Grandma’s Boy

Watching this slapstick slacker comedy is the cinematic equivalent of a cover band: an Adam Sandler movie without Sandler himself. A product of his Happy Madison productions, it stars a collection of the Waterboy’s best buddies and hangers-on, who proudly carry on the sophomoric humor of their master. The movie pushes longtime Sandler pal and bit player Allen Covert into the spotlight as Alex, a thirtysomething laggard and professional video game tester, forced to move in with his grandmother and her two friends after his roommate blows the rent on hookers. Soon he’s being awoken at dawn to do household chores and eat giant stacks of Granny’s pancakes, though he tells the nerds at work that he’s having wild orgies with his hot new female roomies. Veteran actress Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) cheerfully slums it up as Grandma, along with fellow seniors Shirley Knight as a pill-popping space case, and Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family) as a sexed-up silver fox who beds one of Alex’s co-workers, and claims to have given Charlie Chaplin a hand job. The sight of the former Mrs. Partridge swapping spit with a young dude is one of a handful of big laughs in a movie that averages about one funny bit every two scenes.

Covert, who helped pen the script, is one of the better things about the movie; his laconic pacing and easy charm are suited to the part, whereas Sandler’s stunted man-child act could be legitimately creepy in this setting. Also on hand is the usual gang of idiots, including SNL alums Kevin Nealon and David Spade, Peter Dante and Rob Schneider in an obligatory walk-through; even Sandler’s personal assistant Jonathon Loughran gets a few lines. Linda Cardellini (ER) plays the love interest for Alex, and does well with a nothing part — her drunken karaoke rendition of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” being a standout. The marginal storyline simply serves as a frame for gags and displays a stoner’s attention span, meandering from one setup to the next with no concern for momentum. The jokes are of the puke and fart variety, with heavy doses of masturbation and drug humor. Then there’s an African witch doctor, an evil game designer who dresses like Neo from The Matrix, strippers, pot dealers, bikers and, in a desperate last gasp, a chimpanzee. Limping into theaters in January, this will likely be bypassed by general audiences, only to be embraced on DVD by the inevitable cult of stoners that never seems to tire of weed material, no matter how stale.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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