Mean headline, but after “Joe Dirt,” it’s no less than aged snarkling David Spade deserves.
Netflix’s ongoing “Saving Cinemas from Adam Sandler & Friends” project puts Spade in another “Joe Dirt” variation, as a bad dad in Deerfield, New Hampshire.
“Father of the Year” Wayne O’Malley is the Town Character (pronounced “cayeh-ac-TUH”) in a town of town characters, a drunk 40something who lives in a debris field of a trailer park, never shaves or cuts his hair, never has a job, “because of my disability.”
“Being color blind is not a disability,” his college graduate son (Joey Bragg of TV’s “Wet Hot American Summer”) Ben complains.
“I told a black joke to a black guy. It’s a disability.”
He’s Joe Dirt with a New England twang. Of course he’s named Wayne.
Ben’s home from school, ready to start a new life with a green energy company in New York. One last summer in New Hampshire can’t hurt.
But as we hang with his empty gene pool collection of high school buds, his reprobate Dad whose cleverest idea is making a pool out of a pickup truck bed (not his truck), where the Chinese restaurant changes its front door health code grade from C to D as you walk in, Ben starts to wonder. As do we.
We let these numbnuts decide who gets to run for president?
Ben and his bud Larry (Matt Shively) hit the local bar and commence to A) fail to impress that onetime high school hottie Meredith (Bridgit Mendler) and B) bicker about whose dad is tougher.
“Your dad looks like a big fifth grader.”
“YOUR dad gets startled by pop-up books!”
As Larry ‘s pop (Nat Faxon, almost funny) is a wimpy, smart provider, running his own test lab for Big Pharma, we think we know how that fight might go. The sons? Not so sure.
But Wayne? Realizing he’s an embarrassment to his kid and no longer his role model, and after a drunken night where he gets his son arrested and costs him his upcoming New York gig, Wayne is ALL about this “fight” — drunk dialing trash talk to poor Mardy (Faxon), who has enough grief, married to a harpy of a second wife with a teeny tween bullying terror of a step-son.
Dad can ask “Got any tuna on the hook?” of the son he’s nicknamed the “class clita-dic-torian,” but Ben has about as much chance with the fair Meredith as he does of finishing that pool he basically has to build for a little old lady whose patio he and dad trashed, which got them tossed in jail.
Old fashioned summer fun like skinny dipping, crashing the prom (Isn’t school out for the summer?) years after graduating, and sampling the local drug smorgasbord (Molly jokes are a regular fixture of Made for Netflix comedies) ensue.
Laughs? Hard to come by, rather like Spade’s take on the accent. A guys-piled-into-a-photo-booth gag, Postmates jokes, Dad put-downs based on driving a Miata — “Well, the body style in a Miata is not the MOST masculine. VERY unisex” don’t pay off.
One bit that would fit right in with the Sandler Happy Madison Productions house style? The “Deerfield Wife Carrying Competition,” an obstacle course run through a muddy mid-summer ski resort made even funnier by the presence of Dean Winters (Mr. Mayhem of the car insurance commercials).
That’s kind of a throw-away moment.
“Father of the Year?” A throw-away movie, and an utter waste of time, another make-work project for Sandler’s less and less funny stable of pals.
MPAA Rating: TV-14, profanity, sexual humor
Cast: David Spade, Joey Bragg, Matt Spively, Bill Kottcamp, Bridgit Mendler, Nat Faxon
Running time: 1:34