Adam Sandler’s celebration of stunted-maturity stupidity continues unabated in That’s My Boy, another Happy Madison production that, following the lead of its headliner, revels in a stale old routine. The star’s latest loudmouthed man-child is Donnie, who as a teenager impregnated his sexpot teacher (Eva Amurri Martino), fathered a child with her, and became a tabloid celebrity. Cut to the present day, and Donnie is a back tax-owing, Boston-accented lowlife still desperate to live off his former notoriety. When he finds himself in urgent need of $43,000, Donnie turns to his estranged son (Andy Samberg), a soon-to-be-married hedge fund manager who changed his name from the ludicrous Han Solo to the more respectable Todd. Cue awkward hijinks when Donnie reappears in Todd’s life on the eve of the young man’s wedding to Jaime (Leighton Meester). Yet the madcap insanity that ensues—maximizing its R rating via gags involving overweight strippers, incest, masturbating to pictures of grandma (Peggy Stewart), a fisticuff-loving Irish priest (James Caan), and the usual vomit-and-semen gags—is never as outrageous as it pretends to be, in large part because it’s like charmingly degenerate Donnie himself: vulgar on the outside, sweet and cuddly on the inside.
With Donnie making life stressful for Todd by pretending to be his best friend, That’s My Boy partakes in two of Sandler’s favorite indulgences: sports-world cameos, here fulfilled by Baron Davis, Rex Ryan, and Dan Patrick, and ‘80s-‘90s nostalgia, which takes the form of Van Halen songs and the participation of Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges. As is so often the case with his mainstream comedies, rather than rare efforts like Punch-Drunk Love or Funny People, which sought to examine his big-screen persona, the film lazily exists in a fantasyland of Sandler’s perpetual adolescence, even as it generates some moderate comic friction from Sandler and Samberg’s testy back-and-forth.
While gay-panic jokes are largely absent, a tired undercurrent of anti-femininity courses throughout the proceedings, not just in pansy Todd’s embrace of his ne’er-do-well father’s raunchy ethos, but in revelations about Jamie and her aggro military brother, Chad (Milo Ventimiglia), and the general depiction of women as either libidinous freaks or Barbie bimbos. In the spirit of being thankful for small victories, however, there are at least more laughs in the first 15 minutes of the film than in the entirety of Grown-Ups, and a late appearance by Susan Sarandon—sensually illustrating intercourse with her fingers through a glass partition—manages to momentarily give this juvenile boys-will-be-boys effort a real, mature jolt of goofball sexuality.