pubescent teenager. Sandler too continues to make movies the public responded to a decade ago but have now grown out of and he’s yet to find a new audience. If anything, he’s become even more crass.
Perhaps this is the last straw, perhaps Sandler will go forth and explore the talent we’ve seen in other films, or perhaps That’s My Boy serves as an at times enjoyable, morally bankrupt reminder that Sandler, much like many of us, has no interest in changing his ways.