That's My Boy (2012 film)
That's My Boy is a 2012 American satirical dark comedy film directed by Sean Anders and starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. The film follows Donny Berger (Sandler), a middle aged alcoholic who once enjoyed celebrity status for being at the center of a teacher-student sexual abuse case, as he tries to rekindle his relationship with his adult son Todd (Samberg), born as the result of sexual abuse, in hopes that their reunion will earn him enough money to avoid going to prison for tax evasion.
|That's My Boy|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sean Anders|
|Produced by||Adam Sandler |
|Written by||David Caspe|
|Music by||Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Tom Costain|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$57.7 million|
The film was released on June 15, 2012, by Columbia Pictures, and despite a sizable budget for a comedy film and a cast made of well known actors, comedians, and celebrities, the film was both a critical and financial failure, grossing just $57 million against a $70 million budget. Further damaging the film's financial health was accusations of homophobic and misogynistic writing and criticism for its comedic treatment of child sexual abuse, rape, incest, and child neglect. Film critic Richard Roeper gave the film an F, calling it "an ugly, tasteless, deadly and mean-spirited piece of filmmaking," and John Hanlon of Rotten Tomatoes, certified it rotten, saying it was "easily the worst movie of 2012."
The film begins in Massachusetts in 1984, when middle schooler Donny Berger sexually harasses his teacher, Mary Beth McGarricle, who in turn gives him detention alone and sexually assaults him. In a story that parallels that of the real life teacher-turned-sex-offender Mary Kay Letourneau, Mary's continued abuse of her pupil eventually results in pregnancy, and, when her crimes are discovered, she shows no remorse and is sentenced the maximum penalty: 30 years imprisonment. Meanwhile, due to widespread media coverage of the event, Donny, blind to the seriousness of the situation at hand, enjoys his fifteen minutes of fame as a tabloid icon while his father takes custody of his newborn son, whom he names Han Solo Berger, after the Star Wars character of the same name, until Donny's 18th birthday. Unfortunately for Han Solo, even as an adult, Donny's mentality is still that of a 12 year old's and, time and time again, he proves himself to be an unfit parent, exposing Han Solo to drug and alcohol abuse, having his back illegally tattooed, forcing him to drive his father home to avoid a DUI charge, and allowing him to eat so much junk food that he becomes morbidly obese and develops diabetes mellitus type 2. Suffering from lifelong effects of the physical and psychological abuse done to him by his father, Han Solo severs all ties with Donny as an adult, changing his name to Todd Peterson and becoming a successful businessman. He also stops going to see his mother in prison after he turns 18.
In modern-day 2012, Donny, now a middle aged broke and unemployed alcoholic, is suddenly made aware of the consequences of his lifelong nonchalance when he receives a phone call from his lawyer, who informs him that he owes $43,000 in back taxes and that unless the Internal Revenue Service receives their payment in full before the end of the week, he'll go to prison for up to three years for tax evasion. Having no way to earn so much money in so little time, Donny places an 8000:1 bet that an obese runner by the name of Tubby Tuke will win the upcoming Boston Marathon and, as a backup plan, phones a sleazy tabloid talk show producer, who offers him $50,000 to film an segment for his show, but the offer is only valid if Mary and Todd appear alongside him, as the segment would be a family reunion special. Desperate to avoid prison, Donny tracks down Todd to Cape Cod, to find his son, whom he's been estranged from since Todd left him on his 18th birthday, to be planning his wedding.
As Todd is embarrassed by his parent’s scandalous past and Donny’s immaturity, he has told his fiancee Jamie that his parents are dead. He has also told her this lie to avoid answering questions about his family, so Donny poses as a family friend and, much to Todd's chagrin, is well liked by his friends and future in-laws. While Todd is able to remain cordial towards his father in front of Jamie and the others, behind closed doors, he and Donny fight constantly, all the while, Donny willfully ignorant of how his actions, both past and present, are hurting his son. When the stress of Donny's presence, combined with the stress of planning his wedding, are finally too much for him to bear, Todd ultimately suffers a mental breakdown, causing him to ruin the dress rehearsal and be banned from the church as he initiates a fight with the man who is both a church elder and the officiating priest. Donny, in a move unusual for his character, helps his son by successfully arranging for the event to take place at another church nearby. However, Donny's newfound maturity is short-lived and it's not long before crashes Todd's bachelor party, moving it from a day spa to a strip club.
