Embarrassingly Stupid Humor
Ever wonder what becomes of the young schoolboys who end up in those real-life teacher/student forbidden relationships that seem to be happening with ever-increasing frequency these days? Adam Sandlerís new film, Thatís My Boy, builds its plot around one such scenario. It begins in the 1980s and involves 12-year-old Donny Berger (Justin Weaver) -- now considered a hero by his school friends -- getting his teacher pregnant and facing the burden of raising the child alone since the adult teacher gets sent to the bighouse for a 30-year work plan.
Of course, itís all played for laughs because what teen boy hasnít dreamed of learning about the birds and bees from his hot teacher? And to further stoke the adolescent fantasies, Donny becomes semi-famous due to his prized trophy tag and makes the Ď80s TV circuit as a B-list celebrity.
However, reality comes calling when, some 30 or so years later, his money is gone, the fame has dwindled to Todd Bridges level, and his son, Han Solo Berger (Andy Samberg), is a rising investment banker now set to become a partner in a high-profile Boston financial firm.
Still the maker of poor decisions, Donny has nothing to his name, so an upcoming IRS payment forces him to pay a visit to his son who bolted years ago and has since changed his name to Todd. Donny figures that getting in touch with his son is the only way to obtain the money he needs to stay out of jail. Tracking down Todd on the eve of his wedding to Jamie (Leighton Meester), Donny crashes the party, turning the wedding weekend into a disaster.
Thereís lowball comedy, and then thereís this new kind invented just for Thatís My Boy. While the latter has been around for a while and enjoying great success by saying or doing anything funny to get a laugh, this new kind takes it one step further by saying or doing anything -- but NOT getting a laugh. Itís difficult to imagine how unfunny this can be, but among the subjects unsuccessfully played for laughs are statutory rape, incest, masturbation, semen, vomit, a wedding dress, vomit and semen ON a wedding dress, and of course the requisite defecation, urination, and flatulence jokes. Oh, and for good measure thereís Vanilla Ice, Todd Bridges, Tony Orlando, NFL coach Rex Ryan, James Caan, and an annoyingly grating Sandler voice. I mean, how can they miss on a movie with Vanilla Ice in it, right? In all fairness, heís one of the filmís highlights.
Following Donnyís unexpected appearance at the wedding, the guests begin to warm to his endearingly wild and crazy temperament. Theyíre willing to forgive him a lot of mistakes and bad judgment because heís just such a fun guy to be around. Plus, most think Todd is a bit too stuffed-shirt and constantly encourage him to loosen up a bit. Then comes the father/son-bonding segment fueled by drinking, strippers, fighting, and violence. This is Sandlerís first R-rated raunch comedy, but those hoping to be entertained by wild sex and plenty of nudity will be largely disappointed as most of the nudity comes in the person of a 350-pound stripper (comedienne Luenell) who plies her craft at Donnyís favorite hangout, a strip club called Classy Rickís Bacon and Legs, locally famous for its strippers who eat breakfast while pole dancing. Funny, huh?
Screenwriter David Caspe and director Sean Anders try mightily to infuse some genuine heart and human emotion into the storyís theme of accepting who you are and where you come from, but they come up short in the battle against embarrassingly stupid humor. And Sandler fails miserably in his struggle to move his crude protagonist beyond a foolish cartoon character. Weíre supposed to believe heís a ladies man. We never do. Heís just an unreal, annoyingly crass jackass with no redeeming qualities.
To be fair, there are a few chucklers here and there, but mostly of the variety that make you feel stupid for laughing or ones related to some inside jokes involving Ď80s and Ď90s has-beens. Sandler humor is quickly descending deeper and deeper into the Valhalla of insignificance with each subsequent release. I suppose that means you should go back and check out Jack and Jill or Grown Ups if you want to laugh at a Sandler movie. It certainly won't happen in Thatís My Boy.
(Released by Sony Pictures and rated ďRĒ for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.)
Review also posted at www.franksreelreviews.com.