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The ViewHamilton Review

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Review byMatthew Turner1/11/2002

One star out of Five
Running time: 91 mins

Depending on your view of Adam Sandler’s ‘work’ this is either an underdeveloped, lazy and barely funny abomination of Mr Deeds Goes To Town; or another welcome serving of the pant-wetting genius’ hilarious shtick. You know who you are.

When you’ve already made something as execrable and universally loathed as Little Nicky why stop there? So Adam Sandler and his various cronies must have thought as they set about ‘updating’ Frank Capra’s classic tale about a simple, small-town man thrust into the world of corporate finance and city slickers.

Numerous Lame Gags

And what fun they must have all had - what with Sandler’s former college roomie and screenwriter of choice Tim Herlihy (he of Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy and yes, Little Nicky) penning the script, Steven ‘Big Daddy ’ Brill on megaphone duties and the usual Sandler-ites filling out the cast (Steve Buscemi, Peter Dante, Allen Covert et al). Must have been hilarious.

Shame then that none of the mirth translated onto screen. Herlihy’s script takes the bare bones of Capra’s original and fleshes it out with numerous lame gags, supposedly whimsical touches and inexplicable celebrity cameos.

Mr Deeds himself is the same kind of droney, wholesome guy Sandler played in The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy, only this time he’s a parochial pizzeria owner who dreams of writing greeting card verses for a living (awww) and is prone to bouts of violence for comedic effect (example: he beats the bejaysus out of a group of snotty diners in a restaurant for being condescending – funny, right?).

He’s such a darn tootin’ nice guy he hugs everybody he meets, delivers pizza to the local crim in jail (Steve Buscemi) and carries old people bodily across the road (crazy!).

Idiot Abroad

Naturally when he goes to New York to claim the money left to him by his rich uncle, he encounters nasty city people such as the aforementioned diners and a duplicitous TV reporter (Winona Ryder) who cons him into dating her so that she can sell him down the river with tales of his misbehaviour.

There’s also a slithery Spanish butler Emilio (Turturro) who revels in his ability to sneak up on people, a slimy corporate exec keen to keep Deeds’ inheritance (Peter Gallagher) and John McEnroe. Why any of these people are in this film is a mystery although, to their credit, they all struggle bravely along.

Criminal Behaviour From Winona

Turturro raises brief laughs through the sheer verve of his performance and Ryder elicits something approaching audience compassion, not least because her character is called, rather unfortunately, ‘Babe’ but also because this was the girl who was once so good in Edward Scissorhands. Bless her, Winona’s got to pay those legal bills somehow, hasn’t she?

Meanwhile, Sandler cruises through the picture in a somnambulistic state, mumbling through tearjerker scenes criticising corporate greed (natch) and showing off his ‘comedy’ black foot (the result of childhood frostbite) with a tangible lack of enthusiasm. If he can’t be bothered, it begs the question – why should an audience? Though Sandler fans will no doubt find something to enjoy here, Mr Deeds shows so little range, development and sincerity that it short-changes even the most loyal of devotees.

They say you shouldn’t judge a man by his words but by his deeds - and looking at this, Adam Sandler must be in a sorry old state.

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Content updated: 16/12/2019 23:19

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