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Mr. Brown Verses That's My Boy

Aria Prescott, one of my friends via Facebook and one of many people who've influenced me to star up this movie blog site, told me that what sets me apart when I write reviews was the fact that i'm usually fair in my reviews, even to movies that were just terrible. I have to agree with her: Even in what I think are bad films, I can find something decent to give the movie credit for. Maybe it was a scene that really stood out, or a performance by an actor, or maybe it was a message or a concept the filmmaker and/or screenwriter was trying to get across that I thought was interesting, but simply failed to expand upon its premise. But every once in a while, there are movies that are so aggressively bad, so unlikable and so god damn disrespectful to it's audience that there just isn't a single scene, performance or trait of which a movie can hang it's hat on, and there's no genre in film that is more prone to this than the gross-out/sex comedy. These kinds of movies fall into three categories: It's either a flat-out gut-buster filled with likable characters and heart; a retread of other better comedies with jokes that are hit/miss and filled with sappy sentiment; or the worst of the lot: a nasty, mean spirited picture that never once hits the funny bone and has characters who act more like stereotypical caricatures rather than likable people. These are the kind of movies that makes you really question why you go to the cinema in the first place, if studios are able to churn out rancid, detestable shit like That's My Boy.

Yep, for my debut review, i'm taking on the most embarrassing and hideous Sandler flick i've had the misfortune of watching since 2008's You Don't Mess with the Zohan, and what I feel is one of the worst comedies of all time. Before I even begin to explain all the things that are inherently wrong with this tripe, I have to talk about the film's star, and his fall from grace.

Adam Sandler was a favorite of mine growing up, alongside Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Spade and Chris Farley. Sandler's roles basically boiled down to him acting like a man-child who refuses to grow up, and as a kid, I loved that! I loved watching him eating paste in Billy Madison, going ape-shit on the golf course in Happy Gilmore, and lampooning the 80's culture in The Wedding Singer. My devotion for Sandler even led me to defending Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds, the two movies where many critics feel his shtick became repetitive and annoying, and I feel that's not really accurate. Sandler showed he was more than capable of doing serious work and taking his man-boy persona to darker avenues in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, which I feel is still the best and most mature performance he's given to date. In that same year, he released a holiday animated flick, Eight Crazy Nights, where Sandler plays the same role, but this time the gags came off as more mean-spirited and hateful rather than funny and light-hearted. Also, the sappy sentimentality where it's revealed that the reason for Davey Stone's antics results from his parents' tragic death around the holiday season, giving the character a cop-out for saying and doing the most childish and hateful things during the Jewish holiday.

That film put Sandler and his comedy stylings in a less-than positive light, and as the years progressed, he only got more aggressively worse. From the lackluster Anger Management the following year, the deeply homophobic I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry in 2007, the lazy and plotless Grown Ups in 2010, the bland and predictable Just Go With It and the infamous Jack and Jill, both of which came out last year, Sandler's never-changing routine still brought in big bucks at the box office, but it ate away everything that I liked about him in the first place. Which leads me to That's My Boythe juvenile comedy that, in a perfect world, would be the not only the final nail in the coffin in Sandler's career, but also the freshly dug grave as well.

The film opens in 1984 where a young Donny talks to his friends about boobs, handjobs and making gay slurs. No, really: we're 30 seconds into the movie, and I already feel really creeped out. And FYI: middle-school kids using naughty, vulgar words isn't the same thing as comedy! It only gets worse from here. See, it turns out Donny's teacher, Mrs. McGarricle is hot for student, so she takes him up on his offer of having sex with him, leading to a montage of all the times they've bumped uglies, including where the pair are caught fucking in the middle of the school's pep rally! Let me stop right here for a moment and say the following:

What the fuck!?

I've seen some shitty premises to movies before, and this ranks as one of the most coarse and vile of the lot. I don't care if you're Todd Philips, Seth McFarlane, Judd Apatow, or Sasha Baron Cohen: there's no possible scenario in which you can take an exploitative and innocence-robbing premise of statutory rape and pedophilia and turn it into a wacky scenario! It's not funny, original or clever in any way; it's just scraping the bottom of the barrel to score cheap laughs because the writers and Adam Sandler couldn't come up with anything original to say. And speaking of, the writers to this monstrosity were apparently trying to lampoon the whole young student-teacher fetish, and even in that instance, the premise is still wrong because there have been cases where young boys and young girls have been taken advantage of by their teachers who are supposed to care, mold, and shape them for the future.

