ALLEN: Hey buddy, when you gonna make another flick? I mean I know you're all tied up with the new wife and baby on the way, but you know I only get cast in your films and, man, I could use some work.
ADAM: I know buddy. I know. I want to work, but the ole lady's keeping me at home. Tell ya what I'll do buddy...you've been in most all my films. It's about time howz about you star in one? Heck, you can even write the script. Your good buddy, that assistant...what's his name? Nick Goossen, that's it. He can direct. It'll be a good experience for him. I'll get all my usual buddies to be in it...it'll be low-budget, of course, but you'll have a great time making the film and, heck, with my name on it it'll make a few bucks for all of us.
ALLEN: You'd do that for me?
ADAM: Of course, buddy, what are friends for? You've paid your dues in my films. It's about time you got one of your own.
"Grandma's Boy" is born.
"Grandma's Boy" is a comedy from Sandler's production comedy, Happy Madison, clearly aimed at fourteen-year-old boys destined to have a longer life on the video store shelf than in the theatres. It's a lazy, easygoing comedy where half the jokes fall flat, half work at least modestly and there's enough good will generated in the film that you'll leave the theatre going "That was cute."
Allen Covert has developed a long repertoire of likeable characters, primarily in Sandler's films. He's been in nearly all of them with the exceptions of "Spanglish" and "Punch-Drunk Love," and he makes an appearance in his upcoming "Click."
The film is centered around Alex, a 36-year-old video game tester working on the latest creation and secretly working on his own video game. It's a quiet, uneventful, nerdish life, but he's happy and doing work he loves. One day, he's unexpectedly evicted from his home after his stoner buddy is discovered to have been spending the rent money on Filipino hookers (aka "massage therapists").
After one hilariously disastrous night staying at the home of his tester buddy Jeff and his roommates (his parents) in which he gets busted masturbating to a Lara Croft doll, Alex reluctantly moves into a spare room with his grandmother and her two roommates. It is, ultimately, the performances of these three award-winning actresses that elevates "Grandma's Boy" above its lazy mediocrity. Alex's Grandma is played with wonderful energy by Doris Roberts, who basically does a more freestyle version of her Emmy-winning performances on "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Her roommates are played by Shirley Jones, whose bawdiness includes bedding down Jeff, a 36-year-old virgin, after telling him about giving Chaplin a handjob and having sex with both Abbott & Costello...Admit it, you've got a picture in your head. Finally, the last roommate is played by Shirley Knight, whose frumpy, possibly schizophrenic character hilariously bursts out the most nonsensical lines throughout the film.
These three actresses liven up a film that is definitely hindered by performances that are commonplace for nearly everyone here. The regular Sandler crew is present, and they've all played characters such as these before. Covert usually plays older, nerdy guys (such as the effeminate guy who befriends Nicky in "Little Nicky") and that's exactly who he is here. Yet, once again, the characters are always so common, so adorable that it's almost impossible to be bothered by the film. It's a lame film, admittedly, but it's a funny lame film.
Sandler doesn't make an appearance here, at least that I caught, though there are cameos from David Spade and Rob Schneider. In supporting roles, Nick Swardson steals every one of his scenes as the adorable, infantile Jeff, a video game tester who has clearly not yet grown up. Kevin Nealon shows up as the company's president, a New Age type who drinks tea, worries about the energy in company meetings, and does yoga throughout the film.
The other enlightening performance in "Grandma's Boy" is compliments of Linda Cardellini as Samantha, a project manager brought in when the project falls behind. Between this role and her supporting performance in "Brokeback Mountain," I'm learning that there's more to Cardellini than her mind-altering performances as Velma in the "Scooby-Doo" films and there is, in fact, an actress underneath all the lunacy. She's sweet, tender, bawdy and fun in a role that essentially hits one-note.
Joel David Moore, on the other hand, is nothing short of irritating as JP, the former 13-year-old prodigy who is a millionaire making video games but clueless about all things related to life and uses this unattractive robot voice when he gets nervous. Likewise, Peter Dante is funny but gets tiresome as Alex's former roommate, pot dealer, and buddy.
"Grandma's Boy" is an obviously low-budget film destined to leave the theatres quickly, where its targeted fourteen-year-old audience has trouble getting into it because of its inappropriate "R" rating. The film is undoubtedly "R" rated due to a breast shot, regular drug references and the MPAA dreaded "F" word. There's, quite literally, nothing in it that children don't see every day in public school and most Christian schools.
"Grandma's Boy" is a lazy comedy with performances that largely go through the motions of recreating nearly every character from past Sandler films. As written by Covert, the characters are lovable losers that are sure to remind you of someone you know. The film is elevated considerably by the performances of its three elder stateswomen, and the long-developed chemistry between the rest of the cast. Nick Goossen helms the film, but I'm not sure the film even needed a director. In "Grandma's Boy," everybody knew their parts because they'd all played them before. "Grandma's Boy" is always silly, occasionally funny, and downright sweet.
There are films in life you watch for no particular reason. They aren't necessarily hilarious. They don't make you think. They don't make you cry. They aren't brilliant, and you know it...but, you watch anyway. They're like that comfortable t-shirt you wear that should have been thrown out years ago. "Grandma's Boy" is a lazy Saturday morning t-shirt film. You may not adore it, but one day I guarantee you're going to watch it.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic