June 15, 2012

While still in his teens, Donny (Adam Sandler) fathered a son, Todd (Andy Samberg), and raised him as a single parent up until Todd’s 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd’s world comes crashing down on the eve of his wedding when an uninvited Donny suddenly shows up. Trying desperately to reconnect with his son, Donny is now forced to deal with the repercussions of his bad parenting skills.


“The role of Donny Berger is classic Adam Sandler,” says Sean Anders, who directs Sandler in the new comedy That’s My Boy.  “This is the kind of character that only Adam can play.  Donny’s behavior is off the wall, but when Adam plays it, you just like him anyway.  Watching him take on this raucous kind of role was just awesome.”

In the movie, Sandler plays the worst parent one can imagine – sure, he loves his son, and he did his best, but Donny’s best just wasn’t nearly good enough.  Still, he’s not all bad – there’s something redeeming, even endearing about Donny.  “Donny is wild, he’s crazy, he has horrible judgment, but he’s a really good guy, and he’s a joyful guy,” says Anders.  “He’s that friend that everybody has who just makes friends with everyone and anyone; he’s just OK with whatever anybody’s doing.  His capacity for joy allows the audience to forgive him a lot of his mistakes and bad judgment.”

In his first meeting with Sandler, Anders, along with his producing partner, John Morris, discussed what they saw as the heart of the movie. “John and I are drawn to stories of male bonding, and in this case, the father-son relationship carries a lot of heart – every guy has a very strong connection to his own father.  That heart cleared the way for some of the craziness of the movie – it makes the movie even more fun.”

For Anders, that relationship truly comes across especially in one scene: Donny and Todd go through a belated rite of passage as the father teaches the son to ride a bicycle.  “That scene carries the entire theme of the movie,” says the director.  “Todd has to put his trust in Donny and agree to be a son, and Donny has to be a father and not let him down.”

Who could possibly play Donny’s son (and was the right age to play the part)?  Andy Samberg thought he knew the answer and says he wouldn’t let Sandler forget it.  “I basically stalked Sandler until they cast me,” he jokes. 

“Andy always saw his character as a guy who is desperate for his father’s love, but who has been burned so many times that he’s built a wall,” says Anders.  “Anyone could have played Todd as a character who just hates his dad, then turns it around.  But with Andy I feel in every scene that Todd really wants a relationship with his father – he just doesn’t trust him.”

 “This movie is about accepting who you are and where you come from – even if that’s flawed – rather than trying to be something you’re not,” says Samberg.  “We all have skeletons in our closet, some more than others.  But family is important, no matter how screwy it is.”

“Todd has a quality that we all have to some degree – that mixture of love for his family but also a bit embarrassed about his family.  His character takes that to an extreme,” Anders explains.

Leighton Meester joins in as Todd’s fiancée, Jamie.  “She starts out seeming very nice and sweet, like a normal bride,” Meester says.  “But she turns into a full-on bridezilla.  At first, you can’t really fault her – it’s understandable, when you see what Donny is doing.  But then you find out a little more about her….”

“In real life, Leighton is a mellow, laid back, open-minded kind of person,” says Anders.  “She lends that to her character, so at first you think she’s having a sane person’s reaction to Donny’s antics.  It’s only in the course of the story that it’s brought out how over-the-top and controlling she really is.”

Milo Ventimiglia plays Chad, Jamie’s brother, a Marine. “He’s very, very serious about being a Marine,” says Ventimiglia.  “Down to the details of the uniform, the haircut, the walk, the talk, the everything that you’d expect.  He looks down on Todd.”

In the movie, Donny will need the help of his best friend if he’s going to reconnect with his son.  That best friend just happens to be Vanilla Ice, who plays himself – Todd’s “Uncle Vanny.”  As he was preparing to meet with Sandler to discuss the role, the 90s icon says, “I was thinking all the way over, ‘What’s Adam going to be like?  Is he going to be like Happy Gilmore, Madison… who’s he going to be?’ I get in there and, yes, he was like Happy Gilmore – down to earth and funny, but serious about his objective, fun to hang with.”

Anders says that Vanilla Ice’s role in the movie isn’t a cameo, but a full-on supporting role.  “He’s Donny’s former best friend and confidant,” he says.  And the director notes that the 90s legend showed surprising comedy chops. “There’s one moment in particular when his character and the convenience store guy do a kind of Keystone Kops-style move – they get surprised, they have to run away, and they bump into each other and run in opposite directions.  Every time I see the movie, I’m knocked out by Vanilla Ice doing this classic, perfectly executed, old-school silent movie maneuver.”

With a father like Donny and an “uncle” like Vanilla Ice, Todd will need to look elsewhere for a little sanity, and he finds it in Brie, who “brings a little calm to the chaos,” says the famed singer Ciara, who plays the role.  The daughter of one of the strippers at Donny’s favorite Club, Brie and Todd share a connection.  “Todd is able to tell Brie about the things going on in his life, some of the things he is feeling,” Ciara continues.  “She doesn’t judge him.  It’s sweet, and because of that, there’s a bond and an energy between them.”

The wedding takes place at the posh estate owned by Todd’s very rich boss, Steve Spirou.  Who could possibly have the presence to play him?  How about Tony Orlando (yes, the Tony Orlando).  “He’s a complicated character,” says the famed singer.  “There’s a bit of a heart in there, but he just can’t help being not too nice to people.”

Orlando met Sandler at a birthday party for Brooks Arthur, who has served as a music supervisor on countless Happy Madison projects.  “If I hadn’t gone to that birthday party, I wouldn’t be Steve Spirou,” he says.  “It goes to prove that if you show up, sooner or later someone will discover you.”

Todd’s best friends are his co-worker, Phil, and his wife, played by Will Forte and Rachel Dratch.  “Phil is a Cape Cod nerd,” says Forte.  “At first, I thought my costume was super crazy, but it turns out, this is what people wear all the time on Cape Cod.” As for playing Dratch’s husband, Forte says, “She was thrilled because they decided they wanted us to make out at a certain point and she’s been wanting to do that for a long time with me.  It all came through for her.  She probably had said some prayers the night before and they were answered.”

Jim Nance, a character marked by his straight talk and his die hard love for the New England Patriots, is played by Rex Ryan, who, when he’s not acting, moonlights as the head coach of the NFL’s New York Jets – the Patriots’ rival.  Awkward?  Nah.   “You can’t take yourself too seriously,” says Ryan. “The character is a big Boston fan and that’s just part of the role.  But you know what I heard?  They had to get all that Boston stuff, because all the Jets stuff was sold out.” 

Also joining the cast is the comedienne Luenell as veteran strip club dancer, Champale.  Champale performs at Donny’s favorite local place – Classy Rick’s Bacon and Legs strip club. “Champale has been working and stripping for over 30 years,” says Luenell.  “She put her daughter through college with this money, but it’s more than that – she really enjoys her work.   She likes to bring happiness and joy to creeps around the world, because creeps need love and attention too.”

Directed by:                                           Sean Anders

Written by:                                            David Caspe

Produced by:                                         Adam Sandler

                                                            Jack Giarraputo

                                                            Heather Parry

                                                            Allen Covert

Executive Producers:                              Barry Bernardi

                                                           John Morris

                                                           Dennis Dugan

                                                           Tim Herlihy

Cast:                                                    Adam Sandler

                                                           Andy Samberg

                                                           Leighton Meester

                                                           and James Caan

This film has been rated R by the MPAA for the following reasons: CRUDE SEXUAL CONTENT THROUGHOUT, NUDITY, PERVASIVE LANGUAGE AND SOME DRUG USE. Credits not final


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