I Finally Watched: 'Grandma's Boy'
The movie I finally watched last week, my last as a DirecTV customer, was a stoner comedy that seems to double as a 94-minute commercial: Grandma’s Boy.
When Alex (Allen Covert), a weed-loving video game tester, is evicted from his apartment, his grandmother Lilly (Doris Roberts) and her two roommates welcome him into their home. He gets them illegal cable and stoned, and they come to his rescue when a game he is developing is stolen.
Grandma’s Boy is a movie many of my friends saw in the theater (probably in the appropriate altered state of mind, if you catch my drift) and referenced a lot for a time. I missed it, though. It’s a strange but funny movie that gets the job done. Though it’s not on par with Super Troopers or Half Baked, it delivers the absurd hilarity I expect from the genre. It’s a funny, outrageous stoner film, a juvenile good time.
Produced by the Happy Madison Production Company, Grandma’s Boy is another vehicle for Adam Sandler and his friends. Not only does it include Covert, a Sandler-movie regular, it features many other familiar faces from Happy Madison movies like Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson, Jonathan Logan, Kevin Nealon, David Spade, and Peter Dante. Though critics apparently loath the Happy Madison crew, I think they make enjoyable movies. Their films might win Razzies instead of Oscars, but they are funny and entertaining. Plus, I’m a fan of any movie that doubles as a reunion for early nineties SNL cast members. The movie also stars Jonah Hill and Shirley Jones. I thought Samantha is played by Alona Tal, who is Jo Harvelle on Supernatural, but it’s Linda Cardellini.
The story is not necessarily aimless, but it feels like a very long setup for the main conflict, which emerges in the last 10 or 15 minutes. The movie builds and develops the characters and dilemma slowly, organically, which I like.
Grandma’s Boy is overflowing with nerd libido—and sneakers. Almost every female character is objectified. I’m unsure if it’s on purpose for realism since the video game industry is infamous for sexism and objectifying women (which is unlikely) or if it has more to do with the conventions of the genre. There is not much estrogen in stoner movies except token (and tokin’) girlfriends and sexual partners. Though Samantha is a vital member of the testing team, she is mostly a sex object for the male characters. Besides a few minor characters at a party, including a well-endowed stripper who essentially breast feeds Jonah Hill, Samantha is the only female character besides Lilly and her roommates. She does assert herself in the male-dominated industry, breaking stereotypes, but I’m unsure if she’s characterized as independent or a gamer’s wet dream.
Speaking of sneakers (everybody wears them), there is an inordinate amount of product placement in Grandma’s Boy. Burton, DC, EA, Pepsi products, and Xbox are all prominently placed. Steel Reserve, Guinness, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Red Stripe are present and consumed in the movie. (Both Guinness Draught and Guinness Extra Stout are featured, if I remember correctly, which is noteworthy because Extra Stout is usually overlooked.) The amount of blatant product placement in this movie is shameless—but the movie didn’t pay for itself. (I had forgotten all about Red Stripe. The Jamaican beer was very popular when I was in college in the mid-ohs, mostly because of the iconic “Hooray beer!” advertising campaign, but I had not thought about it in years. It’s still around, so I need to revisit it.)
The games and consoles in the movie are very outdated now, which may be the funniest thing about Grandma’s Boy. The games look almost primitive. Grandma’s Boy was released in January 2006, predating the PlayStation 3 and Wii. The Xbox 360 was released two months before the movie, but I can’t tell if Alex and company are using the 360 or its predecessor, which was introduced in the U.S. in November 2001, according to Wikipedia (I’m a PlayStation guy). Regardless, the games don’t look good period. I don’t know what it is but my Super Nintendo games look better. (It could also be because the only video games I’ve played a lot since 2004 have been various versions of NCAA Football and Grand Theft Auto. My video game collection is pathetic. Case in point, my latest console is a PS3.)
On to the miscellany:
• Kevin Nealon’s character is shown stretching his piriformis.
• If I remember correctly, Alex asks his grandma to TiVo Samurai Jack. I love Samurai Jack.
• When the testing crew leaves the new age vegan restaurant (but not before bashing it, of course), they go to a Tommy Burger, a fast-food chain in SoCal. (The official name of the franchise is Original Tommy’s.) It’s not as iconic as In-N-Out Burger, but it’s synonymous with SoCal. There is a location in Fountain Valley, next to Huntington Beach, but I never ate there.
• The movie is set in LA, but Dante has a basement. Basements are very rare in SoCal.