If there’s one genre Required Viewing has sorely neglected, it’s the Adam Sandler oeuvre. We’ve remedied that with a screening of Grandma’s Boy, which is under the Sandler comedy umbrella but doesn’t showcase an appearance by the man himself. It’s a side player showcase, and I’m dying to know how you like this film, Brooke. You know the drill: why did I make you watch this movie, and what did you think of it?
B: First off, I’m going to have to protest the use of the word oeuvre within the same sentence as Adam Sandler. The man has had some successful pictures, but when you phone it in so hard that even the casual movie viewer can detect that you select projects based on where you want to vacation with your pals, you lose the right to serious consideration. Okay, /rant. This is about Grandma’s Boy, which is rather problematic (we’ll get there), but quite enjoyable nonetheless.
I’m pretty sure you elected to make we watch Grandma’s Boy because you get a kick throwing me off-balance with non-Brooke movies you know I’ll enjoy. Also, probably because you wanted to watch a movie made of amusing shenanigans that provides a great excuse to say “FUCKIN’ RAGE!” quite often? Amirite? For a fair portion of this movie I wasn’t sure where we were headed, but I was never bored nor disinterested. Rather, I just wanted a lot more of the old lady roommates and Nick Swardson and Linda Cardellini. There were some genuine laugh-out-loud moments to be had here. And honestly, I’m a bit surprised that was the case. I love when pictures that are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator sneak in some highly intellectual jokes and Grandma’s Boy did that particularly well. Of course, it also featured a sequence with a grown ass man jerking it to a plastic doll, so, you know, full spectrum.
Okay, AM. Why did you pick Grandma’s Boy? What has brought you back for multiple viewings? And do you get anxiety watching all of the video game challenges that happen in this movie? (I know you prefer to be stationary in your game playing).
A: First of all, I defend the use of the word “oeuvre.” I know it’s fancy and Sandler is anything but fancy, but he’s a genre in and of himself now. You hear about an “Adam Sandler movie” coming out, and you know if it’s your jam. Same thing with any other influential director/producer/actor/writer. I know you’re cringing right now, but you also know I’m right. But also, you know what my favorite part about Grandma’s Boy is? The fact that Sandler himself makes zero appearances. This is coming from someone who adores certain Sandler appearances but would absolutely not pay money for anything he’s done recently. I admire a man for getting people to pay for an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii once a year for himself, his family and his troupe of buddies, but it’s definitely not my comedy preference.
Ok, that’s out of the way. You’re 100% right that I mostly wanted you to watch this movie so you would understand why we say “FUCKIN’ RAGE!!” all the time. Nick is my favorite character in this movie, and I totally ship a spin-off comedy starring him and his old-lady love, Grace. Linda Cardellini is also fantastic as the straight woman who also seemed to genuinely have a good time making this film. We can talk about the gross-out moments (that might correspond with your problems with this flick), but just know that I enjoy this movie despite the fact that there’s a rather dumb masturbation joke, not because of it. But, you know, Sandler. It’s expected.
It’s funny, I definitely don’t game like a lot of people I know, but I appreciate the skill involved. It’s part of why I like the story so much, getting to watch our male lead Alex dominate at this profession. It doesn’t stress me out that much, but that’s because I can sit stationary and watch it.
As for why this comedy actually makes my top 25, well, for that you’ll have to wait. I want to hear first what you thought of Alex and Sam as a romantic couple, and also please let’s discuss JP. Give me your thoughts, and I will reveal all in time.
B: You didn’t really think I was going to let the oeuvre defense pass without comment, did you? If you want to force me to be the cliched writer here, “oeuvre” refers to a body of work considered collectively. And I think we can both agree that the days of Sandler doing anything resembling hustle are loooooooooong gone. Your move. That said, my favorite part of this movie is also the fact that the Sandler is not present. My second favorite part of this movie is Nick asking, “Was he silent?” in response to his old-lady love’s revelation that she gave Charlie Chaplin a handy.
Now, you asked me what I think of Alex and Sam as a romantic couple and I also know you’re dying to know what I find problematic about this movie (mostly so you can congratulate yourself for knowing all the things before I say them). So, here we go. The Alex-Sam relationship is one of the things that made me bristle at least early on. And it has to do with the Sandler baggage. Sandler (and the heroes of non-Sandler-Sandler movies) has chronically played a schlubby, uninspiring guy who SOMEHOW gets an unbelievably beautiful and dynamic woman for years. And you know, it’s not the fact that the Average Joe gets the dream girl that bothers me. It’s that she is given no other options. It’s not presented as a relationship he’ll aspire to, it’s a relationship she’ll inevitably and often inexplicably slip into.
