A film review by Craig J. Koban October 23, 2012
THAT'S MY BOY
2012, R, 116 mins.
2012, R, 116 mins.
Adam Sandler: Donnie / Adam Samberg: Todd / Leighton Meester: Jamie / Eva Amurri Martinio: Mary
Directed by Sean Anders / Written by David Caspe
Only in an Adam Sandler comedy – and I use that descriptor ever so loosely – is pedophilia, incest, and statutory rape amusing. Yet, THAT’S MY BOY - the newest perpetuation of Sandler’s own increasingly nauseating brand of unnecessarily crude and unfunny comic hijinks - just may be his most toxically unfunny, lewd, tasteless, vulgar, and offensive screen screen comedy to date. After seeing cinematic train wrecks like JACK AND JILL and JUST GO WITH IT I thought that Sandler could not stoop any lower. Well...he can.
only takes a mere few minutes before THAT’S MY BOY degenerates into
puerile gags involving penises, handjobs, boobs, and homophobia…and then
it proudly parades towards its truly offensive material that made me feel ill
and worthless for watching it. We are introduced to a young boy named Donnie Berger, a
Bostonian middle-school student from 1984 that is seduced by his very
alluring teacher (Eva Amurri Martinio, and if you think that she looks like a dead ringer
for a young Susan Surandon, it’s largely because she is her real-life
daughter). One day while
is forced to stay after class she begins to unbutton her blouse, show some
cleavage, and lures him into having sex with her.
type of deplorable material is…funny?
amusing about a sex-starved adult luring in a minor to fulfill her carnal
desires? Also, consider if
the genders were reversed and the teacher was an amorous man and the
student was an innocent girl…would it still be laugh-out-loud
hysterical? After the teacher
has her way with Donnie she continues to sleep with him on multiple
occasions, not to mention that she flirts with him while they both are in
a packed classroom. At one
would-be-hilarious point she gives him back his exam paper with a cute
little note that says “I’m gonna sit on your face tonight” written
by the grade. At this point,
I found myself wearily slumping into my theater chair.
extra-curricular sextivities with his uber hot teacher is eventually
discovered by school officials, which leads to her arrest and
imprisonment…but she goes to the slammer packing Donnie’s baby in her
belly. She gets 30 years in
the slammer while Donnie gets his new baby boy, which he names Han Solo
Berger. Donnie was such an
irreproachably awful father that Han (who eventually renamed himself Todd,
played as an adult by Adam Samberg) decided to severe ties with his old man forever.
He went on to become a successful hedge fund manager with a trophy
wife-to-be (Leighton Meester). Donnie
(played as a middle-aged lothario by Adam Sandler) is now a down-on-his
luck bum that owes the IRS $40,000 and does not have a nickel to his name.
He does discover that his estranged son is to be wed, so he
decides to crash their plans in hopes of convincing Todd to help him
settle his bill with the government or come with him to visit his mother
in prison, which will be covered by a sleazy tabloid show producer that
will pay Donnie big money to bring the three of them together in front of
the camera. Along the way,
Donnie hopes to win his son's affection back, which may not be so
easy when he is essentially trying to use him for financial gain.
the unmistakable dreariness of the film’s underlining premise is not
enough to send normal filmgoers fleeing for the exits, then Sandler’s
portrayal of Donnie certainly will. Sandler
has been known for playing roles with a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard level
of self-congratulatory obnoxiousness, but Donnie here perhaps is his most
egregiously infuriating persona yet.
He’s got all of the typical traits of the quintessential
Sandlerian character – anger management issues, an unhealthy libido, a
weird haircut, an exasperatingly annoying voice, a manchild penchant for
dirty mischief, and…yes…he has a buddy played by the talentless Nick Swardson
– but he becomes an even more infuriating person for his chronic
alcoholism, boneheaded stupidity, and multiple usages of the f-bomb in
is a loser. Pure and simple.
Yet, he miraculously manages to win over Todd’s future in-laws
with his “charm” and reviving the pop-culture salutation
“Waaasssup” that makes him an instant hit with everyone around him.
Right. How any person
resembling a human being would spend more than a millisecond with this
disagreeable cretin strains even modest credulity, but only in the warped and
perverted fantasyland of a Sandler comedy do his characters come off as
crowd-pleasing winners. Donnie
is such a trite, mean-spirited, lewd, racist, misogynistic, and
wholeheartedly depraved human being that I wanted to delouse the movie
screen. It’s equally sad to
see Sandler bring down a talented comic actor like his co-star Samberg
(see HOT ROD and CELESTE
AND JESSE FOREVER) down to his level.
MY BOY is a barren and desolate minefield of comic desperation.
Its jokes and gags range from mediocre to borderline insulting.
Women in particular seem to be rather shamefully targeted and
exploited: we see a chronically obese woman that works as a pole dancer
that likes to eat while she works; another stripper that works in the same
joint (that Donnie frequents) has her head in traction, which supposedly
makes her funny to look at, even when she’s performing oral sex on one
of her clients. We also are
offered up Todd’s future brother-in-law, an ultra-unhinged and shell
shocked soldier that’s a psychotic gay-hating brute, not to mention his
mousy grandmother that likes to talk dirty and is sinfully promiscuous.
Beyond that, we get obligatory Sandler-brand comedy involving
pratfalls directed at ethnic minorities, poolside erections, obsessive
masturbation, semen-filled Kleenex stuck to ceilings, and - the pièce
de résistance - a final kick-to-the-groin subplot involving incest that Sandler et al thinks is a riot.
I'm not laughing.
I'm not laughing.
not much more I can possibly say about THAT’S MY BOY beyond calling it a
fruitless and head-shaking attack on good taste.
I hated this movie. I
hated its humor. I hated its coarseness.
I hated how it tried to spin the worst aspects of human behavior
into something to chuckle at. I
hated its characters. I
hated the film’s frequent X-rated sitcom-worthy contrivances that
befell the characters. I hated
that it was two hours long. Most
importantly, I hated, hated, hated that this film had a
mind-blowing budget of $75 million. That’s a seven followed by a five followed by six zeroes.
JUST GO WITH IT and JACK AND JILL were not cheap either; combined,
Sandler’s last three films cost $235 million to produce and all three
are among the worst films I’ve seen in recent memory.
Everyone associated with THAT’S MY BOY should be ashamed of
themselves…especially considering that it also managed to nab two Oscar-nominated
and convince them to participate. You
know who you are; shame on the both of you.