Starring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg. Written by David Caspe. Directed by Sean Anders. 18A. 108 min. Opens June 15.
Much like the way the main character of A Clockwork Orange was conditioned to hate the music of Beethoven after hearing it synced up to ultra-violent images, I found myself nauseated by the use of The Replacements’ “Unsatisfied” during a key juncture in That’s My Boy.
The tarnishing of a great song may not be the film’s gravest offence, however, not when That’s My Boy stands as 2012’s—and perhaps all of human history’s—most gleefully craven and misogynist movie. It’s a film in which women are energetically referred to as “whores” and “skanks” and a character played by Leighton Meester is triumphantly beaten over the head with a beer bottle—her punishment for being a manipulative, incestuous witch.
That’s My Boy is supposed to represent a passing of the goofy-Jewish-comedian torch from Adam Sandler to Andy Samberg, who play an estranged father and son combo, but it doesn’t do much with this pairing. The film is too busy being aggressively and, at times, surreally hostile and misanthropic. Lars Von Trier on his best day would have a hard time topping some of the scenes, but there’s nothing transgressive about the outrageousness—there’s none of the slyness that distinguished Sandler’s work in the deceptively silly You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.
That Munich-on-happy-pills farce is probably the best movie Sandler has ever appeared in. Though it has plenty of competition, That’s My Boy may be his worst: Lazily directed, atrociously paced and lugging about 180 pounds of comic dead-weight in the form of Vanilla Ice’s extended and embarrassing cameo as himself. By the time he and Sandler are rushing to stop a climactic wedding ceremony—the last narrative refuge of hack comedy writers—one comes to understand the urgency of Ice’s great existential query: “Will it ever stop? I don’t know.”