By Samuel Hoelker
June 26, 2012
Isn’t it the worst when you see a trailer for a movie that you’re looking forward to and it’s, well, a piece of crap? Sometimes it turns out that the movie is actually fantastic and just the victim of a bad trailer (such as Brave), and sometimes that movie is just a flop (such as Battleship). I’ll be saving you that risk from now on, as I’ll be checking out the films with the lousiest trailers and seeing whether it’s just poor editing that made the trailer terrible, or if no amount of editing could make it good. Today’s study: Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy.
The trailer for That’s My Boy begins with an attractive teacher walking and being suggestive in slow-motion, much to the delight of little Adam Sandler. The font of the inter-titles shows that this must be a Columbia film. And right off the bat, we find out that little Adam Sandler slept with his teacher. She becomes pregnant (with the worst-looking pregnancy suit ever, even worse than just sticking a balloon under one’s shirt), and all of his peers think that he’s just tops. Then we very smoothly cut to current-day Adam Sandler, who owes lots of taxes. He finds out that his son, Andy Samberg, is about to get married and is very financially successful. Then there’s a large black stripper, because there’s nothing funnier than that.
Looks like heavy-drinker Adam Sandler is crashing his son’s wedding, and there’s a great one-two gag of “Whaaaaaaaaaazzzup!” and a spit-take. They yell at each other; apparently, Adam Sandler, indeed, was not a very good parent. Despite this, they go out to Andy Samberg’s bachelor party, which includes alcohol, reckless driving, and the always-funny joke of strippers (the aforementioned large black one, at that) shooting balls out of places where one usually doesn’t shoot balls. But will Adam Sandler learn his lesson? It seems he may prefer bonding with his son over avoiding prison! But will Andy Samberg forgive him, especially with a large back tattoo of New Kids on the Block? The trailer ends with a montage of Andy Samberg coming out of his shell, Adam Sandler saying, “That’s my boy!”, and people getting punched.
If you’re in my legions of fans (rather than being fans of Legion, of course), you may remember that two weeks ago, I talked about Jack and Jill, the most recent Adam Sandler movie. I didn’t think it was very good, but more importantly, I thought it meant that the bell was tolling for him (if I recall high school English correctly). I was really hoping for That’s My Boy to confirm this, since, my God, that trailer is just terrible. Adam Sandler’s doing a goofy voice, Andy Samberg is always awful, and the premise IS BASED ON STATUTORY RAPE. If Jack and Jill could get away with being sexist and xenophobic with a PG rating, I shuddered to see what That’s My Boy could do with an R rating. So naturally, I was curious (and bored. Mostly bored).
What the trailer seemed to neglect showing is that Adam Sandler’s character is more than just a funny voice – it’s a return-to-form to the old-school Sandler character that’s been missing for so many years. I don’t count Jill from Jack and Jill, because unfortunately, she was not the protagonist, stupid straight-man Adam Sandler was. Sandler’s as terrible a straight-man as Andy Samberg (more about that later). But here in That’s My Boy, he can be goofy and profane, which is why we all fell in love with Sandler in the ‘90s.
Of course, that only means so much if there aren’t any jokes. That’s My Boy goes the easy route some times, and it’s probably been since There’s Something About Mary that there’s been a quality semen joke. But, much to my surprise, some jokes hit. More jokes than I really expected to hit hit. There are clever one-liners, decent uses of celebrity cameos (and David Spade is nowhere to be seen!), and good comic timing. Even Andy Samberg, acting like he’s in a more awkward, less realistic Dinner for Schmucks (if that’s possible), can’t bring it down too much. What’s really nice, though, is that there are almost no racist or sexist jokes, which is something we rarely see from Sandler nowadays. It’s still not good that there are any, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Remember how I said that the film began with an act of statutory rape under the guise of comedy? The film ends with a similar act of unfunny deviant, illegal sexual behavior. But at least the film has balls, and that’s not something Sandler has had for a long time. I take back what I said two weeks ago. Now we just need Sandler to produce more funny films, with less rape, and maybe even another damn drama film. You KNOW you were good in Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, do it again!