Whatever you thought of last november’s Happy Madison joint Jack and Jill (and I sort of thought it was acceptable), you have to admit that it at least gave up on trying to have a family message in favor of being silly.
For Happy Madison patriarch Adam Sandler, that was a good thing. Sandler’s best comedies, the ones he named his production company after, dispensed with morals in favor of obscenely brain-deaf moments like Nudie Magazine Day and admitting to eating pieces of shit for breakfast. That’s where the A-Lister’s sense of humor shines, not in four-quadrant family fart jokes.
Having said that, Happy Madison today makes one of their few entries into R-Rated territory with That’s My Boy – a movie that takes full advantage of its MPAA rating – but it’s not doing much to redefine the Adam Sandler comedy.
Case in point: the plot revolves around a father and his son, a son that was the product of a naughty middle school teacher who started the family with one of her barely pubescent students. After that intro, the story picks up 30 years later as Donny Berger (Sandler) tries to be a better Dad by rekindling his relationship with his estranged kiddo, Todd.
For one, Sandler gives up any notion of being a role model for his character Donny, who after getting famous for his infamous student-teacher relationship, became a minor celebrity. Donny always has a beer in one hand and is usually talking about sex.
It also costars Andy Samberg who, like Sandler, is a former SNL MVP. But, unlike Sandler, he’s maintained a committed sense of humor.
But none of it really pans out. Sander is dirty but frustrating, rarely saying anything that’s more concentrated on being outrageous than gut-busting. And even when he gets a good line in, it’s buried under an irritatingly exaggerated Boston accent.
And Samberg gives it a shot, but he’s playing far outside his wheelhouse here. Todd is everything his inappropriate father isnt – shy, nervous, lame – while Samberg has always excelled with loud, overconfident characters. If anything, Samberg and Sandler should have switched roles.
It’s always too easy to concentrate on what doesn’t work in a Happy Madison movie, so it’s worth pointing out that this one is certainly not without its moments. The prologue of the film sets some truly goofy moments and perverted charms that are hard to resist; and the movie manages to end on an impressively mindless solution.
But in between those and some other hits scattered throughout the film (many of which are courtesy of Will Forte, who can find a laugh in anything), there are too many flat sophomoric moments – wouldn’t it be funny if he jacked off to a picture of an octogenerian?!
As someone that grew up on Adam Sandler movies, I have faith that he is at least on the right path to becoming funny again. But That’s My Boy shows that he’s not in a rush to get there right away.