If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Adam Sandler's name is mud in Hollywood. His last few films have been complete pieces of crapola, and I myself did not find any enjoyment in them whatsoever. Walking into That's My Boy, I was hesitant but hopeful. The film looked like it could be better than Sandler's other films, but as we all know by now Adam Sandler's batting record is FAR from perfect. So, how was it???
That's My Boy is one of Adam Sandler's most recent films to actually carry a story and a plot in it, and this is one of the reasons this film works better than many of his other recent films. It feels focused, and seems to know where it's going and how it wants to end (it also doesn't feel like a blatent tax write-off/excuse to take a vacation). The plot here follows Donny (Adam Sandler), who had a secret affair with a teacher when he was in his teens and accidentally knocked her up. When the school eventually finds out, she's jailed and Donny's saddled with the baby. Now thrust into stardom due to his illegal fling, Donny struggles to juggle fatherhood and fame. Fast forward 30 years later: Donny is a washed-up slacker who owes the IRA a lot of dough. In an effort to avoid federal prison, he decides to attempt to mooch off his son Todd (Andy Samberg) on the weekend of Todd's wedding. Only problem is that Todd wants nothing to do with Donny.
Adam Sandler stars as Donny, and puts on his first good performance in a while. He is easily believable as the kid that never grew up (big surprise there) and most of the film's humor comes from seeing Donny's reactions to these real life situations he finds himself in . He is indeed very raunchy, but what do you expect from a guy that never got the chance to mature? Despite some character flaws, Donny is still a lovable guy due to his laid back fun loving attitude and also because he actually does have a heart.
Andy Samberg is also pretty good as beleaguered, tight-assed son Todd who blames Donny for ruining his childhood. Todd has manged to craft a pretty good life for himself and is about to marry the girl of his dreams, Jamie (The HAWT HAWT HAWT Leighton Meester). When he discovers that Donny has managed to squeeze his way back into his life, Todd does the natural thing: He panics. Todd makes up a not-so-well-thought-out lie, that Donny is just his best friend. Luckily, this isn't dwelt on all that much, most of the humor coming from elsewhere. Either way, with Donny back in his life, Todd begins to loosen up a bit and learns some lessons from good old dad. This is Andy Samberg's first leading role, and while it's not the best movie to start out with, Samberg still nails the role.
Eva Amurri Martino (good luck remembering that one folks) is super sexy as horny teacher Ms. McGarricle, who successfully seduces young Donny (the film claims he was 13 at the time, steamy and illegal indeed). Her and Donny have a weird, short-lived romance. Donny claims that he really did love her and that he continues to love her, this naturally forces the viewer to question the nature of their relationship. Disturbing conclusions may or may not be made (depending on the viewer). Eva is the daughter of Susan Sarandon, and the film has some fun with this fact later on in the film in a bit that made me smile.
I'd hate to jump on the band wagon here, but by far the best part of the film is Vanilla Ice as himself. In the film he plays a sort-of best friend to Donny. Ice plays his character perfectly, seeming to have great fun doing what is essentially a send-up of himself. No shame here. It's great to see Vanilla Ice running while listening to Ice Ice Baby on a Walkman, and to see him manning a job as a vanilla ice cream server....it's beyond words.
Despite my praise, That's My Boy does indeed have some faults. One is Nick Swardson. While he did have some funny parts and one classic line, I'm tired of seeing him in Adam Sandler films. The film is also made about as well as any other Sandler film, which is to say not all that well. The plot isn't the strongest one ( it will do just fine though), it does stretch its running time near the end, and the typical Adam Sandler humor is on display here. What I'm saying is that, naturally, not everyone will enjoy this film, but for those of us who enjoyed Big Daddy or other Sandler films of that era, I'm sure That's My Boy will do the trick.
Despite all the raunchiness, That's My Boy does indeed have heart as can be sampled by a major subplot involving Donny's need for acceptance from his own son, and by an awkward but real sentimental moment. While you can expect some of the typical dumb moments/humor here, those moments aren't anywhere near as abundant as they are in other Sandler films. That's My Boy finds Adam Sandler back in his Big Daddy days and thus this acts as an almost return to form for him. It may not be a perfect film, but I loved That's My Boy...silly faults and all.
Things I learned from That's My Boy
- Beer bottles can be useful in fights.
- All girls love ice cream.
- Hans Solo Berger is the coolest name ever....IT'S TRUE!!!
- The hottest teachers may give it up if you let them know you're interested.
- Vanilla Ice is actually a pretty fun guy (I think deep down inside we all knew this).
- Adam Sandler may still have some humor left in him yet.