Parenting is hard work, especially when you’re just a kid yourself, but imagine being a parent at that age while managing immense money and fame, it’s simply unfathomable. In 2012, Sandler expanded on his comedy reputation, by tackling his warped take on a father-son relationship in more ways than one, in That’s My Boy.
When Donny Berger successfully seduces his teacher, they begin a clandestine affair. The details get out, and so does the fact that McGarricle is pregnant, and will be incarcerated for 30 years. Donny rides the trial’s media train to wealth and fame, in 2012, his fortunes have all washed up. When certain issues with the government mean that he owes $43,000, he’s got to raise money for his bill by the end of the weekend or face jail. His son, Han Solo Berger, has meanwhile severed all ties with his father and has moved on to a successful job in finance and a loving fiancé. Donny’s hopes could be saved if he can reunite his son, with his mother on live T.V. Donny, therefore, plans on gatecrashing Han and Jamie’s wedding weekend (graciously hosted at Han’s employer’s summer home). Either Donny’s or Jamie’s relationship with Han will be left irrecoverably damaged at the end of this weekend away.
If that premise sounds a little more in-depth than your typical Sandler film, you’d be right in both its scope and its content. It goes to some …interesting places… to mine its comedy. Yes, the relationship between Donny and his teacher is a touchy subject. But without going into too much detail, other characters may have some taboo secrets of their own, that the film will explore. While Sandler’s films are known for their reliance on recurring celebrity guest stars, and product placement, those elements aren’t as ever-present here. A cameo from Vanilla Ice is a nice touch, self-deprecating, as is bringing Susan Sarandon as McGarricle 30 years later.
Sandler’s Berger embodies obnoxiousness with aplomb, bringing back Wassup! Wearing Axe Body Spray et al. With Adam Sandberg serving as a straight-man for most of the film. I do not know if this match-up solely exists to play’s on their similar names (fictional relationships have been built on less). Han Solo Berger is a mathematical savant with a few idiosyncrasies and a diabetic condition as a result of eating Chocolate Cake for breakfast in his childhood. There’s a recurring theme in exploring how much being a young millionaire would make you a terrible father: giving his pet snake Quaaludes, and getting him a Backstreet Boys tattoo at a very young age are just some examples, and the staples of gross-out gags and physical pratfalls remain baked in the comedy.
That’s My Boy goes for the rafters in trying to shock the viewer, and if you’re into that kind of thing, it will present a smorgasbord of uncomfortable humour for you. It’s interesting to approach That’s My Boy as a prototype or forbearer for the evolution that Sandler’s comedy will undertake, as the formula gets refined and built upon, especially in the future. If you can stomach the crude attitude, and subject, you might find That’s My Boy will prove to be a chip off the old block.
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