Directed by: Sean Anders
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, James Caan, Eva Amurri Martino
Release date: 7 September 2012
Running time: 114 mins
Adam Sandler has been blasted in sections of the US media for making light of the trials of a ‘rape survivor’ in his latest offering That’s My Boy, a supposed comedy about a father’s efforts to reconnect with his son, that is as nonsensical as it is unfunny.
When Donny loses his virginity to maths teacher Ms McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino)—who falls pregnant and is sent to the slammer for 30 years—he becomes an overnight sensation. The teenage superstud embraces his new-found celebrity, but public adulation arrests his personal development with disastrous consequences.
Donny’s son Han Solo (Andy Samberg) flees at the earliest opportunity and assumes a new identity under the name Todd Peterson. Meanwhile the adult Donny (Adam Sandler) faces a jail sentence due to unpaid tax bills after falling on hard times. Donny tracks down Han Solo, and announcing himself as an old friend, the beer-guzzling man-child sets about mending his relationship with his son while also trying to deceive him in a bid to raise the necessary funds to pay off the taxman.
That’s My Boy is riddled with humour that concerns itself primarily with erections, masturbation, semen, incest, sex with grannies and other things that presumably fall within the overarching thematic category of repressed desires. The vast majority of the jokes fall flat, and there is such a laboured effort to bolster them through the overuse of profanity that the film is soon reduced to employing gratuitous language as a humouristic device in itself. All well and good if you’re targeting a younger audience, but not in a movie that carries a 16 rating and is attempting to connect with a more mature audience.
There is an attempt at adding substance through exploration of deeper issues, particularly disrupted rites of passage. Donny’s transition from boy to man is derailed by the fame that a teenage experience brings him and the child he is prematurely burdened with. Ms McGarricle’s path from maiden to motherhood is obstructed by her incarceration and subsequent separation from her infant. And Han Solo’s impending marriage is jeopardised by the arrival of a father who threatens to expose his true identity. But none of this is brought together in a coherent manner due to the erratic plot development of a tale which is too devoid of charm for the audience to overlook its utter improbability.
Cameos from Vanilla Ice and James Caan provide rare moments of entertainment but even their efforts can’t redeem That’s My Boy, an offering so redundant that the accusations of exploiting child victims of sexual abuse levelled at it serve only to afford it a notoriety it scarcely warrants.