For the first three-quarters of this movie, that’s the trajectory we’re on. Sam is an absolute badass in a male-dominated world. She’s surrounded by drooling men who constantly question why she’s in the industry or jockey for position while she’s just trying to get shit done. Then there’s Alex, he’s good at his job, but he’s also living like a man-child. He is instantly convinced that she wants to fuck him. But he’s content to go on lying that he’s banging his three roommates, when really he’s kicking it with his grandma. Eventually, he redeems himself by proving he cares more for his grandma than his own pride, but he still seems to be mostly a romance of proximity or convenience for Sam. His grandma does so much more wooing than he does. I’m not nearly so unsettled by it here as I have been in more egregious Sandler entries, but it did take me the vast majority of the picture to come around to what we knew would happen long before Sam was introduced.
Like you, I found some of the gross-out humor to be a bit far outside my wheelhouse, but I didn’t find it objectional beyond the fact that it didn’t make me laugh. I did occasionally feel a bit uneasy about being asked to laugh at JP. The guy is a dick, but he’s clearly on the spectrum, so I feel conflicted about enjoying the moments when he gets his, so to speak. Does the fact that we’re shown how manipulative it is make it okay to laugh at his curious behavior before he does anything overtly villainous? I don’t know.
Alright. Your thoughts on the relationship and JP. And please elaborate on the ranking now.
A: Do we not collectively consider Sandler’s work here in RV? Does that not make it an official oeuvre? French is fun! Anyway, back to the love stuff. I don’t disagree that we’re dealing with the classic sitcom trope of a hot woman and slightly below average man. While I don’t find the guy (Allen Covert) who plays Alex to be as much of a mismatch for Sam than say, Kevin James (Sorry King of Queens, Leah Remini is WAY out of your league), he’s almost literally the only reasonable person for her to date in this film. Could they have just not had them date? Sure. But I think it adds a nice motivation for Alex to get his shit together, and like you say, treat his grandma and her friends well. I do argue that he does right by them from the beginning. He might be a man-child, but he does do a shitload of chores for the lady trio.
The thing that gets me to root for Sam and Alex despite the narrative issues is in fact Alex’s grandma. When she takes Sam through the baby book and talks about losing her husband, it might just be the most genuine moment in a Sandler joint ever. I don’t fault you for your harsher take, but that’s my defense of the storyline.
As for JP, yes, he’s clearly on the spectrum. This film was before it wasn’t ok to make fun of kids with autism. I do feel bad for JP throughout, as it’s hard not to sympathize at least a little with someone who is so painfully awkward and desperate to be noticed. Where I fault him (despite his issues) is his insistence on making people scared of him instead of trying to get along with his coworkers. Then there’s the whole intellectual property theft. If he’d been a nice dude up until then (even with his quirks), or had redeemed himself, sure, he could be someone you could feel bad for. But I don’t. And I contend that Alex actually doesn’t expect Sam to fall in bed with him, but JP does, and says it repeatedly. His creepiness aside, I do find it quite hilarious when he seemingly doesn’t realize that his black Matrix coat doesn’t really make him invisible. That’s just silly.
A lot of what makes this in my Top 25 has already been stated, but I will elaborate. I do genuinely find this whole thing really funny, but most of all, this was a film I had super low expectations of. I never thought I’d enjoy it whatsoever for all of the reasons you’ve mentioned about dick jokes and problematic tropes — but it’s genuinely a film with heart for me. And that’s why I like it so much.
Brooke, do your qualms keep you from enjoying Grandma’s Boy? Also, which of the three old ladies is your fave?
B: Fortunately, I’m well versed in visiting dated pictures that are laced with problematic landmines and I’ve found my way to make peace with them and enjoy things anyway. So, I still had fun with Grandma’s Boy. As you mention, there is some heart to be found layered in all of the boy humor. Although I enjoyed the titular Grandma’s love of video games, I definitely give my crown for favorite old lady to Grace. She’s full of sneaky one liners and she still proudly gets hers.
Who is your favorite of the olds? What else do I need to know about this movie? Wow me!
A: I’m quite glad I didn’t accidentally show you a horrible movie you hated, even though it’s perhaps more problematic than I had realized it would be. Whew. Obviously, Grace is the best and she is my favorite.
If you’re seeking IMDB trivia, I’m here for ya: Apparently the actor who played Dante procured his own weed for his scenes and smoked so much he had to go to the hospital at one point. I don’t think that’s a “wow” worthy bit of information since it’s so expected and probably happens on every Sandler movie set, but there you go!
Next time we’ll have a guest selection from our dear friend Daniel. We haven’t even watched it, but already it’s tearing us apart (Lisa).