That's My Boy

By Jared Young

Mailed on June 21, 2012

Stamp image Junk
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star

Dear Ronit Ravich-Boss
Script Supervisor

Dear Ronit,

I'm going to list some numbers for you. Tell me if they seem significant.

3, 14, 19, 10.

No, it's not a list of scene numbers for you to keep track of. Nor is it a secret code that has to be punched into an underground supercomputer to keep the world from exploding, or the cipher that reveals the true historical birthplace of Jesus Christ. These are, in chronological order, the Rotten Tomatoes scores for your last four films. I don't think either of us will be surprised when the critical consensus for That's My Boy continues the trend.

As script supervisor, I realize that you're responsible for the continuity, not creativity, of what happens onscreen. What you do is really for the benefit of the production schedule: you make sure that details aren't missed, that coverage is covered, that scenes make sense so that everyone can move on to shoot the next one. But you must also feel some small bit of pride about the finished product, the actual film, the palpable outcome of all those days on the set. After all, it's sent out to the world with your name on it.

In the case of That's My Boy, the finished product is the story of B-level celebrity Donny Berger (Sandler) trying to reunite with his long-lost son (a painfully restrained Andy Samberg). Along the way, we get to see: a twelve year-old boy having sex with a grown woman, an obese stripper's scarred and swollen breasts, a character shitting his pants, copious amounts of masturbation (in bed, in a back alley, in a strip-club locker), characters getting slimed with semen, a character unknowingly eating semen, an elderly woman having sex with Vanilla Ice, and a very important act of incest (the denouement hinges on it).

The raunch isn't the point. When it's done well, raunch is sublime (you know all about that from working on Superbad). But this is a film that gives up completely on being a film. It shrugs off its own narrative, betrays its own characters, mistimes its own jokes, and double-crosses anyone who dares suspend their belief. It gives up on the audience the same way, I worry, that you've given up caring about what films you work on.

Now, I don't mean for this letter to be censorious. What I wanted to talk to you about was your larger body of work. Before you fell into the putrid morass that is the post-millennium Adam Sandler oeuvre, you worked on Terry Zwigoff's brilliant Ghost World. When you went mainstream, you did it admirably: Girl Interrupted, Legally Blonde, the Austin Powers films (everyone forgets what a surprise the first one was). Even the early scripts that you guided through production - I'm talking American Ninja and Missing in Action III - held a sort of esteem among genre enthusiasts; it must have felt good, one some level, to sate their desires for roundhouse kicks and exploding machine-gun towers, to make sense of it all.

Maybe you need a little break from the Happy Madison crew. Maybe seek out a smaller film to work on. Or a younger, greener filmmaker to work with. Something - anything - that might allow you to put to better use the considerable on-set experience you've acquired. Wouldn't it be nice to impel, with your supervision, a film that aims for something higher than a shot to the groin?

But, hey, in this economy you have to take what you can get, right? And I have respect for what you do. Keeping track of all that semen surely wasn't easy.



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