Today we have an exercise in keeping an open mind, and in that spirit I went into the theater for That’s My Boy without seeing any reviews for it. Honestly, I think avoiding Rotten Tomatoes actually helped me enjoy this movie more than I would’ve otherwise and I’d like to continue this practice of going into movies with a critical blank slate. In any case, I’m going to write a simple review for a simple movie, so without further ado, here is my opinion of That’s My Boy.
As the trailers clearly illustrate, That’s My Boy is based around a teacher-student relationship that ends in a pregnancy. Twenty years later, we enter in on Danny (Sandler) trying to repair relations with his estranged son Todd (Andy Samberg) in order to repay Danny’s debt to the IRS by getting Todd to appear on a televised reunion with his father and imprisoned mother. While most of the advertising focuses on the unique father/son dynamic of a child being raised by a slightly older child, most of the movie is less unique in that it focuses on the main characters trying to play along with a story that isn’t true in order to save face for the family. In this case, Danny is pretending to be a friend of Todd’s rather than his father and this ruse is the center of the majority of the plot.
If you want to know what That’s My Boy is like, try to imagine a mix between The Hangover and a male version of Bridesmaids except rather than Kristin Wiig or the Wolfpack you’re stuck with Adam Sandler with an annoyingly overdone Boston accent. The result is a movie that is admittedly quite funny at times, but it never feels like more than a less intelligent cousin of those two greatly superior movies. Most parts of the movie feel really familiar for this reason, and in my opinion the only thing that saves it from feeling like any other Adam Sandler low-brow comedy is the addition of Andy Samberg. As one of the only people on the planet who actually liked Hot Rod, I would probably enjoy any movie better with the SNL alum in it and That’s My Boy is no exception. Sure, his character’s dorkiness gets a little old after a while and it’s not a role I’ll remember until the end of time, it’s still a saving grace for a movie like this, with so many unlikable characters, to have a least one likable one and Samberg fits that bill just fine.
Mr. Samberg is not the top billed name however, and he’s not the one most people will see the movie for. Adam Sandler has been one of the most bafflingly consistent box office draws of the past two decades, with more $100+ million grossing movies than any other actor in the time frame. His last project (Jack and Jill) though drew an unprecedented level of critical scorn and failed to make up for that poor quality at the box office, so That’s My Boy was a big test of whether or not Sandler’s star power has begun to fade. The answer is that while his shtick is getting old, he has the sort of dumb appeal which will never quite fade away entirely. This movie marks much more of a return to normalcy for Mr. Sandler though, hearkening back to his more idiotic (and much funnier) early roles like Happy Gilmore. While his character’s personality is pretty grating, it actually plays pretty well off of Samberg’s awkwardness and makes for some decent laughs.
Verdict: 4.5/10 Sub-Par
That’s My Boy is neither original, nor smart, not particularly good in any substantive sense but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. It is par for the course dumb entertainment, and even reaches above average moments when some of the funnier characters and Cameo appearances steal the scenes (Any fans of Grandma’s Boy should watch it if nothing else than a great cameo from one of its characters near the end of the movie). I would recommend this movie to anyone who is in the mood for dumb fun and not much more than that. It may not be on par with his earlier material, but if nothing else it is at least a step up from playing his own twin sister.