If there are still any Adam Sandler apologists left following his recent string of somewhat sanitized, vaguely “family friendly” features from the last twelve years, they will undoubtedly be happy to hear that his latest, That’s My Boy, marks his filthiest and most purposefully offensive exercise to date. There’s more laughs to be had during this movie than his past five features combined, but it comes at too long and too dirty a cost.
Sandler stars as Donny, a former Somerville, Massachusetts sensation who gained dubious celebrity for knocking up his seventh grade teacher. After years of estrangement and finding himself flat broke and in need of cash to pay off the IRS to stave off imprisonment, the boorish Donny tries to reconnect with a now successful son (Andy Samberg) so ashamed of his dad that he changed his name on the weekend of his wedding to a wealthy young woman (Leighton Meester).
Working with some new blood (in this case the minds behind Hot Tub Time Machine and Sex Drive) instead of the same three directors he usually works with, Sandler seems a bit more energized this time out and actually puts in some effort beyond just taking on a Boston accent, and pairing him against fellow SNL alum Samberg feels inspired. The best moments in the film are the ones that allow these two to play off each other.
But this movie still feels decidedly gross and icky. It crosses lines that South Park episodes wouldn’t touch. It wastes most of the first and final twenty minutes of its two hours going out of its way to shock with no payoff leading to an ending so reprehensible it can’t overcome it. If you aren’t a white male, you will be offended by almost everything on screen. If you are a white male, the film will needle you with a plethora of other ways to be offended. If you aren’t offended in any way, please seek psychiatric help.
Sandler, Samberg, and a good supporting cast try, but the movie just feels depressing. This isn’t the Sandler film of old that many had hoped. This is something far more cynical and far more disgusting. I don’t mean that in a good way. The ending is so bad it made me feel guilty about laughing at it during the middle hour. I think I need a shower.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester
Directed by: Sean Anders
Top image: A scene from That’s My Boy. Courtesy Sony Pictures.