Grandma’s Boy: Unrated
THE MOVIE Last December New York Times film critic A.O. Scott lamented that a homogenized, test-screening Hollywood no longer produces epic, triumphant failures ("Where Have All the Howlers Gone?," Dec. 18.). He was, of course, talking about auteurs overstepping their egos—Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar—but had he waited but a month he might have had his faith restored in cinema’s continued ability to turn out uncategorizable crap.
Grandma’s Boy feels like a movie made only because its makers are Adam Sandler’s friends. Co-writer/star/producer Allen Covert, co-star Peter Dante, and co-star Jonathan Loughran are all career Sandler hanger-ons, with Sandler-era SNL vets Kevin Nealon, David Spade, and Rob Schneider stopping by to phone in cameos. Of course, such trappings don’t make Grandma’s Boy any worse for the wear than, say, anything in the Deuce Bigalow oeuvre. But, lord help them, Covert and director Nicholaus Goossen actually put some effort into their funny. What they turned out is undeniably crap—but it’s been a long, long, long time since crap has reeked with such house-clearing brio.
Covert’s Alex is a mid-30s video-game tester who loses his apartment when his roommate squanders all their rent on Filipino hookers. After spending an awkward night with a co-worker, Jeff (Nick Swardson)—a young man who calls his parents his "roommates," sleeps in a bed the shape of a car, and where Alex gets caught rubbing one off to Jeff’s Laura Croft doll—Alex moves in with his grandmother (Doris Roberts) and her roommates (The Partridge Family’s Shirley Jones and stage veteran Shirley Knight). That’s it—as contrived a setup for an arrested-development stoner comedy as there ever has been—but, holy bong hit, Batman, does Grandma’s Boy bring the batshit in constant, uninterrupted waves.
The obvious: What you don’t get is anything remotely resembling good taste, acceptable behavior, or something you could reasonably call a "sense of humor." What you do get are things that may make your drink shoot out your nose if you at all have a soft spot for brain-damaged humor: Shirley Jones talking about giving Charlie Chaplin a hand job. Dance Dance Revolution video-game challenges. Kung fu monkey. A vid-game prodigy whose nervous tick is a bad robot voice. Kevin Nealon doing yoga. Gratuitous grandmother pot jokes. Gratuitous euphemisms for pot jokes. Gratuitous extended scene of fat guy suckling on large breasts joke. Gratuitous Doris Roberts playing a shoot-’em-up called "Demonic." (Did you catch the kung fu monkey?) And, in what will be for some Freaks and Geeks die-hards actual proof that there is a god, Linda Cardellini drunkenly stripper dancing while karaokeing Salt ’N Pepa’s "Push It."
THE DISC The best joke here is that Fox allowed the filmmakers to treat this DVD as if it were the Criterion package of Wild Strawberries. Not one but two commentary tracks—stick with Covert, Dante, and Swardson’s as opposed to director Goossen’s. Featurettes about Covert’s "whacking" scene, the effing monkey, and casting the movie. Deleted scenes and packages called "Scenes That Went Up in Smoke," "Unsmoked Material," and "Smoke This" that amount to B-roll stupidity. Music videos and a making-of featurette of the video. And the R-rated and unrated versions of the movie. Do note: The self-disgust you may feel for wading through all of this will never outshine the glaring fact that you did. Take it from somebody who knows.