Grandma's Boy (2006) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoop's notes

Something funny happened to Grandma's Boy on the way to obscurity.

At first, things seemed to be progressing in an orderly fashion:

  • The critics reviled it. Among the "cream of the crop" critics at IMDb, it received only 6% positive reviews. The studio, using a tactic which is becoming increasingly more common for certain types of youth-oriented genre films which are almost certain to receive bad reviews, did not pre-screen the film for critics. The studios are starting to do this with nearly every lowbrow comedy, video game adaptation, and splatter film. I have a feeling that such a tack makes the eventual reviews even worse, since it forces the critic to pay to get in and sit with the hoi-polloi in a crowded theater full of people who could be his grandchildren.
  • It bombed at the box office. If hiding it from the critics was designed to help the gross, the tactic seems to have failed. The film took in a tepid three million on its opening weekend, but it dropped 60% in the second weekend, and it had virtually disappeared by the third, having been retained on only 200 screens out of the original 2000. Most theaters offered perfunctory compliance with the obligatory two weeks of screenings, then couldn't nuke it fast enough.

That should be the recipe for an IMDb score in the range of 2.5-3.5, right? Very wrong. It is rated a respectable 6.4 at IMDb by more than a thousand voters, and that score is no fluke. It is also scored B- at Yahoo, and that's an average derived from more than two thousand voters.

What the ... ?

Well, I suppose the explanation is not so complicated. The audience for this lowbrow, R-rated comedy is bakers and gamers aged 12-16. Think about that for a moment. Can any movie so described get good reviews from a bunch of 50ish film critics who would rather be watching a Chaplin retrospective while sipping white wine between screenings? And you can't expect any theatrical box office. The R rating means that the target audience can't even get into the movie. From the very beginning, this film was doomed to fail theatrically, with the producers' only hope being some profit from the video aftermarket. Will it succeed? Well, the kids have already supported it with their votes and comments online, but it remains to be seen whether the target audience will support the DVD with their pocketbooks.

I think that this film probably would have benefited from critical screenings. First of all, the critics would have been in a better mood when they reviewed the film, but more important, their reviews would have offered good marketing coverage to reach those people who know they have to read between the lines of reviews because they don't like the kinds of films that critics like. I'm such a reader myself. If a critic declares a film to be a "tone poem," he means to say "possessing a masterful control of atmosphere," but I read it as "pretentious crapola," and look elsewhere. I'm allergic to tone poetry. Now look at it from the kids' perspective. Let's assume that an important print reviewer says, "It's nothing but a bunch of stoners and slackers ragging on one another while they play video games and get wasted. Topping it all off is a kung-fu monkey."  The critic thinks that is a negative review, but when a family's stern paterfamilias reads that to the kids over breakfast, meaning to offer them edification and guidance toward the path of enlightenment and maturity, the members of the film's potential audience hear that comment and think, "A kung-fu monkey? Cool." This thought is followed by plenty of giggling.

I am not in this film's target audience. I'm nearly 60 and can't remember the last time I got high on any substance, legal or illegal. Yet I got some good laughs out of this film, and found it easy to sit through. Oh sure, some parts of the film made me cringe, especially the irritating "villain," but I enjoyed the interplay between the sympathetic characters, and I liked the fact that the characters were played as real people who have fun and generally respect one another. I think the story works better with an "average Joe" in the lead than it would have worked with another irritatingly mannered performance from Adam Sandler, complete with the dreaded baby voice. In fact, the two worst scenes in the film are the two cameos from established "names" Rob Schneider and David Spade, because those two guys were doing Catskills-style comedy schtick rather than letting the humor flow naturally from having the dialogue delivered by a credible character.

Unfortunately, this guilty pleasure film fails to deliver enough guilty pleasures. The DVD contains the R-rated theatrical version and an unrated version, but the nudity maxes out at one topless woman and a man's bum. How realistic is that in a film that includes a party in which various bikers and bakers are so wasted that they can barely speak? This film could have benefited from an application of the Scoopy Principle, which is that once a film is rated R for other things (foul language, sex jokes, and sympathetic drug use), the tits are free. You can then basically have every woman in the film topless, and the rating will remain "R" unless you add some other nastiness. Not only did the director underutilize the R, but the unrated version of this film has no more female nudity than the R-rated version, and that has kind of a "rip-off" feel to it.

Setting that aside, I found the film to be a watchable lowbrow comedy cut from the Sandler/Spade/Schneider cloth. As the Hollywood Reporter stated, "The film doesn't have much in the way of genuine laughs despite a plethora of attempted gags, but it does have a geniality that makes it hard to entirely dislike."



  • Tuna said, "The DVD has both a theatrical R version and an Unrated version, but I could find no difference."
  • Commentary by actors Allen Covert, Nick Swardson and Peter Dante
  • Commentary by director Nicholaus Goosen
  • "Covert Whacks It" featurette
  • "Monkey" featurette
  • "Casting Session" featurette (originally made for Fox Movie Channel)
  • Deleted scenes, "Scenes That Went Up in Smoke," "Unsmoked Material" and "Smoke This" montages. Tuna notes, "There is scene after scene of deleted scenes and bloopers, but again I could see little difference between those and the unrated version of the film."
  • Music Video


  • Heidi Hawking appears topless.
  • Peter Dante shows his butt.

Tuna's notes

Grandma's Boy is a puerile bong comedy about a group of video game testers.

Allen Covert is a 35 year old video game tester. He is evicted because his roommate was spending the rent money at a Filipino massage parlor, and spends the night with a work buddy who lives at his own parents' house. This does not go well, as the mother catches Allen whacking off to a Laura Croft doll. He is forced to move in with his grandmother and her two roommates. 

Back at the office, we meet the antagonist. The game designer at the company was a child prodigy and is a super nerd, but is stuck on the design of his next game. Coincidentally, Allen has been secretly developing his own video game. The rest of that plot is easily guessed. There is also a half-hearted love interest for Allen. Samantha is hired as a project manager to get the current game tested and released on time. The climax of the film is a pot-fueled party to celebrate the completion of testing. 

The scary thing to me is that many people must have enjoyed this to get it up to 6.4 at IMDb. I will have to assume that I am not the target audience (thank God). Shirley Jones as a horny granny is the closest thing I found to humor in the film.

The Critics Vote ...

  • James Berardinelli awarded 0.5/4, saying, "There are plenty of toxic waste dumps around this country where prints of Grandma's Boy would be at home."

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C- (both reviewers). It won't appeal to many outside of the doper and gamer crowd, but it should amuse the members of that group.

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