The only thing that was well executed in the new film “That’s My Boy” was casting Andy Samberg as Adam Sandler’s son. The pair’s uncanny resemblance proved to keep me interested for a good short while, but eventually something else of worth would have to arise to warrant the film’s existence. By the end of the opening montage it became clear that another sweep at next year’s Razzie Awards was in the making, but of course 2011’s “Jack and Jill” is a tough act to follow. If ever there were a heir to the throne it would be “That’s My Boy.”
A young extroverted Donny Berger (Adam Sandler) has an affair with his voluptuous middle school math teacher, Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri). The relationship results in a pregnancy and the birth of Han Solo (Andy Samberg). Donny raises Han up until his 18th birthday, at which point Han leaves to start a new life. 12 years later Donny finds himself owing $43,000 to the IRS after burning through the royalties he made during the height of his highly publicized relationship. Han changes his name to Todd Peterson, and is a successful businessman. Desperate for money, Donny tries to reunite with his disconnected son, bringing years of remorse to the forefront of the matter.
In all honesty, the resemblance between Samberg and Sandler is not the only worthwhile facet of the film; Vanilla Ice plays a fictional version of himself, so not all is lost. The movie’s spiral to mediocrity lies in its self-diminishing approach to comedy. In essence we laugh at it, not with it. It’s quite clear what a film like “That’s My Boy” tries to accomplish; it tries to earn the title of “world’s dumbest movie.” Every so often there’s a phenomenon where the phrase “That movie was so dumb it was genius!” explodes from the mouths of moviegoers. Unfortunately my reaction stopped at “that movie was so dumb.”
Despite the films elemental flaws, it has its funny moments. James Caan has a small role as an Irish priest who likes to get in fights, which can be added to the list of worthwhile reasons to see the movie along with Vanilla Ice and the weird resemblance-complex between the two leads.
The film does not go down without a fight. Often looking to go “there,” it clearly tries to raunch its way into our hearts. The envelope is indeed pushed, but not far enough. There are plenty of films where I can catch a good ‘ole elderly romp in the hay — many of which spare me of Adam Sandler.
Naturally there is little to say about the acting. Sandler speaks with his usual accent, which is basically a variation of a lisp, helping to elevate the film to another level of absurdity. Samberg’s performance is relatively uneventful; he probably won’t be nominated for a Razzie, or any other award for that matter.
Films like “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy” feel like the awkward kid in class who gets a kick out of being weird and secretly enjoys the taunts. It seems like Sandler and company enjoy purposefully putting the head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan in a film — despite his awful acting — as an inside joke. Perhaps they enjoy making a movie as an excuse to incorporate Vanilla Ice and play “Ice, Baby Ice” during the film’s climax. Perhaps it was their plan all along to bait us with the Samberg Sandler dopplebanger thing just to turn it on its head at the very last second. Could it be that seeing an audience sit through your most far-fetched fantasy is the greatest ploy of all? It makes us question who’s laughing at whom. But then again, it’s probably just another bad film.
A film like this usually produces two types of people, those who hate it, and those who like it but admit it’s pretty bad. I don’t blame an individual who wants to watch “That’s My Boy” just to see Vanilla Ice cook chicken nuggets or because Samberg and Sandler look shockingly alike, but at the end of the day that’s what Youtube is for.