You might have heard this story before: In 1984, schoolteacher Mary McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino) was caught having sex with her barely pubescent student Donny Berger (Justin Weaver), resulting in tabloid headlines, a pregnancy, jail time for her and high-fiving for him. Thirty years later, he is unemployed and functionally alcoholic, with no idea what became of his child.
That's the premise of Adam Sandler's latest comedy, "That's My Boy," which finds sniggering humor in teen sexual abuse and other depressing topics. And if you're already doubling over with laughter, then happy Father's Day! Your weekend must-see flick has arrived.
To be sure, Sandler has never been our most sensitive comedian, but even his crudest comedies tend to have a glimmer of heart. "That's My Boy," directed by newcomer Sean Anders and written by David Caspe ("Happy Endings"), is surprisingly mean-spirited from start to finish.
Sadder even than Donny (played as an adult by Sandler with his fallback gimpy accent) is his estranged son, Todd (Andy Samberg), a wealthy Wall Streeter still suffering from the neuroses and diabetes he developed as an obese child. Samberg plays the socially maladroit Todd almost too well, sniveling pathetically around his demanding fiancee, Jamie (Leighton Meester), and her hostile brother, Chad (Milo Ventimiglia).
When Donny crashes Todd's tony wedding, "That's My Boy" goes in for shock-the-snobs comedy, but the snobs are already repugnant types like Todd's leering boss, Steve (Tony Orlando), and Jamie's sex-crazed granny, Delores (Peggy Stewart). By contrast, Donny's sad-sack friends are one-hit rapper Vanilla Ice and former child star Todd Bridges, whose self-mockery is more depressing that funny.
The climactic plot twist of "That's My Boy" won't be spoiled here. Let's just say it's a bad-taste shocker in a movie that already had more than its share.