“That's My Boy” easily achieves a rare feat as the grossest of Adam Sandler's late-model Happy Madison junk, and it gets points for going “all-in”: there are no half-measures in Sandler's race to the nasty, sticky bottom. But all the bodily functions, dreadfully unsexy sex and plopped-in-the-middle sentiment in this father-and-son comedy come off as random, barely considered ideas hurried to the page and screen. This is Sandler doing the bare minimum for maximum profit — again — and throwing movie legends, notable nonactors and noxious pseudo-celebrities into the same mess, seemingly just to prove he can do it.
Sandler and writer David Caspe (“Happy Endings”) bookend “That's My Boy” with toxically unfunny situations, beginning in 1984 with seventh-grade Bostonian Donny Berger (Justin Weaver) being seduced by his teacher, Mary McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino) — that's “seduced” if you're being charitable, “sexually molested” if you're being legally accurate.
Sure, “That's My Boy” defenders can rationalize this as the logical next step in the Van Halen “Hot for Teacher” fantasy, but it is one thing to be hot for teacher, another thing for teacher to be hot for student.
At any rate, Donny and Miss McGarricle get busted in an act of epically stupid sex, and the teacher, now hilariously pregnant with a 13-year-old boy's child, gets sent to prison. Donny enjoys tabloid fame and is ordered to raise the baby, named Han Solo Berger, maintaining custody until his 18th birthday.
Flash forward 28 years, and Donny (Sandler using an in-and-out South Boston accent) is a has-been strip-club patron with a big tax debt. In order to get out of serving time, he hatches a scheme to harvest some reality television cash by reuniting with Han Solo and Miss McGarricle during a prison visit. So he weasels his way back into his son's life just in time to see Han Solo, an investment banker living under an assumed name and played by former “Saturday Night Live” standout Andy Samberg, get married to a comely shrew (Leighton Meester) at the estate of his boss, played by Tony Orlando (of course).
And yes, this all plays like Sandler and Caspe just started writing down random names and situations. Vanilla Ice? Why not! Todd Bridges? Probably available. Orlando? Knock three times. But then one of the classic Sandler moves is to hire some truly great actors and make them do dumb things for his and presumably the audience's amusement, and today's victims are Susan Sarandon and James Caan. They do their job. It's a sad job.
Samberg, whose talents are utterly wasted on the uptight Han Solo, recently announced he was leaving “SNL,” but it's hard to imagine that this talented comedian has this in mind as his second act. “That's My Boy” is not a boondoggle like “Grown Ups” and “Just Go With It,” Sandler's big-budget home movies about studio-sponsored vacations, but it gives Samberg almost nothing to do. He can get 95 percent more laughs during a three-minute “SNL Digital Short.”
As for the other “toxically unfunny situation” referenced earlier, that is best left to potential Happy Madison customers who scan this review, sense nonstop hilarity and decide that they can survive the corpulent strippers; geriatric lust; sketchy acting by stunt-casted Dan Patrick, Erin Andrews and Ardmore-born New York Jets coach Rex Ryan; and Nick Swardson as a vaguely written dumb guy with a mullet. Some of it will make people laugh uncomfortably between long stretches of wincing and squirming. This is the sum total of “That's My Boy,” and that's my warning.
— George Lang
‘That's My Boy'
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Eva Amurri Martino, Tony Orlando. (Crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.)