Film Review : That's My Boy
● By Justin Buettner
Donny, while still in grade school, fathers a child with his math teacher. While the teacher is sentenced to thirty years in prison for statutory rape, Donny is left to be a father to their son, and not a very good one at that. Twenty-seven years later Donny’s son has disowned him and changed his name to Todd on his way to becoming a successful hedge fund operator while a broke Donny tries to find cash that will keep him out of jail on tax evasion. When Donny hears that his son is getting married he crashes the event hopeful to score the money he needs to stay out of jail.
Adam Sandler has just upped the ante in what I believe is a bet to himself of ’how bad of a movie can I make that people will still pay to see?’ I have to imagine that he sits in disbelief as people actually pay money to watch the movies that he makes. The tone of voice alone, a grating shout, should be enough to send people running from the theater. If this movie makes another hundred million dollars at the box office he may conclude that it is impossible for him to make a movie bad enough to keep people from seeing it.
So how bad is That’s My Boy? It is so tasteless and devoid of moral value that if I thought anyone with a normal IQ was behind the making of this movie I would tear it to pieces. However it’s like a 6 year old boy telling a bad dirty joke that he doesn’t fully understand; he knows not what he’s doing so it is not as offensive as it should be. Unfortunately That’s My Boy is like watching that same 6 year old tell dirty jokes for two hours, the novelty wears off within minutes. What you are left with is a horrible, awkward, and unfunny mess that almost makes you feel sorry for anyone that would find such a thing as funny.
The movie is chalked full of detestable characters. There is not one character that is even remotely likable. It makes it almost impossible for the audience to have a rooting interest in the eventual outcome. The movie wants you to be in Sandler’s Donny character’s corner but honestly what is there to like? Donny proclaims himself to be a good person more than once during the movie, but where’s the evidence? Donny is a drunk, mean spirited, failure who neglected his kid (to the point of child abuse) and instead of parenting got high, partied and drank himself into bankruptcy. However it is clear the filmmakers find this as “cool” as the character does nothing to change, in fact the movie is about Donny convincing his son Todd that he is indeed a great guy. The character of Todd is so winy and wimpy it is hard to have much sympathy for him either.
Should I even comment on the merits of the story or screenplay? Let’s just say it’s bad; really, really bad. The comedy is either of the gross out variety (poop, sex, and drug jokes) or it tries to make light of abuse or criminal behavior. This includes Sandler with great joy recalling tattooing a third grade kid, giving the kid diabetes by feeding him junk food for every meal or having the same eight year old drive him home because he was too drunk. In addition to those hilarious themes (sense the sarcasm?) the movie attempts to make fun of incest and finds making fun of fat or old people comedy gold. None of it is funny, original or amusing.
I actually think Adam Sandler, when he tries, is a good actor. Believe it or not there are a few funny and moving films in his past. The Wedding Singer was light and entertaining and Punch Drunk Love and Funny People actually showed he has the talent to act. Maybe it is a problem with effort for him? In so many of his movies it seems he is sleepwalking himself through mindless boring fluff (Just Go With It) or screams his way with an annoying shtick like nails on a chalkboard (Jack and Jill). Most of his films although crude, specializes in fart and burp jokes but keeps it clean enough for a PG-13 rating allowing the 10-12 year old boys that actually think his immature antics is good comedy to go. That’s My Boy however doesn’t just step over the thin line of good taste, but long jumps over it with reckless abandon solidly earning an R rating therefore locking out the very crowd that would actually find this funny. To be fair I don’t find Sandler’s screaming roles funny, but there are those who do. I suppose if you are a hardcore Adam Sandler fan and loved a movie like Little Nicky, you will find something to laugh at with this movie. Outside of that core fan following, normal people should avoid seeing That’s My Boy at all costs.
Films like That’s My Boy : Little Nicky, Hangover, and Wedding Crashers
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.