 I should mention that the act of banging the teacher in front of everyone earns him a standing ovation by his peers, results in jail time for his 6th grade teacher and an unwanted pregnancy ;that the courts give full custody of the child to the 12 year-old boy. All of this has to equal one outcome: Donny becomes an instant celebrity overnight! Yes, you're reading that correctly. Instead of having deep sympathy for a character who just had his innocence ripped by his sixth grade teacher and is mandated by the state of Massachusetts to father the product of an inappropriate teacher-student affair, the movie celebrates all this in an 80's montage where he spends all his money and fame, only to have him turn into Sandler in the present day as a total burnout/alcoholic in trouble with the IRS. This isn't a premise to a comedy, or even remotely funny: it has all the makings of a cautionary tale of how false fame and hard partying leaves someone like a Donny into a washed up, forty-something after the public uses him up and discards him like the piece of white trash that they, undoubtedly, see him as. What's even worse is that the filmmakers celebrate short-lived fame, especially for it's disgusting premise! This film is simply rotten to its core.

Sorry about the rambling there. Anywho, back to Sandler, his terrible Bawston accent, and the shameless mugging he'll be doing for the remainder of the movie. Donny will go to jail if he doesn't pay back $43,000 he owes in back taxes, so he hatches up a scheme to get his son, Han Solo Berger (one of many 'hilarious' 80's pop-culture references that are made in this dungheap), to do a TV interview, reuniting him with his bastard father and imprisoned mother at a woman's correctional facility. Problem is, Han Solo doesn't want anything to do with him, and given what we learn thought the move, we can't blame him one bit. Hell, he changed his name to Todd Peterson (Andy Samberg, why????) and told everyone he's met that his parents died in a car accident in order to avoid the shame of being linked to his father's messed up life. But being the desperate fuck up that he is, Donny eventually seeks out his estranged son and finds him at Cape Cod, about to be married to his fiancee, Jamie (Leighton Meester, of TV's Gossip Girl). Being that this is a shamelessly cliched and recycled 'comedy' (I use comedy in the loosest of terms here), you can already guess what happens, because we've seen this a thousand times, from Meet the Parents to Bridesmaids - two better, funnier comedies, by the way - Donny shows up, unannounced, not knowing the truth of the relationship between he and the groom-to-be, and all hell breaks loose. Let me give you the bullet points on all the witless gags that run thought the film:

  • Todd reveals to his father the now-warped tattoo of New Kids on the Block that Donny, in a display of his fantastic parenting skills, got him when he was going through puberty.
  • Donny overhears his son being yelled at by his bitchy finacee, and tells him that he needs to learn how to stand up for himself. Todd tries this out...by getting into a fistfight with the presiding priest of the wedding ceremony, Father McNally (James Cann, shamelessly phoning it in for his check).
  • Donny and Todd go out on a drinking binge for the bachelor party. There, the pair bond over strippers, more booze, and Donny reacquaints himself with his friend Vanilla Ice (really), making amends over fucking his mom. The morning after, Todd, in a drunken state, has sex with a mannequin  wearing Jamie's wedding dress, but not before vomiting and spraying his load all over the mannequin, and the dress. Donny and Vanilla Ice DP the mother of Todd's boss, Steve. She's well into her 80's.
Add in a reunion between Donny and Todd reuniting with his mother (an infuriating cameo by Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon), a plot twist that somehow manages to be even more gross and degrading than the movie's opening premise and Sandler and Ice tag-teaming on granny pussy (hint: incest in involved with one of the main female characters) and a deeply phony and insulting half-hearted attempt at sentimentality, and you have That's My Boy, a joyless, mean-spirited mess of a movie that wallows in it's own feces and drags everyone down with it. There is not a single redeemable feature in this nearly two-hour runtime, and none of it's supporting actors escape without their dignity being tarnished in some way. The script takes it's exploitative& premise of rape and pedophilia and turns it into something people celebrate and gives it's victim instant star status, instead of condemning the actions of the predator and the worse-case situation the young boy finds himself in namely being a father at age 13. Worst of all is Adam Sandler himself delivering to me, the worst comedic performance i've ever seen since Tom Green in Freddy Got Fingered. This is the kind of loathsome filmmaking I was referring to earlier on, the kind of movie that makes you question just why you go to the movies in the first place, when major studios can conjure up something that shows nothing but contempt for its audience and cynically believes that this is what audiences want and deserve.

zero stars out of ****

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