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Grandma’s Boy (A Movie Review)

Grandma's Boy

Grandma’s Boy


Starring Allen Covert, Linda Cardellini, Doris Roberts, Shirley Jones, Shirley Knight, Peter Dante, Joel David Moore, Kevin Nealon, Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill, Kelvin Yu, Chuck Church, Scott Halberstadt, Heidi Hawking, Shana Hyatt, David Spade and Rob Schneider.

Screenplay by Barry Wernick, Allen Covert and Nick Swardson.

Directed by Nicholaus Goossen.

Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.  96 minutes.  Rated R.

The problem with people that are stoned (well, other than the fact that they eat all your food) is that they will laugh at just about anything.

Hey, dude, a monkey driving a car…  Cool!  Hey, how about a supporting character in full bushmen’s makeup and gear.  And we can make him curse!  That rocks.  The owner of a video game company who is a new age vegan?  Ha Ha.  A guy so nerdy that he occasionally pretends to be a robot?  Dude!  An old lady having sex with a virginal dork.  That kills.  Masturbating to a Lara Croft doll?  No, that’s probably not funny even if you’re wasted.

This film is written by and stars long-time Adam Sandler collaborator Allen Covert as Alex, a professional video game tester who is almost always high.  I don’t know how autobiographical the character is, but some of the scenes, like those mentioned above, have a definite stoner mentality.  Which is too bad, because Allen Covert’s Grandma’s Boy is a pretty funny idea and it has some terrific moments, but it also has too many sections that just sort of lay there, tired and dazed on the couch, contemplating their fingers and enduring a major case of the munchies.

The plot of the movie, or what little plot there is, has Alex’s roommate blowing their rent money on hookers.  When attempts to crash at friends’ places fail humiliatingly, Alex has to move in with his Grandma (Doris Roberts of Everybody Loves Raymond) and her two roommates, the sexually aggressive Grace (Shirley Jones — yes, Mrs. Partridge!) and the oddly muddled — in fact she seems borderline demented — Bea (Tony Award winning thespian Shirley Knight).

In the meantime, Alex’s work life is crazy.  A new game by an eccentric prodigy programmer (Joel David Moore) has to be tested to get ready for launch.  The game company sends a beautiful executive named Samantha (Linda Cardellini of ER and Freaks and Geeks) to oversee the final stages.  There is an immediate attraction between the exec and her slacker tester, but the offbeat programmer also has eyes for her.

Just like the older actresses, Cardellini is probably a little too good an actress to be in this role, but she throws herself into it with such gusto that she can’t help but light up all the scenes she is in.  A section where she drunkenly does a karaoke version of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” is one of the high points of the film, just because it has attitude to burn in a film where most of the people are either laid-back (cannabis buzzed) or testosterone spewing (the game competitions and the guy fights).

Alex tells all of his virginal buddies at work that he is living with three girls who are sexing him night and day, but he is really exhausted because his grandma give him a bunch of chores.  In return, he turns them onto cable television, Antiques Roadshow and video games.  Then when the three find his stash and assume it’s tea… well, you get the idea.

This leads to some party blowout scenes, lots of alcohol, a little gratuitous nudity, lots of doper humor, a few unfunny cameos from producer Sandler’s former Saturday Night Live buddies Kevin Nealon, David Spade and Rob Schneider and some wonderful, fun-filled work from the old pros.  Roberts doesn’t do anything all that different than what she’s done before, but she’s still good at it.  Jones is rather shocking at first in the frankness of the character, but by the time she’s telling sex stories of Charlie Chaplin and Don Knotts in order to seduce a tester you can’t help but laugh at the chances she takes.  Shirley Knight’s karaoke performance of Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” is also surprisingly funny — two funny karaoke performances in one film, I wouldn’t have thought that would be possible.

However, plot isn’t that important in Grandma’s Boy.  Instead the movie has a tendency to go more for lots of laid-back character moments, led by the slacker charm of its star.  Covert does have the ability to carry a movie — though frankly he needs a stronger script than he and his collaborators have provided.

The movie has some laugh-out-loud moments, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that Grandma’s Boy would undoubtedly be a lot funnier if you, too, were stoned.  Hey man, don’t bogart the punch lines.  (1/06)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2006  All rights reserved.  Posted: January 7, 2006.

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