I’m either angry at or grateful to Adam Sandler. As soon as the trailer hit, my 11-year-old has been begging me to see That’s My Boy. Of course she wants to see Sandler’s Father’s Day film; the Bedtime Stories star is an 8-time Kids Choice Awards winner – kids LOVE him. Sandler has successfully embedded his immature, overgrown child brand into the tween movie landscape. Here’s the problem: That’s My Boy is rated R.
I’m frustrated that Sandler has put me in the position of being the bad guy, having to tell my daughter she can’t go see her favorite movie actor’s film that tonally looks no different than Sandler’s Jack and Jill. On the other hand, I do appreciate Sandler made sure That’s My Boy (accurately marketed as "so wrong") got an R rating instead of toning it down just enough to get a PG-13, like his sexually explicit You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. With an R, I’m armed with the proper information to know That’s My Boy is absolutely, positively NOT for kids.
Parents pull their hair out when comedians first earn our trust with kid-friendly movies, but then trick us into taking our tweens to their inappropriate PG-13 films. How many parents brought kids to see Little Fockers, The Love Guru or Norbit … all films that followed Ben Stiller, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy’s substantial family film careers?
I get it--actors are entitled to do whatever projects they want, but let’s be honest. The bread and butter for Sandler, Stiller and the rest isn’t in being a versatile actor, it’s being a comic with a point of view that carries over from film to film. The result is that these comedians' mature-content films may not be directly advertised to kids, but the sheer presence of a kid-branded celebrity like Sandler is, in essence, marketing to the tween fanbase they've cultivated. At least with That’s My Boy, you’ve been forewarned.
Here are three movies you can bring the kids to see this week:
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. The Bronx Zoo crew tries to return home by joining a traveling circus in the animated threequel which succeeds in delivering over the (big) top humor, action and 3D, just the way kids like it.
Men in Black III: Agent J must travel back to 1969 to once again save Earth from a rogue alien. Moviegoers can expect the same kind of fun, visually surprising entertainment as the first two films. Also consistent: extraterrestrials that are more bizarre and grotesque than scary. What’s new: Agent J’s foul mouth.
The Avengers. It turns out if six superheroes are put into one movie, it does make for a super movie. The action-hero violence is comic book and the “bad” language is pretty tame, which though PG-13, makes it fine for most elementary-school age kids.
To read what kids think about these movies, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.