Grandma's Boy (United States, 2006)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

For those who think reviewing films is easy and fun, I offer Grandma's Boy as my rebuttal. That's 96 minutes (plus travel time) and $6.00 (matinee price) that I'll never get back, no matter what I write here. Legal theft. This is one of those movies where you stay rooted in your seat just to see how bad it can really get. And every time you think it has hit the bottom, the filmmakers find a passage taking them lower. Grandma's Boy is the kind of production that demands comparison to Freddy Got Fingered when it comes to bad taste and bad entertainment. (Although, to be fair, Freddy remains king.)

Consistently unfunny and consistently offensive, Grandma's Boy makes a person wonder what the money men saw in the finished product to earn it a theatrical distribution (20th Century Fox hid it from critics, not offering press screenings). Something like this should have been shelved or, better yet, buried. There are plenty of toxic waste dumps around this country where prints of Grandma's Boy would be at home. It's only one week into 2006 and I can say with confidence that I have seen one of the year's worst movies. If luck is with me, I won't have to sit through something this torturous in a long time.

Alex (Allen Covert, looking eerily like - believe it or not - Mel Gibson) is a 36-year old pot-smoking video game tester who is evicted from his apartment for failure to pay his rent. It turns out that his no-good roommate took Allen's rent money and spent it on Filipina hookers. At first, Alex tries to crash at the infernal house of his drug dealing friend, Dante (Peter Dante), but that doesn't work out. Next is Jeff (Nick Swardson), but an embarrassing late-night incident ends that arrangement. In desperation, Alex moves in with his grandmother, Lilly (Doris Roberts), and her two elderly roommates, the oversexed Grace (Shirley Jones) and the overmedicated Bea (Shirley Knight). At work, where Alex is debugging the latest hot game title from wunderkind designer J.P. (Joel David Moore), there's a new project manager to contend with. Her name is Samantha (Linda Cardellini) and she's there to keep things on schedule. And, of course, something develops between Alex and her.

The filmmakers do two things right. Linda Cardellini is cute enough to take some of the sting out of watching the movie. (She doesn't get much chance to show her acting ability, but there's ample evidence elsewhere that she has talent. Here, she's just a pretty face.) And the video games look like real video games. Everything else in the film is wrong, wrong, wrong. Take the worst skit in the history of Saturday Night Live and expand it to 15 times its expected running length, and you're left with Grandma's Boy. While few of the people involved in the making have a direct connection with SNL, they almost all come out of Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company, and this is among the worst things to crawl out from under that rock. You know you're in trouble when Rob Schneider makes his obligatory cameo, and things don't improve when David Spade shows up for about a minute (and he says something other than "no").

Not only are none of the jokes in Grandma's Boy funny, but it's sometimes bad how far they miss the mark. Are we supposed to laugh when a surprised woman enters a bathroom to be sprayed by the product of Alex's Lara Croft-fueled masturbation session? Is it supposed to be funny to watch the elderly Mrs. Partridge French-kissing a stoner who sucks his thumb at night? What about the fat geek who nuzzles the nipple on a surgically enhanced breast for 13 hours? Or the uber-nerd who acts like a robot when he gets nervous? These things don't sound amusing on paper, and they come across worse on celluloid.

At one point, everyone might have loved Raymond, but I'm not sure his TV parents are too thrilled with him now. In the wake of the show's end, Peter Boyle has started doing Alka-Seltzer commercials and Doris Roberts has been forced into this movie. Roberts spends most of the film looking dazed and confused. Maybe she didn't read the script ahead of time. That would be one explanation for why her face often has a sour expression not unlike that worn by Boyle in the antacid ads. Comparing their respective post-Everybody Loves Raymond projects, he got the better one.

This is Nicholaus Goossen's directorial debut. The evidence at hand would indicate he's not going to have a long and profitable career behind the camera but, in the event that he does, this is a title he will likely expunge from his resume. It probably won't be difficult, since it's unlikely than many unfortunate souls will be suckered into paying money for this atrocity. As much as the film sneers at its characters, so viewers will sneer at it. And sneering is one of the milder forms of hostility deserved by Grandma's Boy. Other, more appropriate expressions of anger are likely illegal, although, considering the theft of time and money committed by the filmmakers, not necessarily immoral.

Grandma's Boy (United States, 2006)

Run Time: 1:36
U.S. Release Date: 2006-01-06
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Drugs, Sexual Situations, Nudity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1