Look, I’m not above this.
This review contains spoilers.
A few weeks ago, Bryant, Stefan and I decided to forego human interaction and assist in the destruction of The Video Store by hitting up the Red Box for a couple movies. We rented Argo, which was fantastic, of course— you don’t need me to tell you that. But Stefan remembered the “DVD NIGHT” code which would net us a free DVD. We already had Argo in our cart on blu-ray, so what would our DVD be? Why not go to the total opposite end of the film spectrum and rent That’s My Boy?
I can feel Mark hating me from here.
Bry and I had seen the trailer a while back on the Apple TV. Bry liked the sight gag of a stretched-out New Kids on the Block tattoo, and I’m a sucker for party scenes cut to LMFAO songs. So why not?
Adam Sandler is Donny, an 80s has-been whose claim to fame was knocking up his hot teacher, Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino), when he was thirteen. The only person in the film (aside from the viewer) who seems remotely horrified by this relationship is the judge who sentences her. The film itself chooses to play the statutory rape in the unfortunate “it’s cool if you’re a dude and she was hot” way, complete with Donny and Ms. McGarricle getting caught in the act by a full auditorium that erupts into applause.
After spending the first 15 minutes or so squirming in our seats, we blessedly flash forward to present day. Older, washed up Donny parties with strippers, still gets recognized on the streets as the kid who banged his teacher (really?), and still visits his sweetheart, Ms. McGarricle, in prison. I would love to say that the film is suggesting that Donny was damaged by his relationship with his teacher and has had trouble growing up, but it doesn’t seem that deep.
Despite my disgust at the entire premise behind the character, the casting for Ms. McGarricle is fantastic. In the present day, middle-aged teacher is played by Martino’s real life mother, Susan Sarandon.
I’m not sure being hot in prison makes you that happy.
But while Donny was living the good life, he apparently forgot to keep up with his taxes. His lawyer, Jets coach Rex Ryan (who has so much Patriots memorabilia around his office that I had to look him up to see why that was a joke. Answer: because New York and Boston), tells him he’s got a week to come up with forty grand for Uncle Sam.
Enter the titular “my boy”. The offspring of thirteen year old Donny and the incarcerated Ms. McGarricle, Todd (né Han Solo, played by Andy Samberg), is now a successful businessman who has done everything he can to distance himself from his unfortunate beginning. Donny has a plan to cash in on his celebrity to pay off his taxes— trick Todd into a reunion show with him and his mother on a sleazy talk show. Of course, since this is a pretty paint-by-numbers movie, Todd is about to get married to some pretty, young, “really, she’s with you?” woman (Jamie, played by Leighton Meester) from a nice family with a requisite saucy grandmother. Donny just won’t fit into the picture.
When Donny crashes in on Todd, Todd tells his future in-laws that he’s is an old friend who once saved his life. Jamie’s family, of course, takes to Donny right away, and Todd continues to feel like a fish out of water. Donny begins to suspect that Jamie is cheating on Todd, and enlists 80s pal Vanilla Ice (because why not) to help him investigate.
I feel like you probably know where it goes from here. Well, mostly. There is one surprise in the film, involving Jamie’s brother, Chad (Milo Ventimiglia), that makes the statutory at the beginning merely stomach-churning by comparison.
Along the way, James Caan shows up as a Satantic Irish-Catholic priest, for some reason, and punches Andy Samberg around. Nick Swardson plays (I think?) a mentally challenged stip club goer, Colin Quinn is barely there as the strip club DJ (but hey, it was nice to see him), and Ciara is the strip club’s inexplicably gorgeous bartender.
Gross-out humor abounds. There’s an excruciatingly prolonged scene of Sandler masturbating to both old and recent photos of the aforementioned saucy grandmother. Donny throws Todd a debauched bachelor party which is two parts fun and one part blech. There’s an old, heavyset stripper who shoots a tennis ball from under her skirt with the accompanying *pop* sound effect (get it? It’s usually a ping pong ball but not this lady!) . But there’s some heartfelt father-son bonding along the way, until Todd discovers the real reason for Donny’s sudden reappearance in his life.
They fight, Todd wants Donny out of his life, Donny leaves and finds out Jamie is a truly disgusting person, wins Todd’s affection with this knowledge, Todd re-becomes Han Solo, Han Solo realizes Ciara is cute, and Donny wins a bet on a fat guy in a race to solve his $40,000 tax problem. Tah dah!
I like Adam Sandler. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, and I certainly don’t seek out his movies, but he reminds me a little of one of my uncles and seeing him on the screen soothes me. The sheer way he pronounced two words in the film got the biggest laughs from Bryant, Stefan and I, so much so that we rewound it repeatedly and actually quote it to each other, even though those words are just “fat guy”.
I was talking with my friend Shannon recently about some other terrible movie, and she described it as a “group movie”, meaning that it really wasn’t going to be funny unless you were watching it with a bunch of people. That’s My Boy is definitely one of those movies. It’s not good. It’s somehow almost two hours long. It tackles a lot of complicated social taboos with zero finesse or sensitivity. But I didn’t hate it. Like Todd, I feel forced to accept that yes, maybe I find Adam Sandler funny and charming, and that maybe I’m not as sophisticated as I thought I was.
I’ve learned something about myself.
photos from imdb.