First, the good news: I laughed twice at “That’s My Boy,” which is two more times than I did while watching Sandler’s 2011 efforts “Just Go With It,” “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” and “Jack and Jill.” Combined.
One of those laughs involves a bacchanalian bachelor party featuring Vanilla Ice (as himself) and the other comes from an eleventh-hour cameo by an Oscar-winning actress (whose third-act reveal won’t be too much of a surprise to anyone paying attention to the rest of the film’s casting).
Too bad that, like most Adam Sandler movies that don’t involve Judd Apatow, Paul Thomas Anderson or James L. Brooks, “That’s My Boy” is far longer than it needs to be (114 minutes, if you’re keeping score at home.) And, like the aforementioned subset of Sandler films, it’s vulgar, trite, sexist, misogynist, hacky, tacky, gross, sentimental and stupid, with occasional flourishes of racism and veiled homophobia thrown in to boot.
In other words, whether you love Adam Sandler or you hate him, he’s done it again!
Sandler stars as Donny Berger, who gained notoriety as a 13-year-old in 1984 when he impregnated his sexy math teacher Miss McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino). Young Donny got rich selling his life story for a TV movie and got custody of their child, Han Solo Berger.
Cut to the present: Donny’s broke and facing jail time for back taxes owed, and the only way he can get back on TV (with a fat paycheck) is to stage a jailhouse reunion with his former lover and their kid on a sleazy daytime talk show. But the now-grown son, who now goes by the name Todd (Andy Samberg, who’s way too good for this) and who claims his parents were killed in an explosion, has moved on and plans to marry his girlfriend Jamie (Leighton Meester) that very weekend.
Cue the arrival of the beer-swilling Donny, with no manners whatsoever and a Massachusetts accent thick as chowdah, at the fancy wedding being held at the seaside home of Todd’s boss Steve (Tony Orlando — yes, that Tony Orlando). Drunken partying, embarrassing revelations and the usual sappy Sandlerian family-is-important homilies ensue.
A mere plot synopsis, however, doesn’t capture the film’s wall-to-wall horror at, and amusement with, female sexuality. From a seemingly endless supply of women characters inappropriately seducing younger men to sight gags involving overweight or partially-paralyzed strippers, “That’s My Boy” operates on a horny 12-year-old’s mentality from start to finish.
The nadir comes with a final-act twist that won’t be given away here, that ranks among the most desperate and tasteless comedic plot twists in Hollywood history. In a smarter movie, this gambit might have come off as bold or audacious, but here it’s just nauseating.
So yes, two laughs, sprinkled over a giant bowl of revulsion. But if this is your sort of thing, eat up.