Adam Sandler is loved and treasured by modern mainstream audiences becauseof his wholesome roles in films like “50 First Dates” and “Mr.Deeds.” Though relying on PG-13-level humor, these films and manyother Happy Madison productions bring a true heart to the table, and his eggheadcharacters win audiences over nearly every time. After all, there’s a reasonthe guy makes $20 million a movie. But his latest film, “That’s My Boy,” is tanking, and someseem curious why this happened. Is this the death of Sandler’s star power? No. Itis not.
Sandler’s latest romp has him starring as Donny Berger, a mullet-wearing, beer-guzzling,sexually crude, middle-aged low life who became famous for having a sexualrelationship with his teacher when he was 13. The affair ended in a pregnancy, and Donny hasn’t spoken to his son (Andy Samberg) since the young man turned 18. But now Donny needs his well-to-do son to help him pay back taxes because, in his own words,
“That’s My Boy” opened to a mere $13.5 million over the weekend, whereas Sandler’s comedies usually pull in at least $20 million – or much more. What’s the difference? Most Sandler comedies stopshort of jokes about child molestation, incest, sex with grandmothers, etc.
The Sandler the public demands, and rightly deserves, is the man we seesmiling his way through films like “Grown Ups” and “Just Go WithIt.” These films are delightful and serve a great purpose, and Sandlershould be proud of them, but any Sandler fan knows that there is more than whatmeets the eye. The comic actor has always had a deeper layer only hinted at in hismainstream movies–the layer of the ticking time bomb. Hisbrain ticks and ticks away until he feels an F-word is needed or a mental outburst. This Sandler, that most audiences only get ataste of in the majority of his roles, may be comedian’s true self.
This other side of Sandler is obviously shown in his more offbeat work thatnever connects with a mainstream audience. Whether it’s going slightlyserious for films like “Punch Drunk Love” or “Funny People”or going completely bat shit crazy for films like “That’s My Boy” or
So, it’s predictable that Sandler’s latest wouldn’t connect with his usualaudience. In was more obvious when I was in the theater rolling on the floorlaughing as older couples walked out of the theater shaking their heads ineither same or disgust or both.
Is it for everyone? No. Films like “That’s My Boy” andDates” can actually come close to pleasing everyone (critics notincluded). If you don’t think James Caan (equipped with a terrible Irishaccent) fighting Samberg isn’t funny or Allen Covert telling his monkeynot to judge him isn’t funny, then clearly the dark comedy of the comedianSandler and his Happy Madison production house are not for you. Stick to
Sandler may turn most audiences off when he’s finding humor in a teachermolesting a kid or becoming a more serious version of himself for the muchmisunderstood “Funny People,” but we feel in those films that thereare no deeper layers being hidden. Everything is on the table, both comedy and drama.These more offbeat films bring both.
Even “That’s My Boy” provides us with those comedic and dramaticmoments. The film may be off the wall in its comedy and see no line not worth crossing, but deep down in that immaturity is the pure heart of mature men.bonding. The only issue is that most people won’t sit past the first rape joketo find out.
The point is this: next time you’re purchasing that ticket, know whichSandler you’re getting or what kind of movie it is. Is it a film that layseverything on the table where we get the truly dark, immature comedian, or is itthe nice wholesome actor we all know and love? It’s true for Sandler and manyothers. Sandler will never convince the majority of people that he’s a greatactor or that incest can be funny, but a select few can find themselves amusedat the idea of the films that try and push those kinds of ideas.
In Andrew Breitbart’samazing life, he found humor even in offensive fare like “Grandma’s Boy.” And I found myself laughing throughout “That’s My Boy” even though it was crude and pointless. Just laugh your ass off, people, no matter what you’re laughing at.