Adam Sandler’s movie stardom began with his 1995 hit comedy Billy Madison. In that movie, Sandler played a boozy, mentally deficient manchild who spoke in Novocain-induced Mid-Atlantic English and, as it turns out in the end, had a good heart. Seventeen years later, we get to see what has become of Billy Madison—or at least, what would have become of him were not for the love of a good woman and a new found passion for education. Sandler’s new movie, That’s My Boy (formerly I Hate You Dad) slaps Sandler back into the sort of character that launched his career: the very same sort of grown-up idiot. Only this time around, it seems a lot sadder.
The new green-band trailer depicts Donny (Sandler), a lonely, middle-aged party boy in trouble with the law, trying to reconnect with Todd (Andy Samberg) the son he conceived at age thirteen and raised on his own until Todd moved out on his eighteenth birthday, cutting ties with his dad entirely. Although there’s certainly a place for black comedy, the inception of this story seems far too sad to make way for the screwball humor that is Sandler’s bread and butter. How can you really fault this guy for turning out the way he did, and for raising a son so poorly, when he was just barely a teenager with his own abusive father when Todd was born?
Setting aside any real sincerity, the film looks to be perfect for thoroughbred Sandler fans. Whereas his recent roles have taken more of a straight man stance, this one places him back in full mid-’90s buffoonery with the comically capable Andy Samberg at his side.