'That's My Boy': Tacky father-son comedy

Adam Sandler, (left) and Andy Samberg as father Donny and his son Todd. TRACY BENNETT / Columbia Pictures
Adam Sandler, (left) and Andy Samberg as father Donny and his son Todd. TRACY BENNETT / Columbia Pictures
Posted: June 16, 2012

Just in time for Father's Day, Adam Sandler delivers That's My Boy, a father-son bonding movie that's also his first hard-core R comedy.

I'd say hold out for getting the ugly tie as a gift instead.

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, coming both as a sloppy comedy and a cry for help.

Years from now, film historians may look back at J&J as Sandler's Jekyll-and-Hyde psychodrama, in which the comedian wrestles with the id-like creature inside 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.

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 a character portrayed by Andy Samberg. He's Todd, a Wall Street success whose hyper-achievement compensates for the shame of this notorious father, Donny, 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 tries to force himself into Todd's life on the eve of his wedding. The movie winks at Donny'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 watered-down Hangover.

So are the gags about statutory rape, hookers, etc. I get it. It's transgressive. But in a culture as polluted as ours, transgressive isn't daring. It has become the opposite of that - repetitive and lazy.

None of this stops Sandler from attracting his usual collection of celebrity cameos, including a few name actors and some sports-world celebrities, such as 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.

That's My Boy *1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Sean Anders. With Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Tony Orlando, Will Forte, and Vanilla Ice. Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 54 mins.

Parent's guide: R (sex, drugs, profanity).

Playing at: Area theaters.

Contact Gary Thompson at 215-854-5992 or thompsg@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "Keep It Reel," at www.philly.com/keepitreel.

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