That’s My Boy, Adam Sandler’s latest attempt at making people laugh, is a very strange movie, and one that I walked out of wondering exactly how to approach. On one hand, it’s incredibly generic; the plot is clichéd, the characters are stock, Sandler’s character is often unintelligible, and so on. And yet, despite that, I can’t remember a movie that made me laugh more in the last few years. And that’s counting movies I watched at home. Yes, somehow, That’s My Boy was the funniest movie I can remember seeing.
The plot begins how any good movie should: An inappropriate teacher-student relationship that results in a child. The student will grow up to be Sandler’s character, Donny, while the teacher is put in jail for 30 years. The child, named Han Solo (Andy Samberg), leaves home at 18, tells people his parents died in an explosion, and eventually becomes a pretty successful lawyer. He’s actually about to be married to the lovely Jamie (Leighton Meester), and has the rest of his life to look forward to.
That is, until Donny shows up to wreak havoc, with beer always firmly in hand. See, Donny neglected to pay his taxes for the last 15 years or so, and owes the IRS $43,000. If he doesn’t come up with the money by Tuesday, he’s going to prison for three years. He’s figured out a plan to get $50,000, but he needs his son’s cooperation in order to get it. You see where this is going, considering Donny and Han Solo — now called “Todd Peterson” — haven’t spoken in approximately a decade. Donny has to win back his son’s affection, while Todd has to learn something from his father, too.
I’m not sure if you could get more clichéd if you tried, and I’m sure the filmmakers did. But because the film is so, so funny, I didn’t care. After the first twenty minutes, which were funny but also clumsy and awkward, That’s My Boy takes off and I’m not sure if there was more than a minute gap between laughs. It’s entirely possible that I’m just depraved enough to find this kind of thing funny, and that most of the people who go to see it won’t, but I know that I laughed throughout.
Now, as for the kind of humor that That’s My Boy has, it’s all over the place, but whatever direction it takes in any given scene, it pushes boundaries. That seemed to me to be the entire point of the film: Push as many boundaries of your R rating as you can; see how much you can get away with. It’s a vulgar movie that completely disregards political correctness and decency. You watch to see just how far the movie will go, and rest assured that it’ll go all the way down the alleyway.
I’m not sure if you can call his appearance the highlight — there are a bunch of memorable moments — but Vanilla Ice shows up for a few scenes to remind us that (1) he still exists and (2) he actually could have a future as an actor if he so chooses. His scenes are all funny, and he has a fairly decent chemistry with Adam Sandler. Granted, I can only think of one or two scenes that weren’t funny in one way or another, but seeing Vanilla Ice appear in this as much as he did was enjoyable and somewhat unexpected (I thought it was going to be just a cameo).
It all boils down to this: The cast knows their comedic timing, the director, Sean Anders, knows how to get the most laughs out of David Caspe’s screenplay, and Adam Sandler drove the bus, allowing it all to come together. And I’m someone who usually doesn’t like Sandler’s movies. But here, I just couldn’t stop laughing. Maybe the infectious theater got to me, but I couldn’t help myself. I had such a good time with That’s My Boy that I have to recommend it, even if much of it isn’t all that special.
For instance, the plot is basic and clichéd, and apart from one late-game twist, you’ll know how most of these scenes will end as soon as they begin. It’s about the journey, not the destination, for most of them. And if you like low-brow, incredibly stupid comedy, then you owe it to yourself to see That’s My Boy. Because you will laugh, and you will laugh often. Most of the theater I saw it in did, even if there were also many gasps and moments of disbelief scattered throughout as well.
I still don’t really like Sandler, and I eventually found him a little irritating. The weird voice combined with the manchild demeanor turned me off, and he got fewer laughs than his costars. Samberg often played very awkward, which worked fine, and Meester was actually the least emotional person in the movie, which surprised me considering she’s generally pretty good. Maybe raunchy comedy just isn’t for her. The various other actors who make an appearance throughout all get a bunch of laughs, and you’ll walk out with more than a few lines stuck in your head.
That’s My Boy is the funniest movie I’ve seen in ages. It’s also one of the stupidest, most obnoxious, least politically correct, and most daring — for a comedy, that is — as well. The R-rating is really the only reason that this movie works as well as it does, because you tell this same story with a PG-13, and you’re not getting many laughs. All of those come from the boundary pushing material included within, and if you like that sort of stuff, this is almost a must-see.