When Adam Sandler steps out of his wheelhouse of PG-13 silly comedies (some of which are quite funny), great things can happen. He may have made more R-rated movies than PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, FUNNY PEOPLE, and his latest, THAT'S MY BOY, but those three films are among his finest efforts, even when they aren't designed for nonstop laughs. The good news for his old-school fans is that That's My Boy more or less is designed for the HAPPY GILMORE and BILL MADISON set. Sandler's got a goofy version of a Boston accent, and the movie is wall-to-wall jokes, most of which reach a level of giggle-worthy filth that Sandler has never attempted or achieved.
In the film, Sandler plays Donny, who was seduced in his early teens by his teacher and fathered a baby named Todd (played as an adult by Andy Samberg). In the early scenes of Donny as a boy, the joke is that no one really thinks a crime has been committed since the teacher (Eva Amurri Martino) is so hot, and the kids becomes a big celebrity at an early age. But this life-long screw-up does such a terrible job raising his child that when Todd turns 18, he leaves his home never wanting to see his dad again.
As Donny gets older, his celebrity fades and he ends up in serious trouble with the IRS, which is threatening to toss him in jail if he doesn't pay back taxes. A tabloid TV show promises to cover his debt if he can arrange a meeting between himself, Todd and Todd's mother in jail (she got 30 years for sexing up a consenting minor), so Donny goes to reunite with Todd on the weekend that just happen to be when he's getting married to Jamie (Leighton Meester).
The crass, beer-guzzling Donny doesn't exactly fit in with the upscale crowd that is in town for the wedding, some of whom are staying with Todd's boss (played quite humorously by Tony Orlando...let that one sink in a bit), but he manages to charm his way into coming to the wedding. Todd has told everyone that his parents were dead, so Donny must pretend he's Todd's best friend, and eventually best man.
Aside from just populating THAT'S MY BOY with funny supporting players (Will Forte, Rachel Dratch), unfunny supporting players (Nick Swardson), and bizarre supporting players, such as James Caan as a priest and Vanilla Ice as one of Donny's best friends from his youth in a role that should not work, but it somehow does, primarily because Vanilla Ice has no dignity when it comes to comedy. What transpires in the movie are a series of largely tasteless acts featuring underwritten characters doing depraved things, yet somehow it all mostly works.
I'll admit it, I laughed my ass off during this two-hour act of vulgarity, came close to puking a few times, and was thoroughly entertained by this chaotic mess of a comedy. It feels a bit like Sandler, writer David Caspe (creator of the funny TV show "Happy Endings"), and director Sean Anders (director of SEX DRIVE and co-writer of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, working with Sandler for the first time) have taken a kitchen-sink approach to the humor, but most of it lands.
Sandler has a lot to make up for. His last two films, JUST GO WITH IT and the abysmal JACK & JILL, still suck, and what he's got lined up (a GROWN-UPS sequel and a valet comedy with Kevin James and Kevin Hart) don't look nearly as promising, but here's hoping he goes back to his depraved roots. And bring back Vanilla Ice; that old dog may still have a little life in him yet. If you can handle the grotesque, THAT'S MY BOY could be right up your alley.