That’s My Boy can be best described as the residue left from an Adam Sandler that has stopped living a life of comfortable mediocrity to become the town drunk, grunting dirty jokes to strangers in bars and lurching on anything that appears female. Sandler has joined the trend of comedy writers who are of the opinion that the only way we can be made to laugh is by being presented with jokes and scenarios involving anything and everything related to genitals and farts; and in this instance he seems to be rather shamefully right. If your into crude, infantile humour (which, let’s face it, students are) then That’s My Boy delivers several genuinely funny moments that often dabble in volatile subject areas – including incest and statutory rape – but are often so ridiculous that we are left laughing with disbelief with a hint of guilt rather than simply cringing in condemnation; the latter of which tends to be more common in contemporary American comedy.
It’s pedal to the metal as far as contentious content goes from the offset, with the opening scenes featuring an attractive twenty-something year old teacher – who for a second may fool you into thinking you’ve stumbled into the wrong kind of cinema – being impregnated by a ten-something year old Adam Sandler playing the role of the bizarrely named Donny Burger. Parodying modern celebrity culture, Burger consequently becomes famous for his sexual achievements, but after years of frivolous spending he spends the remainder of the film hanging around with his now successful son (Andy Samberg) in order to try and trick him into appearing in a trash documentary about his dysfunctional parents so Burger can pay off his debts to the IRS.
For a Sandler movie, the gags that have been choreographed are pretty raunchy but it is a relief to see that Sandler hasn’t pushed his irreverent style to the point where it becomes mindless disrespect. The writing is an example of refined stupidity reminiscent to the humour of Family Guy which blended with Sandler’s easy-going, relatable and endearing acting style takes the edge off any jokes that could be perceived as distasteful. However, the nature of the opening scenes certainly feels like Sandler is sprinting blindfolded through a minefield of controversy and certainly risks leading people to think that idolising an underage sexually active schoolboy glamorises underage sex. But if you’re not an easily impressionable little boy who’s planning on sneaking in or a stubborn, belligerent old fart then you may find That’s My Boy to be a surprising experiment in what we can and cannot make fun of in mainstream comedy, and how we should tip-toe around the lion’s den of the easily outraged bourgeois.
Alongside Sandler is Saturday Night Live sensation Andy Samberg in his biggest movie role to date. Rather unfortunately, it’s doubtful that this role will add much credibility to his name due to all the humour being saved for Sandler. Regardless, he plays the semi-serious role of an awkward, insecure, nice-but-shy millionaire rather convincingly; it’s just a shame that Sandler didn’t give Samberg a real chance to shine as the great comic actor he’s shown potential to be. Next time, maybe.
When mentioning to people that Sandler has released a new comedy flick most people will simply groan in disapproval, and justifiably so. Over the past few years, audiences seem to have grown tired of Sandler’s mediocre style and it has been a long time since he has released anything that’s as memorable as The Waterboy or Happy Gilmore. It may be unrealistic to say that That’s My Boy will become a classic, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for Sandler. There’s been a mob of critics quick to shove their pitchforks into That’s My Boy for being yet another dumb, worthless compilation of genital jokes, drunken romps, sleazy strip clubs and lots of bodily fluids; and that may be what it is, but that’s what idiots like us find amusing.