For Gamers and Stoners
I'm surprised to see acclaimed veteran actresses Doris Roberts, Shirley Jones and Shirley Knight in a movie like Grandma’s Boy. They deserve better. This crude comedy from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team aims to shock viewers but ends up presenting the type of juvenile humor seen on screen many times over, including situations involving bong and boob mania, flatulence, and unsuspecting people getting accidentally stoned.
Allen Covert (50 First Dates and every other Adam Sandler film except Happy Madison) stars as Alex, a middle-aged video game tester who’s forced to live with his 80-year-old grandmother and her two quirky roommates -- but tells his co-workers they are “three hot chicks.” Ultimately, the collision between Alex’s “roommates” and his work world proves helpful to him after someone steals a video game he’s been secretly developing for about ten years.
“It was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had working on a movie,” claims the Emmy-winning Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), who plays Alex’s Grandma Lilly. “Compared to her roommates, my character is very normal,” she explains. “She gets in a little trouble but not much . . . She doesn’t give in, she doesn’t give up, and she doesn’t take no for an answer.”
When presented with the challenge of Demonic, Alex’s new video game, Grandma Lilly’s persistence pays off. In one of the movie’s few amusing scenes, Roberts shines as she learns how to play her grandson’s new game. I also appreciated the rather sweet grandma/grandson chemistry between Covert and Roberts.
Unfortunately, Jones and Knight don’t fare as well as Roberts. Their roles in Grandma’s Boy are simply too ridiculous. Jones, who won a Best Supporting Oscar for Elmer Gantry, portrays Grace, a sexaholic who has out-lived four husbands. “Quite frankly, the reason I take on a project now,” she admits, “is the chance to play a character I’ve never played before, a character that’s going to challenge me, a character that’s going to say ‘Wow!’ And that’s certainly the case with Grace. It’s a fabulous part.”
Grace may look “fabulous” on paper, but Jones displays none of the enthusiasm expressed above in her portrayal of this sexy senior citizen. Instead, she appears to be reading her lines -- most of which are quite dreadful (i.e. “Charlie Chaplin wasn’t silent after I got through with him.”)
Regarding Knight’s performance, it’s sad to see such a wonderful actress reduced to playing someone like Bea, a spaced-out woman living in her own little world where all kinds of pills sustain her. At least Knight, who has earned two Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations (Sweet Bird of Youth and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs), maintains a sense of humor about her part in Grandma’s Boy. Jokingly placing the blame on Harold Ramis (Stuart Saves His Family) and James Brooks (As Good As It Gets ) for starting her on the road to comedy, Knight explains, “I used to be this very serious actress with all these awards, now I’m just a silly woman. . .Now I get to blame Adam Sandler and all his friends too!”
Grandma’s Boy does manage to evoke a couple of laughs when Alex’s work and private worlds collide. Despite the contrived nature of the wild party sequence at Grandma Lilly’s house, I couldn’t help chuckling over the diversity of characters interacting there. Alex’s Brainasium Company gang includes his best friend (Nick Swardson), a gorgeous new executive (Linda Cardellini), a robot-imitating game creator (Joel David Moore) and a bunch of eager young game testers. A New Age-spouting boss (Kevin Nealon) and a security-obsessed drug dealer (Peter Dante) round out the key people in Alex’s life. Colorful characters? Yes. Hilarious? No.
Although Grandma’s Boy didn’t work for me, it’s a movie some gamers and stoners will probably love.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated “R” for drug use and language throughout, strong crude and sexual humor, and nudity.)