Adam Sandler has a lot to answer for beyond Little Nicky, Anger Management, and Eight Crazy Nights. Among other crimes, Sandler's Happy Madison production company is responsible for a deadening series of Rob Schneider and David Spade vehicles. Though woefully inadequate as leading men, Spade and Schneider at least have undistinguished stints on Saturday Night Live on their résumés, and some level of name recognition among the general public. That's far more than can be said about Allen Covert, the writer and star of Grandma's Boy and a longtime fixture of Sandler's movies as an actor, producer, and writer. Like Billy Madison, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and the forthcoming The Benchwarmers, Grandma's Boy explores Happy Madison's pet theme of suspended adolescence. Playing the latest in the production company's long line of happily regressive man-children, the wildly non-charismatic Covert stars as a 35-year-old video-game tester who moves back in with his grandmother (TV's Doris Roberts) and her two roommates after getting evicted by landlord Rob Schneider. Hilarity fails to ensue in the workplace or at home, in spite of the late introduction of a fighting, driving monkey.
Grandma's Boy aspires to nothing more than the frathouse goofiness and juvenile high spirits of early Sandler vehicles, but it possesses the energy of a funeral dirge played at half-speed. An early scene in which Covert visits the bedroom of similarly stunted buddy (and fellow co-writer) Nick Swardson is more Todd Solondz than Billy Madison, while Covert's bonding with his stoner buddies suggests The 40-Year-Old Virgin minus everything that made that movie special. If nothing else, Grandma's Boy answers the question of what a ramshackle early Adam Sandler movie would be like without Adam Sandler. It's as if an understandably bored Sandler blew off work, and his crew decided to restart his latest film with his anonymous stand-in taking over the lead role. What's next, a dual vehicle for Sandler's doorman and his second cousin?