Running in Movies: The Absurdity of ‘That’s My Boy’

Don’t let its 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes fool you; Adam Sandler’s 2012 ‘That’s My Boy’ is far, far worse than that. Ebert called it mean, Jack Hanlon of Rotten Tomatoes said it was “easily the worst movie of 2012” and now that I think about it, that’s saying quite a bit, given its competitors for that title: Twilight pt 2, Alex Cross, Taken 2, and Savages. And yet, nestled in the closing minutes of this atrocious mess of a movie is a fantastic running scene, the sheer absurdity of which trumps any other movie running scene I can think of off the top of my head.

The background:

A severely obese man by the name of Tubby Tuke (Adam Sandler has never been one to be subtle) has 8000/1 odds against him winning the Boston Marathon. Judging by release date, this would be the 2012 Boston Marathon, which, with starting temps above 70 degrees, had some of the most difficult conditions ever faced by competitors. The heat, hills, and humidity would certainly hurt the big man’s chances, and yet, according to a bookie played by a wooden Rex Ryan –yes, THAT Rex Ryan)–, “[Tubby’s] got wheels!” and that’s enough persuasion for Sandler’s character to throw his last 20 bucks on him.

It’s a short scene, but there’s actually quite a bit to unpack, including some hidden easter eggs that knowledgeable running fans will get a kick out of. Lets take a look, and then afterward we’ll break the scene down.

Click here if you cannot play the clip

So, with just around a half mile to go in the 26.2 mile race, the 400 lb Tubby has somehow managed to reel in the lead pack, which shockingly enough, is still 14 deep at this late stage, and includes two women. The women appear to be fading, but that’s to be expected after their hot early pace- the women started 30 minutes after the men in 2012, and thus likely averaged around 3:28 mile pace as they attempted to close the gap on the male leaders over the previous 90 minutes.

Tubby is still looking good in the closing stages of the race. He proceeds to makes a hard move and swing past third place, but in doing so some inadvertent contact occurs with the Ethiopian, who is interestingly enough rocking a Brooks Hanson jersey. The Ethiopian is quick to voice his displeasure with Tubby’s racing tactics. However, he is clearly struggling with the pace and eventually yields to the wide-eyed, weaving Tubby. As he moves past, the leaders pass 26 miles, and the clock shows 2:01:01, meaning a new world record is virtually guaranteed to whomever prevails.

Tubby makes his move


And then disaster strikes: with the finish line in sight, it appears Tubby feels the warning signs of a cramp in his right hamstring, and stride now broken, he falls heavily to the pavement. At this point the race should be over for Tubby, but he refuses to back down and pops right back up- perhaps it was just a twinge? Tubby desperately scans the crowd for an electrolyte fix and finds it in the form of a gallon of chocolate milk, which he quickly downs. A refreshed Tubby then resumes his sprint for the line, catches the leading Ethiopian, and outleans him for the win in a new world record time of 2:01:37. The next 7 runners also break the old world record, and an American female runs 2:02:49 (or 1:32:49 gun-adjusted) for a massive new women’s world record.

Tubby closes his final quarter-mile in roughly 45 seconds, and that’s including the heavy fall and subsequent chocolate milk chug. Truly an extraordinary performance, and a friendly reminder that a good strategy is always key on the difficult course. Tubby focused on negative splitting, ensuring proper hydration, and this emphasis netted him a new world record and cool 6 figure payout on a difficult Boston course.





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