Adam Sandler’s latest comedy is a welcome trip back to beyond his usual PG-13 territory after some recent forgettably craptastic ones into family fare like Grown Ups and Jack and Jill, one of our nominees for Worst Movie of 2011. That’s My Boy still manages to retain the family-centricity nicely, making it an appropriate albeit unconventional choice for Father’s Day this weekend, but credit for the hilarious movie should probably go to director Sean Anders and writer David Caspe, the creator and writer of Happy Endings. Anders’ sophomore film is a right step up from his debut (Sex Drive) and a worthy entry alongside his other writing work, Hot Tub Time Machine and She’s Out of My League.
That’s My Boy‘s R rating is certainly not wasted and well earned in Sandler’s return to restricted audiences. Also returning, along with many of his usual crew of Happy Madison collaborators, is another portrayal of an archetype he helped popularize and has made a long career out of: the man-child. However, this time the adult version of a quasi-celebrity that fame chewed and spit out is not only tired and seldom entertaining, but maybe one of Sandler’s worst and most annoying characters ever. He’s played lovable fools in the past, but in That’s My Boy I had no sympathy for his character, who’s like Billy Madison‘s evil long lost brother with a slightly toned down version of Little Nicky‘s permanent stupid voice. Jar Jar alert!
Thankfully, the movie fared much better overall, along the lines of last year’s Just Go With It, one of our honorable mentions for Best Comedy. One particular ongoing cameo in That’s My Boy is so well executed and hilarious, it kind of reminded me of the one in Friends With Benefits (still won’t spoil it here) and is comparable to Neil Patrick Harris’ scene-stealing in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, both of which were also honored in our year-end awards.
Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester are great in That’s My Boy, which had probably their best cinematic performances so far. Not only does Samberg conveniently embody his character as Sandler’s improperly raised son physically, but he shows with this comedic timing and poise why he’s one of the few highlights of Saturday Night Live nowadays. As for Meester, I applaud her willingness to tackle such a gross and gutsy role that nearly wipes away forever the shoot-me-now Gossip Girl stuff she’s better known for.
With some of the funniest onscreen moments since 21 Jump Street and American Reunion, Adam Sandler’s new comedy is a riot with a capital R rating. It could’ve been better if not for his extremely irritating man-child character, but there’s plenty of other comical bits that saves the movie for an overall satisfying watch for laughs. That’s My Boy gets 3 out of 5 stars or B- or Good.