JUST IN TIME for Father's Day, Adam Sandler delivers "That's My Boy," a father-son bonding movie that's also his first hardcore "R" comedy.
I'd say hold out for the ugly tie.
Laugh-wise, "That's My Boy" occupies the same general place on the sliding Sandler scale as "Jack and Jill," which set a record last year for Golden Raspberries, and was both a sloppy comedy and a cry for help.
Years from now, film historians may well look back at "J&J" as Sandler's Jekyll-and-Hyde psychodrama, in which the comedian wrestles with the id-like creature inside of him that compulsively surrenders to the first flatulence joke that springs to mind.
In "That's My Boy" Sandler works on an even less regulated, R-rated canvas, so instead of "family" style jokes about who made the bathtub bubbles, we get a morbidly obese stripper hanging upside down on a grind pole, trying to eat eggs and sausage.
Could it get more tasteless? Surely. Hard by the Sandusky trial, Sandler delivers a premise that has a 13-year-old boy seduced by his middle school teacher (Eva Amurri Martino), yielding a child that grows up to be Andy Samberg. He's Todd, a Wall Street success whose hyper-achievement compensates for the shame of this notorious father, who became a shabby '80s celebrity (Tony Orlando, Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges pop in), and also a rotten dad who mistreated and finally abandoned his son.
Now destitute, Dad now tries to force himself into Todd's life on the eve of his wedding. The movie winks at Bernie's absenteeism, boorishness and alcoholism — all is excused because he's the life of the party. The rehearsal dinner party, the bachelor party — it's a watered-down "Hangover."
So the gags are about statutory rape, hookers, etc. I get it. It's transgressive. But in a culture as polluted as ours, transgressive isn't daring. It's become the opposite of that — repetitive and lazy.
None of this stops Sandler from attracting his usual collection of celebrity cameos. A few name actors, some sports-world celebrities, including Rex Ryan and Dan Patrick.
"That's My Boy" may put an end to that.
Patrick plays a sleazy reality TV host who at one point asks if he got any poop on his clothes.
Yeah, Dan, this time you did. n
Contact movie critic Gary Thompson at 215-854-5992 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "Keep It Reel," at philly.com/keepitreel.
REVIEW | s 1/2
That's My Boy
Directed by Sean Anders. With Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice, Tony Orlando, Will ForteDistributed by Columbia Pictures.
Running time: 114 minutes
Parent's guide: R (sex, drugs, language)
Playing at: Area theaters