Mark Reviews Movies

That's My Boy (2012)

THAT'S MY BOY (2012)

1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Sean Anders

Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Milo Ventimiglia, Vanilla Ice, Blake Clark, Meagen Fay, Tony Orlando, Peggy Stewart, Will Forte, James Caan, Eva Amurri Martino, Susan Sarandon

MPAA Rating: R (for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use)

Running Time: 1:54

Release Date: 6/15/12

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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 14, 2012

That's My Boy opens with a premise that is rife with the potential for satire. In it, a teenage boy (Justin Weaver) enters into a sexual relationship with his attractive female teacher (Eva Amurri Martino). The results are of the usual adolescent mindset; she keeps him after class in detention and starts to hit on him. When the two are caught mid-coitus on stage at a school assembly, the crowd of students (and male teachers) bursts into applause and cheers.

Then the scene shifts to a courtroom where the results are more of the same (The bailiff and the stenographer exchange a high five), until the judge speaks. She is as brash about her disgust for the sight in front of her as the men and boys are about their admiration. It doesn't matter that it's the ultimate teenage fantasy, she tells the defendant, now pregnant with the kid's eventual offspring; it's against the law. The boy is a victim, even if he and most of the other people assembled don't see it that way (Left unspoken, of course, is that, if the gender roles were reversed in the scenario, everyone would be as outraged as the judge is in this case).

For a brief moment, the movie gets it. The judge is not a villain but the voice of reason—and funnier than any of the opposing reactions to the affair before her. She grants custody of the soon-to-be-born child to the father when he turns 18. In a way, it's punishment, but, honestly, his punishment comes from the fact that so many people admire what he's done. He becomes a celebrity of sorts, making the covers of magazines and even having a made-for-TV movie produced about his life.

About 30 years later, Donny (Adam Sandler, doing "silly voice number four" and something like a Boston accent) is washed up. He seems to have an endless supply of beer bottles on his person (which he uses as weapons at various times when the chips are down), spends his free time at a local strip club, and owes the government $40,000 in back taxes (He assumed they took it automatically, a wishful thought that the IRS said was the stupidest thing they've ever heard). A sleazy TV host (Dan Patrick) offers Donny $50,000 if he can convince his estranged son, whom Donny originally named "Han Solo" ("the coolest name ever" in the mind of a 13-year-old boy), to join him in a reunion with the son's mother in prison.

Han Solo is now Todd (Andy Samberg), an on-the-rise hedge fund manager with a pretty fiancée named Jamie (Leighton Meester) and nothing but success in his future. On the weekend of their wedding, Donny shows up unannounced and learns that his son has been telling people that his father died in an explosion when Todd was just a boy. To keep up appearances, Todd says that Donny is only an old friend; Donny insists he once saved Todd's life when he tried to retrieve a burrito that fell on railroad tracks ("Why didn't you just get another burrito," everyone who hears the story asks—one of many obvious holes in Donny's story, Todd has to keep explaining without much enthusiasm, lest anyone catch on).

At this point, the setup loses whatever potential for cultural observations evaporates in favor of a string of increasingly off-color and crude humor. Gone is the implied double standard of the case of Donny and his teacher. Gone is the look at a man who manages to maintain a certain level of fame simply because he was famous for a short period of time (That idea does continue with the inclusion of former rapper Vanilla Ice and former child star Todd Bridges as Donny's friends—one of them is portrayed with, at best, questionable taste).

Instead, it becomes a string of gags that show how crass Donny is and how horrified Todd is of his father's behavior while trying to suppress anything that makes it seem as if they are alike (Both have a talent for math, to name one thing). Of course, everyone loves Donny for his unapologetic manner, which appalls Todd even further.

The men at the pre-wedding party share stories about their own sexual attraction to teachers in their youth, although most of them wind up sounding like sociopaths in the process. It's only a matter of time before Jamie's grandmother (Peggy Stewart) does something about the fact that Donny uses her picture to masturbate one night.

A few instances of the more outrageous material are admittedly amusing (There are a couple of moments in which characters must react to learning about incest that are, perhaps, the only rational ways one could react to such knowledge), but an overwhelming chunk is transparent or filler. That's My Boy is a step up from Sandler's more recent fare; then again, it doesn't take that much effort to rise above a bar that low.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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