Movie Review: That’s My Boy

By Séamus Smyth

No actor enjoys reveling in the past the way former comedy czar Adam Sandler does. Sandler’s character, the infamous Donny Burger, gains B-list celebrity status after knocking boots with his promiscuous mathematics instructor back when Burger is just a pup. The entire world roars with approval after the young lad fulfills the fantasy of countless men and he unwisely decides to delve in the riches as the ultimate dude’s dude until the well runs dry.

Of course by mid-life, the world has forgotten about the antics of Donny Burger, and suddenly the former teen sensation is in dire need of some serious cash. What he conveniently discovers is that his love child who was conceived with the statutory rapist/school instructor, has carved out a completely new identity for himself. This Burger-free character is played by Andy Samberg, otherwise known as Todd. Samberg trades in his unpredictable SNL skits for buttoned-up shirts, investment portfolios and a notable stick directed up his rectum.

Samberg doesn’t necessarily have a breakout performance, but he demonstrates that he can act as a reliable source for both believability and comedic relief.  Although the film’s trailer suggests that this flick is a shared venture between Sandler and his heir apparent Samberg, Sandler is unquestionably the conductor of this unnecessary film with Samberg as merely a singer in the choir.

Sandler’s use of traditional curses goes the way of spoiled milk early in the film, and yet he treats these trite sayings as safe havens to hopefully guarantee a laugh from an eager audience. The one exception from Sandler’s archaic catalogue that is surprisingly funny is the resurrection of the catchphrase “Waazzzup.” The scene is filmed similar to the classic Budweiser commercial, which makes sense considering the entire movie is essentially a massive advertisement for the American brewery. Donny Burger wastes no opportunity to crack open another Bud with any random contraption to the delight of marketing teams everywhere.

Although That’s my Boy is yet another crude, clumsy creation from the Happy Madison production team, it does produce more than the odd chuckle from the audience. The problem is that they are incredibly cheap laughs that lack the richness of higher-end comedies, flicks that Sandler has been lacking from his resume for quite some time.

Due to the movie’s lack of memorable moments, it will likely go unnoticed that That’s my Boy does have a small, but notable soul. If you remove all the sexuality and the seemingly endless buffoonery, the main idea behind That’s my Boy is that a dead-beat dad is desperate to re-connect with his beloved son. A number of touching scenes, despite having goofiness poured over them, show how talented Sandler has become at inserting humility into his recent comedic ventures.

It’s a skill that he has quietly honed and crafted and is hopefully a trait that he continues to develop in the future. Unfortunately, for him to capitalize financially on this new-found gift, he must finally step behind the camera and allow someone else, potentially Samberg, to assume the reigns of the Happy Madison movies. Sandler appears to have exhausted his already limited acting abilities and he must acknowledge the fact that he can no longer recycle roles that he debuted as early as the mid-1990s.

You will not be enlightened by That’s my Boy.  However, if you can withstand yet another silly, unremarkable, but passably funny display from one of comedy’s aging kings, then Sandler is still your boy.