With the deadline to the pay the IRS growing closer by the minute, Donny relief at finally convincing Todd to visit Mary is almost instantly replaced with feelings of guilt. He's unsuccessful in stopping Todd from visiting Mary and when he arrives at the women's prison, he's bombarded with cameras and learns of Donny's dealings with the producer. In the midst of the chaos caused by the failed reunion, Donny is presented with yet another way to earn the money he needs to pay the IRS by exploiting Todd when Jamie offers him a $50,000 check to stay mum about her infidelity, as he catches her having sex with her brother, Chad. Donny accepts the money and is in the clear.
However, the next day, this action starts to weigh heavily on his conscience and he decides to go to the wedding and stop it. Acting like a father to Todd for the first time in his life, Donny arrives at the wedding with his recently re-connected friend, Vanilla Ice, and declines Jamie's offer by ripping up the check right in front of her. He successfully stops the wedding to protect his son, while Todd, in turn, acts like a son to Donny for the first time, publicly acknowledging Donny as his father and honoring him by returning to his birth name, Han Solo.
Come Monday morning, with no more time to earn the money to repay the IRS, Donny declines his son offer to repay his debt for him and is prepared to go to prison when he learns that his bet on who would win the Boston Marathon proves good, earning him more than $160,000.
- Adam Sandler as Donald "Donny" Berger.
- Justin Weaver as 1984 Donny Berger
- Ian Ziering as TV Donny
- Andy Samberg as Todd Peterson / Han Solo Berger, Donny and Mary's biological son
- Leighton Meester as Jamie Martin, Todd's fiancée
- Susan Sarandon as Mary Beth McGarricle, Donny's middle-school teacher and Todd's mother
- Eva Amurri Martino (Sarandon's real-life daughter) as 1984 Mary McGarricle
- Ciara as Brie, a bartender and Donny's friend, Todd's secondary love interest
- Luenell as Champale, a stripper and Brie's mother
- Vanilla Ice as Himself, Donny's best friend
- Milo Ventimiglia as Chad Martin, Jamie's younger brother
- Rex Ryan as Jim Nance
- Peggy Stewart as Grandma Delores, Steve's mother
- Tony Orlando as Steve Spirou, Todd's boss
- Alan Thicke as Donny's Father on TV
- James Caan as Father McNally
- Dan Patrick as Randall Morgan
- Will Forte as Phil
- Rachel Dratch as Phil's Wife
- Abdoulaye N'Gom as Father Shakalu
- Blake Clark as Gerald Martin, Jamie and Chad's father
- Meagen Fay as Helen Martin, Jamie and Chad's mother
- Colin Quinn as Strip Club DJ
- Nick Swardson as Kenny
- Ana Gasteyer as Mrs. Ravensdale
- Todd Bridges as Himself
- Baron Davis as Gym Teacher
- Dennis Dugan as School Janitor
- Jackie Sandler (Sandler's real-life wife) as Masseuse
- Brad Grunberg as Tubby Tuke
- Peter Dante as Dante Spirou, Steve's son
The film opened on June 15, 2012 grossing $13,453,714 in its opening weekend, ranking #4 behind the second weekends of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Prometheus, and the opening of Rock of Ages.
The film grossed $36,931,089 domestically and $57,719,093 worldwide and failing to recoup its $70 million budget, making it a financial failure. This was Sandler's third box office failure, with the other two being Little Nicky, Punch-Drunk Love.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 20% based on 114 reviews, with an average rating of 3.41/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "While it does represent a new foray into raunch for the normally PG-13 Sandler, That's My Boy finds him repeating himself to diminishing effect – and dragging Andy Samberg down with him." On Metacritic the film has a normalized score of 31 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A to F scale.
Justin Chang of Variety called it "a shameless celebration of degenerate behavior, a work of relentless vulgarity and staggering moral idiocy." Alonso Duralde gave the film a scathing review, calling it "vulgar, trite, sexist, misogynist, hacky, tacky, gross, sentimental and stupid, with occasional flourishes of racism and veiled homophobia thrown in to boot." Online review show Half in the Bag called the film "pathetic" and "painful", and went on to criticize Sandler as a comic, suggesting he was unable to create humor that was not based on childish jokes.
|Houston Film Critics Society||Worst Film||Won|
|33rd Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Picture||Nominated|
|Worst Actor||Adam Sandler||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Nick Swardson||Nominated|
|Vanilla Ice (as himself)|
|Worst Director||Sean Anders|
|Worst Screenplay||written by David Caspe, uncredited rewrites by Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy, Robert Smigel, David Wain, and Ken Marino||Won|
|Worst Screen Couple||Adam Sandler and either Leighton Meester, Andy Samberg, or Susan Sarandon||Nominated|
|Worst Ensemble||The entire cast|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Summer Movie: Comedy/Music||Nominated|
|Choice Summer Movie Star: Male||Adam Sandler|
|Choice Summer Movie Star: Female||Leighton Meester|
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