A film review by Craig J. Koban October 23, 2012

 

THAT'S MY BOY zero stars 

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.

It 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 Donnie is forced to stay after class she begins to unbutton her blouse, show some cleavage, and lures him into having sex with her. 

This type of deplorable material is…funny?  Really?  What’s 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. 

 

 

Donnie’s 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. 

If 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 everyday conversations.  

Donnie 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.  Yup.  Sure.  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. 

THAT’S 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.

There’s 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 actors and convince them to participate.  You know who you are; shame on the both of you. 

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