SOMETIMES you have to ask – why Adam Sandler? If I had a pound for every film interview where the subject complained how hard it was to get movies made, I’d have enough to make Star Wars 7, 8 and 9.
And yet every year, as regularly as St Swithin’s Day, Adam Sandler is allowed to make a comedy.
I don’t hate Adam Sandler. He’s sometimes surprised us with good work in straight roles such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, and I have been known to linger with Channel 5 when Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore fetch up. However, increasingly Adam Sandler movies have felt like something cooked up so that his friends can hold on to their Equity cards. This reached a nadir with Jack And Jill, where the best comedian on screen turned out to be Al Pacino.
After that, I started to consider sponsoring suggestion boxes for Sandler screenings so that the public could give him some tips. My advice would be no more barfing, no more fat gags and, for the love of all that is holy, no more jokey sex with grannies or minors. I know comedy boundaries are there to be pushed, but celebrating statutory rape is never going to become anyone’s idea of a favourite hoary old chestnut.
Here Sandler plays Donny Berger, a former reality TV star in his 40s who was once infamous for having sex with his teacher when he was underage. She was jailed for 30 years, leaving Donny to raise their son Han Solo Berger single-handed.
Eventually Han managed to escape Donny’s appalling parenting skills when he was 18, by which point he was overweight and had all the names of New Kids on the Block tattooed on his back. He hasn’t spoken to Donny since then, and went on to forge a new life as Todd Peterson (Andy Samberg), a successful banker who is about to marry his lovely fiancée (Leighton Meester).
At this point, of course, Donny reappears, and rather than admit to having a deadbeat dad, Todd introduces him to his future in-laws as his best friend. Not only do they buy this, they are improbably charmed by him. The real point of That’s My Boy is beer-guzzling, sex gags and nostalgia. Most of the cultural references are rooted in the 80s and 90s, when Donny was at the peak of his fame, which is the main reason for a cameo by rapper Vanilla Ice, playing himself in an act of self-deprecating parody that is the most endearing thing in the whole movie.
That’s My Boy is nowhere near as awful as Jack And Jill and very occasionally it hits moments that are genuinely funny; but, like many family reunions, there are many more when you check your watch and wonder at what time you can decently creep away.
On general release from Friday