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Sandler serves up another messy movie

"That's My Boy" is an occasionally tolerable Adam Sandler movie for one reason: It's not just an Adam Sandler movie. It's an Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg movie. And it's wise, if that's the right word, to have Samberg playing against Sandler for most of the film, rather than playing off him.

There are a few moments submerged in this film's prevailing idiocy that demonstrate Sandler and Samberg's good chemistry as a mismatched duo. They should have just forgotten about this mess and moved onto an entirely different movie. As should you.

It would take a great act of sorcery for Sandler to deliver anything worse than "Jack and Jill," his dual-role fiasco from last year, so "That's My Boy" is, inevitably, an improvement. But Sandler is almost as grating as Donny Berger, a scruffy, beer-guzzling man-child. In the 1980s, when Donny was 13, his school teacher crush had him stay for detention and then offered, shall we say, a more unique form of punishment. While the teacher was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Donny shot to celebrity status in recognition of his achieving what is considered here to be every schoolboy's greatest sexual fantasy.

Meanwhile, his son – whom he named Han Solo Berger – put up with him for 18 years, and then, understandably, disappeared.

Twenty-five years later, Donny is so washed up that his best friend is Vanilla Ice. (Yes, that Vanilla Ice. He's one of the funniest things about this film. Intentionally.) Donny is facing a prison sentence for owing $43,000 in taxes to the IRS. His son, somehow, grew up to be a successful hedge fund manager and ditched his birth name in favor of a rather unheroic identity as Todd Peterson (Samberg). Despite his wealth, Todd isn't really faring much better than his old man: He's a Xanax-popping diabetic who clumsily tries to fit in with the white-bread family of his soon-to-be-wife, Jamie (Leighton Meester). In a get-rich-quick scheme that only makes sense in the film's rushed logic, Donny crashes his son's million-dollar wedding weekend in hopes of reconnecting and, maybe, scoring some cash.

Donny's childishness inexplicably wins over the uptight wedding guests, but it is Samberg who makes the vulgarity amusing by awkwardly, tensely resisting it. Releasing the movie on Father's Day weekend makes the intentions of this debasement rather curious. If there are any families that think "That's My Boy" would be a good fatherly bonding experience, then the daddy issues depicted in this film are nothing in comparison.?

email: jsilverstein@buffnews.com

***

"That's My Boy"

1 stars (out of four)

Rated R for crude sexual content throughout, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use

Adam Sandler plays a crumb bum of a father who crashes the wedding of his wealthy estranged son, played by Andy Samberg.