I think Adam Sandler is funny, but I’ve never understood why he insists on using those (supposed) accents that he does. He did it constantly while on “Saturday Night Live”, and has continued with his movies. For the most part, his “voices” are rather stupid and has no origin to speak off (not to mention they’re not all that funny). I believe the biggest problem with Sandler is that he is unable to comprehend his own fame; he doesn’t understand that he’s not famous for doing silly (and oftentimes incomprehensible) voices, but rather because he is playing himself: a regular Joe who gets way over his head and manages to triumph because of who he is. That’s the guy we like, the guy we root for, and the guy we want to see again and again.
“Mr. Deeds,” a remake of a 1937 film, has Sandler not doing those silly voices, and it’s a good thing because I’m not sure if I can sit through another “Little Nicky.” Adam Sandler is Longfellow Deeds, a happy-go-lucky New Hampshire country boy whose life is turned upside down when he inherits $40 billion from an uncle he never knew he had. Flown to New York by the uncle’s second-in-command Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher), Deeds is hounded by the media and being maneuvered by Cedar into giving up his stake in his uncle’s company. Along the way, Deeds crashes the establishment and romances convicted kleptomaniac Winona Ryder, who plays a tabloid journalist after Deeds’ story.
“Mr. Deeds” is as far removed from “The Waterboy” as possible, which is a good thing (at least for me). Sandler has returned to his roots as the Common Guy who, although he’s prone to fits of physical violence (imposed justifiably on those who deserves it), is a good guy who always does the right thing for no other reason except that it’s the right thing to do. Sandler’s Deeds isn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch, but that just makes him all the more “regular.” Of course the film makes Deeds the male version of Mother Teresa (minus the fits of physical violence, natch), but Comedies are known for exaggerations, and “Mr. Deeds” can easily be forgiven for them.
I am surprised by how pleasant much of “Mr. Deeds” was, and how much I enjoyed it. It’s no masterpiece, that’s for sure, but it’s certainly a very good way to past the time. Best of all, it seems Sandler has found his perfect niche as the Common Guy who disrupts the establishment for the good, and maybe that’s because he is that guy. (See, Adam, there’s no need for silly voices.)
There are a number of good supporting characters in “Mr. Deeds,” but Peter Gallagher (“Sex, Lies, and Videotape”) and Jared Harris (as a tabloid reporter) really take the cake, and perhaps the film might have been better if it had toned them down a bit. Gallagher’s Cedar is obviously built up so he can get his comeuppance in the final minutes of the film, but I was a little disappointed that Harris’ reporter got off scot-free.
John Turturro has a funny role as Emilio, Deeds’ butler who seems to have ninja-like abilities (and not to mention a foot fetish). The presence of Steve Buscemi (“Ghost World”) as Crazy Eyes also provides some laughs. I believe Winona Ryder (“Alien: Resurrection”) is making her first comedy here, although I can’t be sure. After some disappointing flops in recent years, it’s good to see Ryder back on the big screen again, her penchant for shoplifting notwithstanding. (What is up with that, Winona?)
“Mr. Deeds” is a pleasantly entertaining film, and I hope Sandler continues on this course. I can always use more of “Mr. Deeds” and “The Wedding Singer”, but I’m not sure if I can survive another “Little Nicky” or “The Waterboy.”
Steven Brill (director) / Tim Herlihy (screenplay)
CAST: Adam Sandler …. Longfellow Deeds
Winona Ryder …. Babe Bennett
John Turturro …. Emilio Lopez
Allen Covert …. Marty
Peter Gallagher …. Chuck Cedar