Grandma's Boy


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Grandma's Boy
The Masked Reviewer

Well, well, well.  Where to begin on this one?

Are you a huge fan of Adam Sandler's films?  Not just big, but HUGE?  Mega-huge?  Ultra-mega-huge?  Can you watch them over and over and over again?  If so, there are definitely things about Grandma's Boy that you will appreciate.

Are you a huge fan of videogames?  Ultra-mega-huge fan?  Then there are a lot of references in this movie that you will appreciate.

Are you an ultra-mega-huge fan of marijuana?  Then get ready...Grandma's Boy will keep you riveted all the way through.

There's undoubtedly some overlap between the three groups named above.  If you kind of like Adam Sandler, are a casual fan of games, and have some pot once in a while, don't go thinking that this movie might be a big hit with you.  In fact, while the Masked Reviewer does not condone the use of drugs, this might be an excellent choice to see if you're totally wasted.

The film was directed by Nick Goossen, who as recently as four years ago was an assistant to a minor voice on Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights.  He did one short film, and now he's directing his first feature.  One certainly has to admire how he moved up in the world.  One does not have to admire his skill in directing.

The film stars Allen Covert.  If you are one of those over-the-top Adam Sandler fans, you may very well recognize him.  He's been in twelve of Adam Sandler's fifteen feature films.  They're friends from way back, and it's nice to see that Adam Sandler likes to help out his friends.  The film is produced by Adam Sandler's production company, too. 

Allen Covert is an interesting choice for lead.  He plays a tester at a videogame company (awesome).  He's supposed to be 35, and is referred to as "the old man."  The thing is...he doesn't look 35.  He looks 45.  He's done a lot of living.  There's nothing wrong with looking like you're 45, except it's kind of distracting. 

Allen Covert seems to have a Mel Gibson thing going on.  He looks a bit like him, he sounds a bit like him, and at times he seems to have some of Mel Gibson's mannerisms.  Hey, what's wrong with that?  Mel Gibson sure as heck wasn't going to do this flick, and why not get as close to some mega-star power as you can?  Even though this is Allen Covert's first lead in a feature film, he does a good job and he is likable...the trouble is...well, there are a few troubles.

Like, the movie sucks.

There, the Masked Reviewer said it.  But don't give up yet, because there are some of you who will thoroughly enjoy the movie.  But, don't kid yourselves, if you go around telling your friends how great this movie is, your friends will never trust your taste again.

It could have been a fine goofball movie, but it never quite hit its stride.  The direction wasn't good.  The director seemed to be unable to determine when a scene wasn't working.  Everything is just a little bit off in timing.  When that happens, otherwise questionable events can go from screamingly funny to agonizingly bad.  Look at Naked Gun or There's Something About Mary...timing, in a comedy film, is everything...and Grandma's Boy is lacking in the timing and flow departments.

The film also swings back and forth between "realistic" comedy with everyday characters and "random weirdness" mode, where people get into kung-fu fights with a monkey. 

The characters seem to have some chemistry, and individually seem to be able to pull off some amusing moments, but everything is choppy.  We swing back and forth between laughing with and at people, making it hard to care about what happens to anyone.  Attempts to be clever are sandwiched between really dumb slapstick and horribly overdone drug-jokes.  Pot is a major theme in the movie, yet they didn't do a single thing creative or interesting with it.  It seemed very hack.

On the other hand, the movie does portray a bit about the videogame culture.  This is something that Hollywood hasn't shown much of, and if you're a gamer, there's plenty of references to relate to and appreciate.  Remember Frog Bog?  Intelivision?  DDR?  City of Heroes?  The strange bond between gamers (shown beautifully in 40 Year Old Virgin) is touched on here, but quickly left in favor of people getting stoned and giggling a lot.

The character of Dante, played by actor Peter Dante, who has also been in a number of Adam Sandler's movies, seems to really understand the nuances of getting high.  One might assume that he got the part by being Adam Sandler's drug dealer, but that would be wild speculation on the Masked Reviewer's part.  "How much do I owe you for the weed, man?"  "Just make me a character in one of your movies, bro!"  Seems feasible.

Joel Moore (who you may recognize from Dodgeball) plays J.D., the brilliant but ultra-mega-geeky computer game developer.  He dresses like Neo from The Matrix and speaks in a robotic voice.  They tried to portray him as the biggest loser in the world.  The problem was, it wasn't was just annoying.  However, this lead to one of the funniest moments of the film.  After watching his over-the-top nerdliness get no reaction whatsoever from the audience in scene after scene, it became apparent that this would eventually come around and become completely hilarious.  Unfortunately, it's hilarious for the wrong reasons.  Have you ever seen something so lame it eventually becomes good?  That's this guy's contribution to the film.  Your disgust, embarrassment, and disbelief will turn to joy, if you can sit through the movie that long. 

The film also stars Doris Roberts ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Shirley Jones ("The Partridge Family"), Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo's Velma), and Nick Swardson (who is apparently a stand-up comic).  They're all fine.  The performances aren't the problem.  They're even given some funny moments (most of which are ruined in the trailer), but it just never adds up to much.  One joke forward, two jokes back.

Here's Everything You Need to Know(tm) -- David Spade, Kevin Nealon, and Rob Schneider all make appearances in the film.  Adam Sandler does not.  ("Be in it?  Oh, I'm really busy...I'd love to, but...gosh, my production schedule just won't allow it.  Maybe I'll be in the sequel.")  This movie's claim to fame is that Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Kevin Nealon can claim that they are not the worst things in the movie!

It does have a few funny moments, and if you never get tired of stoner humor, you'll quite possibly enjoy it.  The problem is that it's inconsistent and good moments are sandwiched between things that fall completely flat.  Again, the acting is good and there are good segments, but...there's not enough to recommend this to anyone but the most ardent fan of Adam Sandler and/or wacky-weed.  And those people probably don't even know what "ardent" means.  Just kidding!  Relax.  Put down the bong.

Expectation from the Title: A remake of the 1922 Harold Lloyd classic...but it's not.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  The lead actor looks something like Mel Gibson, and the character is good to his grandmother.

The Pros: A few funny moments (both intentionally and unintentionally).  A little nudity.  Game references will make geeks nostalgic.

The Cons: Uneven.  Far too many lame pot jokes.  Relies too much on stupid humor (robot nerd, fighting monkey) rather than on the charm and talent of actors.

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Copyright 2003, Michael D. Lynn