January 12, 2006

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FILM: Grandma's Boy (R)

by Amy Diaz

Adam Sandler hanger-on Allen Covert plays a giant pot-smoking man-toddler in the sitcom premise Grandma’s Boy.

You get the sense that somebody originally pitched this idea — Golden Girls meets Beavis and Butthead — as a filler sitcom holding the space between Reba and Life with Fran. Have been deemed too lame for Friday night television, the concept was turned into something that could be filled out with Sandler’s old Saturday Night Live buddies and chucked into the theaters on a low-pressure weekend. Its fart jokes, occasional boobies and near-pornographic treatment of video games and pot would be just the kind of thing its intended audience of 15-year-old to 23-year-old boys would smack down $9 for (not to mention the inevitable munchy-satiating expenditures on Twizzlers and nachos).

Alex (Covert) would be a key member of this demographic, in spirit if not in age (the character is 35; the actor is 42 and looks it). A video game tester and ardent pothead, Alex lives every boy’s post-high school dream in a house decorated with bongs and shared with an equally slothful roommate. Even more slothful, actually. The roommate spent the rent money on whores instead of rent and Alex finds himself suddenly homeless. After finding the homes of friends too difficult to navigate, he decides to room with his grandmother Lilly (Doris Roberts), who turns a blind eye to his slacker ways and becomes quite a fan of the video game Alex constructs in his spare time.

Lilly even helps Alex win the heart of Samantha (Linda Cardellini), the executive brought in to speed production of a video game. Samantha drops her business exterior at an impromptu party Lilly and her silver-haired roommates (Shirley Jones, Shirley Knight) throw after finding and making tea out of some herbs they find in Alex’s bedroom.

Like a 60-year-old Tevye in a junior high production of Fiddler on the Roof, Covert sticks out like a neon sign (advertising Mountain Dew, perhaps) in Grandma’s Boy. He doesn’t look like Doris Roberts’ grandson, he looks like a child she had as a very young girl. He seems too old not only for his job (which is one of the movie’s central jokes) but for the girl he chases, his couch-potato wardrobe and his marijuana- permeated slang.

But, hey, that’s me and I’m a girl, part of the 50 percent of the population for whom this film clearly wasn’t intended. Though hardly worth a look for those outside the hand-crafted audience, Grandma’s Boy is sufficiently goofy, obvious and inoffensive enough to keep the baked happily entertained and safely in their buzz.

D