A dumb lead character in a comedy can result in a funny movie. However, if every other character is dumb enough to be even slightly charmed by a vulgar, drunken, slovenly 41-year-old man with an annoying voice who looks like a washed-up Guns N Roses roadie, plausibility flies right out the window, and so do the laughs.
"That's My Boy" has more promise in its male leads than it ultimately delivers. After all, Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg have a lot more in common besides initials. They're both Saturday Night Live alumni who made names for themselves by writing original, funny songs. They also both practically single-handedly revitalized SNL's popularity by attracting a younger following.
You would think a movie starring both of them would showcase each of their talents. Unfortunately, in "That's My Boy", Samberg was restricted to a straight man role, while Sandler routinely eats scenery with his atrocious Boston accent that sounds more Louisianan.
The film's premise does not leave much room for laughs as it is. Sandler plays Donny, a native of Somerville, Massachusetts who, when he's 13 years old, has a thing for older women, particularly his teacher, Miss McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino).
When Miss McGarricle takes too much of a liking to the young Donny, they have sex, they get caught, and Miss McGarricle gets pregnant. She bears a son, but gets sentenced to 30 years in prison.
In a contrived, totally unrealistic plot point that only serves as fodder for jokes later on in the film, young Donny is ordered by the court, who apparently had never heard of child care services, to raise his newborn son. Even more unrealistically, Donny becomes a celebrity, sells his life story for six figures, and blows his money away.
The second part of that scenario rubbed me the wrong way already. Do you remember the name of the boy with whom 6th grade teacher Mary Kay Letorneau had sex? I don't. That boy was featured in the New York Times, but not on the cover of Teen Beat!
Anyway, Donny's son Todd (Samberg) grows up to become a successful hedge fund manager, but only after moving away from Donny when he turned 18 (Again, child services anyone?). Donny, on the other hand, spends his money so irresponsibly that he ultimately owes $43,000 in back taxes.
When he finds out about Todd's engagement to beautiful Jamie (Leighton Meester), Donny convinces a TV talk show host to pay him $50,000 for exclusive footage of Donny, Todd, and Todd's biological mother (still in jail) reuniting at last. Such a contrived plot point serves as the reason Donny shows up unannounced to Todd's wedding site days before the wedding.
Rather than the wedding party, consisting of Jamie's family and Todd's boss Steve Spirou (Tony Orlando), being repulsed by Donny's disheveled hair, ratty clothes, vernacular that consists of the f-word spoken every third sentence, and his irritating faux Boston accent, they somehow see his charm. It's surprising, because if a guy who acted like Donny showed up at my wedding, I would call security before he even opened his mouth.
Naturally, because Donny is a boy who never grew up, his shenanigans supposedly ruin Todd's plans for the perfect wedding. The usual cliché plot points happen when Donny and Todd have a falling out the night before the wedding, sentimental music borrowed from "Full House" reruns play during the night scenes, and the climax happens right when the bride and groom are taking their vows.
I should note that there's also a plot twist involving the bride that was so out of left field that it landed in another ball park. Without giving it away, I really wish the film hadn't gone there. That twist made me cringe far more than it made me laugh.
Add those hackneyed wedding movie story lines to Sandler's constantly disseminating his tired onslaught of fat jokes, penis gags, fart noises, antics revolving around elderly people having sex, and homophobic humor, and you've got "That's My Boy". The difference between him doing those jokes in this movie and his last movie, "Jack and Jill" (2011), is that here, when using an irritating voice, he doesn't cross dress.
Don't get me wrong, though. I don't hate Adam Sandler. In fact, "Happy Gilmore" (1996), "The Wedding Singer" (1998), and "The Waterboy" (1998) still make me laugh both because the jokes are fresher and funnier, and because Sandler's character in those movies had heart. Here, he plays a buffoon so obnoxious you want to punch him in the face.
The other jokes not spoken by Sandler, but by other characters, fall flat 9 times out of 10. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan plays Sandler's financial adviser who happens to be a huge New England Patriots fan. Get it? Because he's actually the Jets coach in real life? Hardy har har!
Among the many cameos in this film, the only one that's genuinely funny is Vanilla Ice, who plays himself. He surprisingly does such a good job parodying his image from 20 years ago that Happy Madison Productions should actually give him his own movie.
However, Vanilla Ice's role in the movie reflected the problem of "That's My Boy": when Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg are in a movie together, the funniest person should not be Vanilla Ice! Sandler really needs to reevaluate his on-screen humor and his career. While his movies are making money, he's gradually losing credibility.
To paraphrase an earlier, funnier Sandler movie ("Billy Madison" (1995)), "That's My Boy" is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever seen. At no point in this rambling, incoherent film was Sandler even close to anything that could be considered funny. Everyone in my screening room is now dumber for having seen it. I award this movie 2 out of 10 stars, and may God have mercy on Adam Sandler's soul.