Sunday, June 17, 2012

That's My Boy: An Average Tasting Berger

     Donny Berger, the loudmouth, obnoxious character that Adam Sandler portrays in That's My Boy, is all Boston accent and beer-drinking: a man on a mission to see how many Budweiser's he can drink down his throat and how many breasts he can fondle at the strip club before noon. Donny is also a slightly different character for Sandler lately, who rarely oversteps the PG-13 boundary, probably because of box office earnings--and it shows: the R-rated newest comedy from Happy Madison productions totally tanked in monetary terms this weekend. Does anyone remember how great Adam Sandler was in some of his earlier work? Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were funny and weird, showcasing a man-child humor with surprising laughs. Although That's My Boy is a step in the correct direction for Sandler (there is nowhere to go but up after Jack and Jill), and you have to admire his persistence in creating and portraying a character with such incredible crass conviction, the film is ultimately just a two hour diversion that would be best enjoyed with a high blood-alcohol content.
      Donny is a guy who is stuck in the past: with a shaggy haircut, shouting the '90's staple "Wassssssssssssssuuupppp!!!" to anyone within fifty feet, he's like an aging rocker whose mind never left the glory days. You always see Mark Wahlberg force his Boston accent in every film he's in. There's no telling if Sandler is forcing his version, as it's usually slurred or screamed due to his incredibly drunken state. "20's my limit", he states, in one of the best lines of the film. You can say that Sandler surely is committed to this role: he never falters, never gives into normalcy, always in a state of semen and beer-filled bliss, masturbating as often as cracking a new beer. Anybody who lived his childhood might end up like this: when Donny was 12, the time in his life when seeing a vagina in Playboy was more important than eating or breathing, his 22-year-old luscious-breasted teacher, Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri) seduced him into an affair, causing a pregnancy and eventually a jail sentence (for her). It also causes Donny to become a quasi-celebrity, a Kardashian with a cock who reaches a level of relevance on par with Vanilla Ice (who plays a small, useless role later in the film).
     This sexy teacher eventually gave birth to their son, who Donny named Han Solo (Andy Samberg). Once Han Solo reached a certain age, though, he left home due to Donny's parenting skills (having to drive Donny's drunken body around at a young age, among other reasons). He also picked up a new name, Todd, to not attract unwanted attention about being the fetus of a statutory rape case. Todd falls in love and becomes a hedge(hog)fund manager, and when Donny realizes that he owes over $40,000 dollars to the IRS, he decides to crash his long-lost son's wedding weekend.
     So Donny reenters Todd (Han Solo)'s life, and occasional (not often enough) hilarity ensues at the Cape Cod mansion where the wedding festivities take place. The film follows a typical path and never particularly surprises or excites. Han Solo, who is skeptical of his dad's new-found love, seems to be the only person who can see through Donny's shtick: everyone else loves him, handing him beers and pats on the back at every turn. The film's best sequence is about in the middle of its run time, when Todd brings Donny along to a spa bachelor party filled with massages and cucumber-infused water. Donny doesn't put up with that metro-sexual shit: as sexual jokes and obnoxiousness reach a fever pitch, he brings the group to a strip club for an actual good time. Samberg plays Todd as an uptight people-pleaser, but eventually he starts to succumb to Donny' wild and crazy ways. Maybe Donny, deep inside his thick barrier of beer and self assurance, really has changed his ways and wants to be the father he never was, instead of just looking for a way to pay off the IRS.
     That's My Boy was directed by Sean Anders, the writer of 2010's great comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine. One could conceivably pose a question: what is it about Hot Tub that makes it superior to Adam Sandler's latest effort? For one, Hot Tub is more real. That might seem like a funny statement, since the film is about a group of friends travelling back in time by sitting in a bubbling hot tub and getting wasted. But the characters, with their real life problems, their real life loves and losses, and their real life nostalgia present an entirely plausible group of friends who try and recapture a part of their lives that they wish they could have lived differently--Something anyone can relate to. The humor was less forced, the actors far superior.
     By the end of That's My Boy, before the obvious resolution occurs, the film overstays its welcome. The outcome becomes predictable, and the humor becomes phoned in. I half expected Rob Schneider to pop up and scream, "You can do it!" Waiting for the movie to be over will be a common reaction (especially since it's nearly 2 hours long). At this point in time, Adam Sandler films (at least the films where he doesn't act outside of his comfort zone) have become their own genre, a bumbling, gibberish-speaking, fart-joke filled foray into the nether regions of cinema. That's My Boy doesn't come close to being as horrible as his more recent efforts, as critics and haters would lead you to believe. However, for every joke there's an eye roll, and for every plot twist there's a yawn.     (C+)


  1. Man.... I'm glad there are brave men like you out there to watch this crap.

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    1. Neal Kristopher, who's Neal Kristopher? I have no respect for that guy. I don't have anything to prove to that guy. He needs to be forcing himself to come up to where I am, to my level. When you talk about Ice Baby, James Caan, Tony Orlando, guys like that that you really tip your hat, that you can understand. But guys like Neal Kristopher, what? So what? Who are you? Who are you Neal Kristopher to try to test Adam Sandler, a proven player for ten years?