Proving that with age does not come comedic wisdom, That’s My Boy is yet another painfully unfunny film from the man who somehow continues his career as a bankable comedy actor, Adam Sandler.
In the past, Sandler has brought audiences family friendly comedies that are more akin to a Christmas cracker joke than a successful laugh; anticipation turned to disappointment. That’s My Boy is a slight departure from this, but only in that Sandler ventures into the red band generation of comedies. Unsurprisingly, this is just as unfunny as his previous work, but this time offensively so.
In one of the most misjudged openings to a comedy, seventh grader Donny Berger (Sandler) pulls off what the film would have you believe is the American dream: getting his peadophile teacher pregnant. Applauded by the entire school followed by all of America, Donny becomes a national celebrity whilst his ‘love’ is sent to jail. Moving into the present day, grown-up Donny is facing jail after avoiding paying his taxes. His only hope is to seek out his estranged son Han Solo Berger (Adam Samberg), who has changed his name, become wealthy and is soon to be married.
Whilst the type of comedy thrives on explicit and inappropriate humour, the idea of adults applauding a child for impregnating a teacher leaves a rotten taste from the start. Peadophilia is not, and should never be, a subject to be joked about, and the fact that it is clearly handled so poorly here is a shining example of just how distasteful That’s My Boy is.
As the film moves to present day, the latest incarnation Sandler has inflicted on the world takes center stage: a slack-jawed, Boston-accented alcoholic facing prison (worse things could happen). Soon after is the introduction of his son, now called Todd Peterson and living a heavily medicated and nervous life, albeit in apparent luxury. Samberg plays this anxious role to the best of his ability, and initially is likeable just for the mere fact that he is the only character who seems to be appropriately nauseated by Sandler’s on screen persona. However, as the film continues and the father son bonding begins, he too is won over and the film loses any and all hope.
It’s fair enough that the narrative takes this term, with redemption being perhaps the only appropriate aspect of it. However, with every other moment filled with cheap and offensive humour that struggles to even earn a chuckle, any attempts at emotional investment seem just as misjudged as the rest of the film.
Attempting to jump on the bandwagon of adult comedies, That’s My Boy falls more than short, landing in what can only be described as painfully unfunny ground. Despite its widely recognisable cast, nothing can be done to save the film from its “star” (a term that becomes all the more unsuitable as time continues), whose follow-up to the awful Jack and Jill shows only one thing; the value of owning your own production company. Well done Adam Sandler for keeping yourself in work.
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