Shakes the Clown (1991)

Shakes the ClownReleased: March 13, 1992. Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait. Starring: Bobcat Goldthwait, Julie Brown, Blake Clark. Runtime: 87 min. 

Dark comedies are a difficult kind-of comedy to master. The Coen brothers have mastered the craft, as has Tarantino, and many other respected filmmakers. This is the attempt at a black comedy by an apparently funny guy named Bobcat Goldthwait, and I haven’t seen a movie prior to this that feels more like an Amateur Redneck Hour. You’ll also see no evidence of good comedy here.

The movie follows Shakes the Clown (Goldthwait) who lives in a town called Palukaville, where it seems that everyone is either a clown, a groupie for the clowns, or someone who gets jobs for the clowns. And there’s cops and mimes, too. Anyway, Shakes is a clown who is also a chronic alcoholic. He is threatened with unemployment if he cannot get his act together. Then, it gets really dark and someone frames Shakes for a murder.

There are many ideas to advance this plot, but the film-makers do not feel as if they run with those ideas. However, the unlikable characters make it very hard for the movie to be engaging. Shakes is a terrible person, but I guess that’s the point. Kathy Griffin and Julie Brown are the two main girls in this, and Brown has a terribly annoying voice.

Adam Sandler is one of the supporting characters. He doesn’t get many laughs. His character is afraid of women. There are many jokes related to bodily functions here, that show up within the first two minutes; but in Sandler’s own movies, he has the courtesy to wait more than two minutes to throw those at the audience.

This movie is like a pie in the face: unpleasant. It reminds me why I hate clowns. The clown world they live in is different, and I guess that’s the point of the movie; to be a different experience. But I’d also like it to be enjoyable. It gives viewers an insane portrait of Tom Kenny, the man who voices SpongeBob Squarepants.

I did chuckle about four times, but that’s not enough. You’ll have to decide whether or not you hate mimes or clowns more. Most are drunks, either way. This movie does get some points for an appearance from Robin Williams, and a lot of mimes get beaten up. Woo-hoo. It’s still a bland, stupid movie.

Score38/100

That’s My Boy (2012)

That's My BoyThat’s My Boy

Release Date: June 15, 2012

Director: Sean Anders

Stars: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester

Runtime: 116 min

Tagline: The story of a child… and his son.

Sandler should be put in jail for theft, for the theft of my time, that is!
While in his teens, Donny (Adam Sandler) fathered a son, Todd, a.k.a. Han Solo (Andy Samberg), and raised him up until Todd’s 18th birthday. Donny’s irresponsibility is transferred to his adult life, where he is ignorant enough not to pay his taxes for a few years. He must come up with $43, 000 within a week’s notice, or else he’ll have to face jail time. He then finds this TV host who says he’d pay Donny that sum of money if he could get his son and the the former teacher that “molested” him to do a reunion show.

That’s where it all begins. Donny must find his son and try to convince him to do the show, but he then tries to desperately reconnect with his son in some way. He shows up in his son’s life inappropriately right before his wedding, right when all the in-laws and friends are down. Everyone thinks Todd’s parents died in a car accident, and they think Donny is only Todd’s best friend.

Oh yeah, it’s the old generic tale: Find the son. Try to bond, but the son’s reluctant. He feels the father never cared for him. The father shows him he cares in some way. They’re all content with being each other’s lives. Something happens. Then in the end, you’re taught that family is the most important thing. You get the picture, yada-yada. Leave it to Adam Sandler to use one of the most generic comedy formulas in the book.

You may be asking yourselves – why would I voluntarily put myself through this?

Do I like self-inducing pain onto myself? Not particularly. Was I sort of curious as to how bad, or how good this might turn out to be? Moderately. Most of all, I wanted my brain to take a vacation with a simple-minded comedy. Usually, when I want to watch a generic and predictable comedy, I like my brain to just turn off practically completely. But you know, not to a point where I’m dead. It helps me relax. But, with this one, my brain couldn’t turn off. Yes, it was simple and mindless – but it was also obnoxious and pointless. I just kept thinking; this is so bad. When is it going to end?

Think of my brain vacation like this: I like my brain to take a vacation to an exotic place like Hawaii or something. A place that can offer me plenty of laughs, some fun, sexy girls, and one that could offer me entertainment throughout. Instead, my brain sort of went to a town in Eastern Europe that no one likes. A place that is dirty, pointless, nightmarish, a place that no one would want to go to,  and a place you just want to get out of; there are a few sexy women in here, though, so regarding that – it’s Eastern Europe with sexy women.

Adam Sandler tries to return to his roots here by bringing back that child in a man’s body character. He tries to mix it with the modern crude and rude comedy of today, and it doesn’t really work. Unlike the great characters of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, Donny is obnoxious – but in an unfunny way. The jokes are tasteless and I might have laughed once or twice in a near-two hour feature. The plot is just ridiculous, and when a plot line of incest gets brought into the picture, I draw the imaginary line in the sand.

The characters are poor. Especially the character of Donny and Todd. They both try to be funny, but they’re both not. Also, Leighton Meester hasn’t yet started to dish out any likeable characters (with the exception of her character in Country Strong). Everyone else isn’t notable. The cast is only okay, but you won’t get Oscar performances from an Adam Sandler comedy. However, apparently there will be Oscar nominees and Oscar winners in here. How on earth did Sandler convince one-time Oscar nominee James Caan and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon to be in this?

It’s nice to see that Sandler tried to make his own project, here. He didn’t involve many of his buddies – there was only Nick Swardson, Blake Clark and Will Forte. Also, the director, Sean Anders (Sex Drivehasn’t worked with Sandler before this feature. I doubt he’ll want to work for him again, though.
That’s My Boy tried to be funny, but it’s really one of the stupidest movies I’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting through. There is a few laughs to be had, but that’s about it. The laughs that come are one from Sandler and one from the cross-eyed caveman looking Swardson. I should really put “I finished That’s My Boy” on my resumé, I’m pretty sure I’d get hired anywhere. It shows real patience, because I just kept waiting for it to get good. Guess what? It never came. This is an improvement on last year’s Jack and Jill or Bucky Larson (but that isn’t really an impressive feat, everything’s a step up from those) but it’s worse than Grown Ups (laugh-wise, this one at least had a plot line – no matter how pointless). This is just yet another film that says Sandler’s career is in a hole, and I really hopes he finds that shovel, to dig him out of it, sometime soon.

Consider yourselves warned. 

20/100

Unpolished Review: 50 First Dates

50 First Dates

Release Date: February 13, 2004

Director: Peter Segal

Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider

Runtime: 99 min

Tagline: Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams… every friggin’ day.

[Note: I wrote this review early on when I wasn’t writing a whole lot for reviews, so I’m calling those an unpolished review, which I’d like to rewrite in the future, I’ll explain it more when I make a category for it. I’m too drained to make a page right now]

It’s actually a pretty good romantic comedy, as far as the standards of Sandler films go (plot-wise).

Adam Sandler plays a ladies’ man named Henry Roth, and wants to change his ways after meeting the wonderful Lucy. What he finds out the next day is that Lucy was in a terrible car accident, which gave her short-term memory loss, where her memories of the day get wiped clean when she wakes up the next morning. Now, Henry must make her fall in love with him every day, if he wants her to stay in his life.

It’s usually very cute, funny and sweet. It isn’t a horrible plot at all, and has some great on-screen chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.

It also stars Sean Astin, Blake Clark and Rob Schneider.

If you’re a fan of Adam Sandler or romantic comedies, check it out. It isn’t bad at all, and is really worth one or more watches.

 75/100