Grandma's Boy (2006)

Grandma's Boy is one of those stoner comedies in which basically everything works out for the hero of the story. That's not a spoiler, especially as it offers no context, but a sigh of exasperation toward a screenplay that never offers a deviation from what is an obvious trajectory, right from the beginning. Well, perhaps not right from the beginning, which offers some genuine bafflement and not a lot else. Our hero's marijuana paraphernalia is knocked off his coffee table moments before his landlord throws him out of his place of residence. In the second scene, he pleasures himself to the image of his friend's Barbie doll, "finishing" on the friend's mom when she walks in unexpectedly.

Yes, this is that kind of comedy, in which the man-boys at its center are played by actors who mug for the camera. Take Rob Schneider, who cameos as the landlord, a foreigner named Yuri to whom the actor affords an odd accent that seems somewhere between Serbian and Israeli. A lot of tertiary characters here are mocked for their accents or for their heritage, such as another scene in which David Spade cameos as a flamboyantly gay waiter at a luxury restaurant or when our hero's three roommates cackle at the Spanish-speaking mariachi band on TV or when one character requests something of another in Chinese.

That last one might not seem like it has a punch line, but that's because the request, spoken in Chinese, is the punch line. That's the kind of comedy we are dealing with, at least when it isn't giving us the scene of personal gratification. It's essentially our introduction both to the hero of the piece, Alex (Allen Covert, looking so much like mid-1990s Mel Gibson it's distracting), and to his man-child best friend Jeff (Nick Swardson), who lives with his mom and seems to be in a perpetual state of childhood. We are not sure whether screenwriters Covert, Swardson, and Barry Wernick are thus commenting, in a roundabout way, on these characters' occupations, but they probably aren't doing such a thing in a stoner comedy.

That's because Alex and Jeff work as designers of a video game. Alex, who eventually moves in with his Grandma Lilly (Doris Roberts) and her friends Grace (Shirley Jones) and Bea (Shirley Knight), has been designing his own game, Demonik, for some years, juggling that with an ongoing project for his new boss Samantha (Linda Cardellini) and her boss Mr. Cheezle (Kevin Nealon - and yes, that's the character's name), whose client J.P. (Joel David Moore) is hailed as a genius. His new game, Eternal Death Slayer 3, is going to be the next big thing on the market.

Alex himself is kind of a bland protagonist, well-meaning but prone to the embarrassments of those around him. As such, Covert is fine, as is Cardellini, though Samantha exists to react to everything else. Roberts and Jones have some fun as two of the elderly women, but the screenwriters and director Nicholaus Goossen usually just insert them into awkwardly sex- or drug-related circumstances. Moore is limited by an annoying character quirk that causes him to speak with himself as a robot. The conflict, involving Alex' ownership of his own game, is entirely backloaded, meaning that Grandma's Boy finds its point too late and to too-little effect.

Film Information

Allen Covert (Alex), Nick Swardson (Jeff), Linda Cardellini (Samantha), Joel David Moore (J.P.), Doris Roberts (Lilly), Shirley Jones (Grace), Shirley Knight (Bea).

Directed by Nicholaus Goossen and written by Barry Wernick, Allen Covert, and Nick Swardson.

Rated R (drug use/language throughout, crude/sexual humor, nudity).

94 minutes.

Released on January 6, 2006.

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