I must admit at the start that I had a major crush on one of my teachers in high school. I’m not going to name her (she knows who she is) but it appears to be something that everyone goes through at one time or another. It happened to Donny Berger (Justin Weaver) when he was in 8th grade. In an attempt to show off for some classmates Donny gets fresh with the very beautiful Miss McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino) and ends up in detention. While there the teacher scolds him for his actions. She continues to scold him through the school year until they are discovered. She is sentenced to 30 years in prison and, on her way to the big house reveals that she is pregnant. Donny’s parents are given custody of the baby and, upon turning 18, Donny is given the responsibility of raising it. Bad move.
Pretty much a “Hangover” – lite, “That’s My Boy” is Sandlers return to the raunchy side of his career, where films like “Little Nicky” are found. After 20 years as a talk show staple and the subject of a movie of the week starring “90210’s” Ian Ziering as Donny, Donny Berger (now played by Sandler) is now nothing more than a punch line. He’s just been informed that he’s never paid income taxes on the money he made and now faces prison unless he can come up with an initial payment. To get the money he tries to get a spot on a Jerry Springer/Maury Povich type show hosted by Randall Morgan (the getting-funnier-each-time-I-see-him-in-an-Adam-Sandler-movie Dan Patrick). Morgan offers Donny $50,000 if he can reunite with Miss McGarricle at the woman’s prison she’s in. And he needs to bring his son with him. If only he could find him.
Mildly amusing (and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, “That’s My Boy” gets it’s good grades not from its stars but from the supporting cast. Hilarious turns by Tony Orlando (!), Vanilla Ice and the adult Miss McGarricle (don’t want to give away a bit of classic casting) keep the laughs coming. For those of you familiar with Sandler’s comedy CDs, he has decided to use his “Toll Booth Willie” voice for Donny, which is like a high pitched, intoxicated JFK. As Donny’ son, Todd (which he changed when he became an adult because he didn’t like his birth name – Han Solo), Samberg is adequate. He’s very funny in short bursts on “Saturday Night Live,” but the shtick gets old quickly as the film goes on. The film is also stocked with many SNL veterans in cameo roles, including Will Forte, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer. Also look for Sandler vets Nick Swardson, Colin Quinn, Dennis Dugan and others to fill the minor roles.
I took a lot of heat earlier this year when I became one of only three critics in the world to recommend Sandler’s “Jack and Jill.” But as a 15 year old boy in a 51 year old man’s body I make no apologies. “That’s My Boy” is much funnier than “Jack and Jill.” And, as I finish this, I see that no fewer than SIX critics have already been positive on Rotten Tomatoes so please don’t flame our site this time!