Mr. Deeds

Choices Adam Sandler must make before making a film: Which character to play, the smartass or the naïf? Which marketable but affordable actress should co-star? Which old friend will direct, Dennis Dugan or Steven Brill? What classic-rock staple will be featured prominently on the soundtrack, trailers, and television ads? Which fast-food chain will receive absurdly prominent placement? Answers for Mr. Deeds: The naïf, Winona Ryder, Brill, Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open The Door," and the one with Frosties, chili, and Biggie fries. Choices Sandler seldom has to make: Will old college roommate Tim Herlihy pen the screenplay? Will Steve Buscemi and Rob Schneider have cameos? Will the protagonist beat someone up at some point? Factor in a plot borrowed from Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, and anyone who's seen a Sandler film in the past pretty much knows what to expect. Not that that's a terrible thing. Sandler's movies aren't always good, but they're seldom unpleasant. The formula doesn't always triumph, but it rarely fails outright. Mr. Deeds, in which Sandler plays a small-town pizzeria owner and aspiring greeting-card author who unexpectedly inherits a media empire from a distant uncle, falls more to the pleasant side of the equation, coasting on easy laughs and its star's charisma. Though surprisingly faithful to the unsurprisingly superior original, the film owes as much to Caddyshack as to Capra; its snobs-and-slobs divide only needs uniforms and banners to mark them more clearly. As Peter Gallagher (snob) jockeys to swindle control of the company from Sandler (slob), reporter Winona Ryder (snob with swelling slob sympathies) poses as a modest school nurse in order to get the scoop on New York's newest billionaire. A setup well suited to what Sandler does best, Deeds starts off much funnier than it finishes, losing momentum and gaining sentimentality in equal measure. John Turturro's funny turn as a Spanish butler with the preternatural ability to skulk hints at the better film Sandler could have made with a little more effort and a lot fewer old tricks. Deeds is business as usual, a brand-name known quantity that viewers can safely say they like or not without setting foot in the theater.

Filed Under: DVD

More DVD Review