Adam Sandler is more offensive than ever in “That’s My Boy,” but does that mean there are more laughs? After playing a moronic female in last year’s horrible “Jack and Jill,” Sandler now plays the washed-up Donny Berger, whose one claim to fame is impregnating his teacher in junior high, sending her to jail for 30 years.
After initially living off his tabloid image, Donny now is a beer guzzling, swearing, uncouth adult who drives a beat up car, still listens to cassette tapes and travels with a garbage bag for a suitcase. And did I mention the voice? Sandler returns to “Little Nicky” territory with the annoying, gravelly, mumbling delivery. With so many things to dislike about Sandler’s character, “That’s My Boy” has all the ingredients to be another bomb, yet surprisingly, it’s actually funny.
The saving grace for Donny’s character is that he’s actually intelligent and likable. He may be dirty, classless and drunk, but deep down he’s sincere, and all he wants is to have a good time and that attitude is infectious to everyone he meets. He’s the type of guy who draws everyone’s attention when entering a room, and he even still keeps his love for his junior high teacher. When he learns that he owes the IRS $43,000 in back taxes, he schemes to reunite with his now grown son Han Solo (Andy Samberg), who’s become a successful hedge fund manager and is about to get married. But when Donny arrives at the wedding, he immediately forgets about swindling his son for the money and instead focuses on reconnecting with him.
Now I know I’m probably reading way too much into this movie because it’s an Adam Sandler film after all, but the bottom line is that he’s back to creating characters that audience can root for. “Jack and Jill” was a terrible film because there was nothing remotely likable about the characters. At least “That’s My Boy” shows some signs of heart.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not taking cracks at everyone’s expense. There are jokes about horny senior citizens, overweight strippers, Asians, masturbation, human excrement and even more taboo subjects. There were several times I had to shake my head and think to myself, “that’s just wrong,” and yet I was laughing while doing so.
Helping Sandler deliver those jokes is possibly the most random supporting cast ever. Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon and her real-life daughter Eva Amurri Martino play the present and past versions of the teacher Donny has sex with. Joining them are James Caan, Sandler’s fellow Saturday Night Live performers Will Forte, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer, singers Ciara and Tony Orlando, Todd Bridges, sports show host Dan Patrick and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan who hilariously plays a man obsessed with the New England Patriots, the Jets’ primary rival. But the most memorable supporting character is Vanilla Ice. He’s not afraid to poke fun at himself and actually shows great comedic talent. And of course there is some “Ice Ice Baby” thrown in for good measure as well.
So while “That’s My Boy” doesn’t quite measure up to Sandler’s better films, it is an encouraging sign that he’s on the road back.
“That’s My Boy,” 114 minutes, is Rated R and opens in theaters today.