‘That’s My Boy’ Flops: Why Sandler’s R- Rated Antics Turn Audiences Off
Adam Sandler is loved and treasured by modern mainstream audiences because of his wholesome roles in films like "50 First Dates" or "Mr. Deeds." Though relying on PG-13 rated crude humor, these films and many other Happy Madison productions bring a true heart to the table and his egghead characters win audiences over nearly every time. After all, there's a reason the guy makes $20 million a movie. But, his latest film has tanked and some seem to be curious as to why. Is this the death of Sandler's star power? No. It is not.
Sandler's latest romp has him starring as a mullet wearing, beer guzzling, sexually crude middle age lowlife who became famous for having a sexual relationship with his teacher when he was 13. The affair ended in a pregnancy and Donny (Sandler) hasn't spoken to his son since he turned 18. But, now he needs his well-to-do son to help him pay back taxes because, in his own words, "I thought they took that out automatically!"
"That's My Boy" opened to a mere $13.5 million over this last weekend and that's compared to Sandler's comedies usually pulling in at least a $20 million opening weekend. What's the difference? Most Sandler comedies stop short of jokes about child molestation, incest, sex with grandmothers, etc.
The Sandler that the public demands and rightly deserves is the man we see smiling his way through films like "Grown Ups" and "Just Go With It." These films are delightful and serve a great purpose and Sandler should be proud of them, but any Sandler fan knows that there is more than what meets the eye. Sandler has always had a deeper layer only hinted at in his mainstream movies; the layer of the ticking time bomb. Tick Tick Tick. His brain ticks and ticks away until he feels an f- word or proper sexual joke is needed...or a mental outburst. This Sandler that most audiences only get a taste of in the majority of his roles may be the true comedian at heart. Most of the time we are given the facade of the actor Sandler, but the comedian is like the evil step brother that is the black sheep of the family and is only allowed to peek at audiences every once in awhile. And by peek, I mean moon us while laughing and never spilling his beer in the process. Wicked.
This other side of Sandler is obviously shown in his more offbeat work that never, ever connects with a mainstream audience. Whether it's going slightly serious for films like "Punch Drunk Love" or "Funny People" or going completely bat shit crazy for films like "That's My Boy" or "Little Nicky," we get a glimpse at the pure, unhinged talent of Adam Sandler. And it's crazy and great...all wrapped in one.
So, it's predictable that Sandler's latest wouldn't connect with his usual audience. In was more obvious when I was in the theater rolling on the floor laughing as older couples walked out of the theater shaking their heads in either same or disgust or both.
Is it for everyone? No. Films like "That's My Boy" and "Grandma's Boy" are only made because films like "50 First Dates" can actually come close to pleasing everyone (critics not included). If you don't thinking James Caan (equipped with a terrible Irish accent) fighting Andy Samberg isn't funny or Allen Covert telling his monkey not to judge him isn't funny then clearly the dark comedy of the comedian Sandler and his Happy Madison production house are not for you. Stick to "Grown Ups."
Sandler may turn most audiences off when he's making comedy out of a teacher molesting a kid or becoming a more serious version of himself for the much misunderstood "Funny People," but we feel in those films that there are 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 dramatic moments. The film may be off the wall in its comedy and see no lines as too far, but deep down in that immaturity is the pure heart of mature men. "That's My Boy" provides poignant moments of father son dilemmas and bonding. The only issue is that most people won't sit past the first rape joke to find out.
The point is this: next time you're purchasing that ticket, know which Sandler you're getting or what kind of movie it is. Is it a film that lays everything on the table where we get the truly dark immature comedian or is it the nice wholesome actor we all know and love? It's true for Sandler and many others. Sandler will never convince the majority of people that he's a great actor or that incest can be funny, but a select few can find themselves amused at the idea of the films that try and push those kinds of ideas. In Breitbart's amazing life, he found humor in the offensive "Grandma's Boy" and in my, by comparison, miniscule and unaccomplished life I've found humor and truth in "That's My Boy." On second thought, there is no point. Just laugh your ass off people. No matter what you’re laughing at.