Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of THAT'S MY BOY (2012)

- Rated R for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.
- Starring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice, James Caan, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Orlando, Will Forte, Nick Swardson, Peggy Stewart, Eva Amurri, Martino, Susan Sarandon
- Written by David Caspe
- Directed by Sean Anders
- Running time: 1hr 55min.

I was never that big of a fan of SNL.  The only reason I ever watched it back in High School (early 90's) was to see the latest grunge band musical guests (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Teenage Fanclub).  I always found the actors incredibly annoying, especially Adam Sandler.  But then something funny happened.  He made BILLY MADISON and I still think it's one of the funniest films of the 90's.  Loved HAPPY GILMORE!  I even liked BULLETPROOF.  WEDDING SINGER was a cute and funny romantic comedy.  But then THE WATERBOY happened, which had Sandler doing an unfunny accent and go deeper into strange humor that was sporadically funny.  From then on it was hit or miss.  I liked BIG DADDY, ANGER MANAGEMENT, and especially BEDTIME STORIES.  But the rest range from not very good, to absolutely terrible.  LITTLE NICKY, MR. DEEDS, 50 FIRST DATES, LONGEST YARD, CLICK, CHUCK & LARRY, ZOHAN, GROWN UPS and JACK AND JILL are nearly unwatchable.  I missed JUST GO WITH IT.  His non-Adam Sandler movies are much better, like PUNCHDRUNK LOVE, SPANGLISH and FUNNY PEOPLE.  After making several watered down PG13 ranchfests, Sandler finally had the balls to make a hardcore R rated comedy.  With Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell making films loaded with F-words for years already, I'm really surprised that it took Sandler this long.

The movie opens with a prologue about a 13 year old boy in the 80's who gets his teacher pregnant.  Then we go to present day with the now grown up teen Donnie (Sandler), a 40 year old drunk and loser who needs 50 grand or else he'll go to jail.  His grown son, whom he named Han Solo, left him when he turned 18 and changed his name to Todd (Samberg), and is a successful businessman.  Donnie tracks him down to try to get the money out of him, but when he finds him, it's a few days before Todd's wedding to a hot but nagging bitch named Jamie.  Todd doesn't want anyone to know that Donnie is his irresponsible dad, so he lies to everyone.  Donnie causes lots of problems for Todd, but of course they're going to connect and bond before the movie is over.

The story outline is a typical sentimental situation comedy, but as usual, Sandler turns the genre on it's ear by churning out endless tasteless jokes.  To be honest, I walked into this movie already hating it as I thought the trailers looked atrocious.  And to be sure, the first 30 minutes are dreadful.  I didn't really laugh at the pre-title sequence and when Sandler first appears on screen doing an awful childish lispy accent, I groaned most audibly.   I don't know why he thinks doing accents are funny (WATERBOY, LITTLE NICKY), cause they're not... at least when he's doing them.  Nevermind that it doesn't make any sense why he sounds like that since the younger version of him didn't have a goofy voice, it's just not funny.

But something strange happened near the halfway point.  I started laughing.  Quite often.  Even when the jokes were bad, I was laughing.  I don't know what was happening to me.  I was very aware what I was watching was not good, but I still laughed.  Take that however you want, I guess.  There's jokes about statutory rape, incest, sex with 90 year old grandmas, licking semen, drinking, shit, drugs, and everything else that is inappropriate.  It was nice to see Sandler go all the way for once in a comedy, but the result is too scattershot to fully recommend.  Some jokes fall flat on their face, like a scene with Vanilla Ice playing himself, but then some had me laughing pretty hard.  But you know it's not that good when you can't even remember what exactly it was that you laughed at.  Cause honestly, I can't remember.  I remember laughing, but not what I was laughing AT.

The movie has a few of Sandler's regulars like Nick Swardson (who is absolutely terrible in this as a redneck patron at a strip club), but for the most part there are mainly newcomers.  Andy Samberg is mostly the straight man who doesn't really get a chance to loosen up.  He does an adequate job though.  The lovely Leighton Meester is very game here tarnishing her virginal image.  Susan Sarandon's daughter has some funny obscene moments in the beginning as the seductive teacher that probably turned me on more than I laughed at it.  Tony Orlando and James Caan have some highlighted moments, but it's Milo Ventimiglia who steals many scenes as Meester's testosterone filled brother.  Sandler himself is very inconsistent as his accent is stronger in some scenes, then not as noticeable in others.  He has some pretty funny lines and moments, but the performance itself is not funny. 

The second half has more laughs than the first.  Even Vanilla Ice becomes funny by the end.  And seeing Todd Bridges smoking a bong... well, there's something about that that just makes me giggle.  In fact, the bachelor party that Donnie throws for his son was probably the best section of the film.  But the movie is far too long, clocking in at nearly 2 hours.  That's ridiculous.  Mindless, juvenile comedies like this don't need to be any longer than 90 minutes.  I have a feeling some people will walk away from this really enjoying it, especially if they were fans of Sandler's comedy albums.  I laughed sporadically throughout, but not enough to call it a successful comedy.  There are too many dead spots, and again, that first half hour is unwatchable.  I think Sandler is on the right track to become funny again, but this doesn't quite make it all the way.  It's a throwaway comedy.  You'll laugh during it, but still leave feeling unsatisfied.

**1/2 (out of ****)

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