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Underrated fun

By Lady Liberty
web posted January 9, 2006

Grandma's Boy

** out of ****

Grandma's BoyYou're probably thinking that I couldn't possibly have had anything else to see if I ended up buying a ticket for Grandma's Boy. And you'd be right. To see anything else would have meant an hour's drive on a cold and potentially icy Friday night, and I was frankly in no mood. I ended up seeing Grandma's Boy entirely by default. And you know what? I came out of the theatre with a smile on my face and no regrets.

Grandma's Boy is Alex (Allen Covert), a man in his mid-30's who is apparently holding on to his youth by getting stoned on a constant basis and by holding down a job as a video game tester. Through no fault of his own, he finds himself suddenly homeless. With his beat-up car filled with garbage bags containing his worldly possessions, he ends up on the doorstep of Jeff (Nick Swardson), a friend and co-worker who still lives with his parents (who he insists on referring to as his "roommates").

Unfortunately, Alex's night at Jeff's house doesn't go particularly well, and he ends up on the street yet again. With literally nowhere else to go, he reluctantly accepts his Grandma Lily's (Doris Roberts) offer to live with her and her elderly roommates (Grace and Bea, played by Shirley Jones and Shirley Knight, respectively). Of course, he's not willing to admit his new living arrangements to the hoard of young men with whom he works. Instead, he claims to have moved in with three women who just won't leave him alone. While he's actually referring to the chores he's saddled with, is it his fault his buddies think he means he's exhausted from having constant sex with all of his female roommates?

Alex, meanwhile, is enamored with Samantha (Linda Cardellini), a woman the boss brings in to ensure the company's newest video game is released on time. Mr. Cheezle (Kevin Nealon) needs the help; he's too busy with new age mysticism and super healthy foods to do much supervising himself. As the only woman in the office, it's no real surprise that the pretty Samantha also becomes the object of desire of JP (Joel Moore), the young prodigy — and uber geek — who has invented the video game everybody is pushing toward release.

Between trying to hide the truth about the women he lives with, partying with his drug dealer (the irrepressible Dante, played by Peter Dante), trying to create his own video game, flirting with Samantha, and attempting to keep up with his on-the-job commitments, Alex is one busy guy! It goes without saying that he can't keep up the facade indefinitely, and that when he's found out, his life will likely get even crazier...

The actors in Grandma's Boy seem to be well cast, and their performances are largely okay (Shirley Jones seems to be getting a special kick out of being able to cut loose and be silly on screen, and her sex scene is more than a little amusing). The premise as a whole is ridiculous, and so is the script. But Grandma's Boy isn't intended to be anything but a ham-handed comedy, and it largely succeeds in its mission.

With the lack of publicity and the perception that Grandma's Boy was probably a fairly lame imitation of similar films that have gone before (There's Something About Mary and The 40 Year-Old Virgin come immediately to mind), I didn't expect too many people to be in the theatre. I was more than a little surprised to find the venue more than half full. Even more surprising to me was that the audience — including me — actually had a good time seeing the film. There were frequent snickers, plenty of outright laughter, and lots of smiles and chatting about the movie on the way out the front door. (Without spoiling the movie for you, let me just say that the masturbation scene from There's Something About Mary now has competition...)

Grandma's Boy is underpublicized, and will likely prove underrated as well. But those who do make it to the theatre will — provided they're fans of rude, crude, and slapstick humor — will almost certainly be glad they bought a ticket. I'm a little taken aback to admit it, but Grandma's Boy isn't bad.

POLITICAL NOTES: The matter of fact drug use in the film is obviously there and exaggerated for laughs (and I'll tell you now that it works). But the depiction is so casual, and in many ways so relatable, that it's also a very real statement on the virtually complete lack of success enjoyed by the federal government's earnest and ubiquitous "war on drugs." I can't imagine other "crimes" getting consistent laughs, and I think that also says something relatively important where the public's views are concerned. I have long been convinced that it's time to end Richard Nixon's legacy and step back for a more realistic and less judgmental look at marijuana use. While movies like this won't be taken seriously by the powers that be (and they shouldn't be), the perceptions offered even in the guise of humor can't hurt the cause in general.

FAMILY SUITABILITY: Grandma's Boy is rated R for "drug use and language throughout, strong crude and sexual humor, and nudity." While the R rating is warranted, I believe that this movie's most appreciative audience will be composed of teenaged boys from about 15 and up. The humor and the subject matter are perfect for that age group, and I frankly don't see a problem with a 15 year-old seeing the movie (they're not going to hear or see anything they haven't heard or seen before). If you're the parent who has to accompany said teen, the good news is that I strongly suspect you're going to have a good time, too, even if you won't admit it out loud afterward.

Lady Liberty is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at ladylibrty@ladylibrty.com.

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