08 November 2012

Film: That's My Boy (2012)

Thoughts: Despite the films many, many flaws, That's My Boy still had a fair share of laughs, and kept me entertained for the one viewing I'll ever allow it. It trades in abhorrent subject matter on all counts, and is scattershot with the jokes, but at least it tries to push the attempt-per-minute ratio high enough that a chuckle is never far around the corner, crass or... well, crasser. A healthy appreciation of Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg is definitely a good card to have in your backpocket when viewing though, and more than likely made my opinion weighted towards the forgiving.

Teenage Donny Berger lived the ultimate male fantasy: banging his hot biology teacher at 14. Unfortunately Donny and his partying ways meant that he would be financially ruined by 40, and that his son would disown him at 18. Left with a 43 grand IRS debt and no way to pay, Donny (Adam Sandler) hunts down his estranged, mentally troubled but financially successful son Han Solo (Andy Samberg) in the hopes of luring him into a reality show trap and a large payday. This all lands on the same weekend as Han's (now Todd) big wedding with the lovely Jamie (Leighton Meester) and her varied family. Naturally, everything goes pear-shaped.

As is typical with a modern Happy Madison production, the whole enterprise rests on the amount of gross-out and morally reprehensible jokes it can fit into its actually quite long runtime. That aforementioned runtime is actually the first of a few big flaws in the film; a lowest common denominator comedy should never, ever reach 2 hours in length. Long stretches pass with a chuckle here and there, and that's pretty unforgivable. Thankfully, those chuckles kept me in check until the next moderate to big laugh, mostly born from "what funny visual or cameo will I see next?". The jokes range from disgusting and offensive to borderline cringe-worthy- so much so that even I, of all people, was thinking to myself "my wife is watching this you guys!". Seriously, the film jumps to some pretty male-oriented material, fairly often and fairly strongly. Masturbation, incest, cum-licking, naked fat people, naked ladies AND men, public fornication in various degrees, the list goes on. And it kinda comes out of nowhere and smacks you in the face most of the time.

And of course, the Sandler factor. I count myself a fan, but those who are less inclined towards the former stand-ups comedy best back away quickly. He creates this character of 90s nostalgia, complete with a voice and diction that resembles the songs he used to sing. Think Billy Madison when he's singing "back to school, back to school..." in that idiot kid voice, and you're practically there. I liked it. When he goes for broke, he really goes for broke, like in Zohan. And for me, its a delight to see him bounce off a wonderfully gifted comedic actor like Andy Samberg. He plays a straight foil for the first time I've ever seen, and his body and facial control is great. Nervous tics, icky contortions and stilted awkwardness are all played out very well by the Lonely Island member.

The direction and script are all pretty lazy, with stock angles, basic set-ups and prerequisite rockin' classic soundtrack that is admittedly very awesome. I'll give it this though: there were some interesting lighting and tone choices that came up, like in the beach scenes towards the end, that made me sit up and take notice. Very emotive and well set choices that evoked a certain mood, and I quite appreciated that, especially for a film of this type. The script is eh too, with all the various bit and major performers picking up most of the slack. And yes, the cameos are great, and I won't list them here, for I am tired.

...anyway, I didn't mind it. For those with a sick mind and a penchant for Adam Sandler, give it a once-over.


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