Mr. Deeds (2002)
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Review Date: June 28, 2002
Director: Steven Brill
Writer: Tim Herlihy
Producers: Jack Giarraputo, Sidney Ganis
Adam Sandler as Longfellow Deeds
Winona Ryder as Pam Dawson
John Turturro as Emilio
A small-town schlep with a kind heart and decent morals falls in love with an uptown girl living in New York, after he's flown to the city to pick up his inheritance of $40 billion dollars. So will this innocent man be corrupted by the big city and his newfound wealth, or will his pure values rub off on everybody else? Adam Sandler...ensues.
I've always liked Adam Sandler. From his days on "Saturday Night Live" and his silly characters, to his hilarious appearances on talk shows, to his films, most of which have made me smile, I generally appreciate the dude and his humor. So even though the trailer to his latest film looked pretty lame, I was hoping that some of that old "Sandler" charm would shine through. Well...what I got was something in the middle, with enough of Sandler's boyish attitude and goofy jokes to compensate for the film's lack of substance or ability to make its sentimentality credible. It's not the "typical" Sandler film, in that he doesn't just shout at people, beat them up and surround himself with over-the-top sidekicks (uuuuhmm, well actually, he does do all that...even Rob Schneider shows up for his habitual cameo), but they did obviously try to make Sandler less annoying here, selling him more as your basic "nice guy", rather than the man-child that he usually plays. I bought him in the role, and his "fish out of water" story was somewhat fun to watch, but there were a lot of elements in the film which just didn't work at all, and basically stopped me from enjoying it any more. There is a "romance" that develops between Sandler and Winona Ryder that is entirely laughable, with Ryder herself proving to the world, that she is definitely not equipped to handle any future comedies anytime soon. Her acting seems forced here, her interactions with Sandler awkward, and pretty much every scene featuring her lovely face, was a bore to me. The same can be said about her entire entourage at the "tabloid" TV program, all of whom seemed "passé" and predictable beyond belief.

The film also overplays the sentimentality card, and even though I did appreciate Sandler's character, his overall goodness, purity and innocence, I think they went overboard and lost all credibility when they made him give this ho-hum speech at a stockbroker's meeting, which barely inspired me to turn my head to my friend and say "that was supposed to be inspiring?" Of course, it's to note that the film is obviously not trying to be THE MAJESTIC either, but that's the problem with a movie like this which tries to balance the drama, romance and goofy comedy at the same time...it doesn't always work. Some scenes did crack me up though, like the one in which Sandler beats a street mugger silly, the scene in which he and John McEnroe go ape-shit on the town and pretty much every single moment which included John Turturro. Wow, what a discovery! Give Emilio his own movie after this one...this dude rocks! I loved Turturro's character through and through in this film, everything from his accent, to his ability to move at lightning speed to his freaky foot fetish...this guy was hilarious! (and yes, it was almost like a re-incarnated brother of his Jesus character from THE BIG LEBOWSKI). Some other characters who were also funny included Peter Gallagher and his sidekick as the big-wig businessmen, but I didn't crack one smile at Steve Buscemi's blatant moronic character or Sandler's phony-belly buddy from his hick town. Basically, I'm pretty split in the middle on this one. The message was nice but not that entirely believable, the film was easy enough to watch, but took itself too seriously sometimes, and the romance didn't work at all, while a good handful of the comedy was entertaining. At the end of the day, I think you'll get enough out of this movie if you're an Adam Sandler fan (or a Turturro fan, for that matter), but everyone else will likely just shrug their shoulders and move on to the next item up for bid.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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